Walker Stalker Con: Meet interpreters Jennifer and Leyel

Leyel Hudson interpreting a the Group Therapy panel at Walker Stalker Con Atlanta.Photo credit: Tracey Phillipps
Leyel Hudson interpreting a the Group Therapy panel at Walker Stalker Con Atlanta.Photo credit: Tracey Phillipps /

Jennifer Husband and Leyel Hudson bring Walker Stalker Con panels to life for those with hearing impairments.

Panels are definitely popular at Walker Stalker Con.  Your favorite characters from The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and more answer questions from the audience and the panel moderators.

There are usually plenty of laughs as well as interesting behind the scenes scoop shared.  It’s just one more way for fans to get up close and personal with celebrity guests.

Walker Stalker Con does a fabulous job of accommodating the needs of all fans attending panels. Disability Services coordinates end of row seating for wheelchairs, interpretation for those who are hearing impaired, and much more.

That’s where Jennifer and Leyel make the magic happen.  Jennifer Husband and Leyel Hudson co-own BlueSun Interpreting, a service used by Walker Stalker Con and other conventions to accommodate their guests with hearing impairments.

These ladies are fabulous.  They do not merely sign the words spoken by the panelists, but they do it with great energy and enthusiasm. As you can imagine, it can get tiring keeping up with so much discussion on stage, but they make it look easy.  With that said, they do take turns to give one another a break.

I have some personal experience with sign language in my own family so I was anxious to ask them a few questions and thank them for contributing to Walker Stalker Con in such an important way. Here is what I learned.

Are Jennifer and Leyel fans of The Walking Dead?

"Yes! I had to ask because I could not imagine signing panelists’ responses with such ease if you were not familiar with the content being discussed.  That also explains how Jennifer and Leyel also have the perfect facial expressions while signing the panels."

Do they tailor their signing to the guests using their services?

"Yes!  I know that in sign language you can adapt a single sign for someone’s name rather than spelling each letter of the person’s name every time you refer to them. (My daughter signs her brother’s name by simply pointing to her nose — maybe because he’s such a clown and its like she’s honking a clown’s nose!)So I had to ask if they finger-spelled each letter of a character’s name, such as D-A-R-Y-L, or is there a commonly used sign for these popular characters. Jennifer and Leyel explained how they meet with each guest they are helping before the panel to understand their specific needs, find out if they have signs for the characters, and other helpful information. The ladies tailor their interpretation services to the guest’s individually."

Do celebrity panelists ever try to say silly things on purpose?

"Yes! But all in good fun. Jennifer and Leyel are there to translate word for word what the panelists say.So, as you can imagine, it is tempting for someone like Michael Cudlitz and Josh McDermitt to have a little fun with the interpreters.In one panel, Michael Cudlitz improvised telling a dramatic tale about a storm making Leyel sign an equally dramatic translation.Then Josh had to join in by posing as Cudlitz gushing over Josh.  And so our fearless translator signed that silliness as well.And then you have professional impressionist and Aaron actor Ross Marquand speaking in different voices.  The ladies have to convey that information as well!But no one goes too far with it, because they are there to perform a service after all. I wonder if it feels akin to performing improv when the actors throw random content at them.  I will have to ask them that next time!Leyel Hudson interpreting the Group Therapy panel at Walker Stalker Con Atlanta 2016Photo Credit: Tracey Phillipps"

Can we learn more about BlueSun Interpreting and tell them how awesome they are?

"Yes! They are on Twitter @comicconterp and Instagram as @comiccon.terp. You can find them on Facebook as well.  And, hopefully, you can meet them in person at a Walker Stalker Con near you!"

Next: Walker Stalker Con: Exclusive interview with Greg Nicotero

Thank you Jennifer and Leyel for helping to include everyone in all the fun at Walker Stalker Con!

Walker Stalker Con arrives in Charlotte, NC on December 17th and 18th.