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Employee Spotlight: Alex Vargas

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Lucasfilm’s head of fan relations coordinates all fan content at Star Wars Celebration.

On a clear, brisk Saturday morning at the top of the stairs in front of the London ExCel Center’s Star Wars Celebration 2023 main entrance, Lucasfilm’s head of fan relations Alex Vargas prepared to escort 25 members of the Rebel Legion costuming club to a changing room inside the venue. His task that morning was to have the Rebel Legion safely escort the queues of guests waiting outside into the ExCel building where the various stages would open at 10:00 a.m.

“The most important thing is that nobody runs,” said Vargas, who had been waiting outside since 7:00 a.m. to receive the Rebel Legion volunteers as they arrived one at a time. This was his morning procedure  each of the four days of the event, with the 501st Legion having played escorts the day before on Friday, and the Mandalorian Mercs, Saber Guild, and Dark Empire clubs filling the roles on Sunday and Monday.

This fan-escorting procedure – a first for Star Wars Celebration – was just one of dozens of fan-related projects that Vargas was tasked with handling over the course of the event, many of which were thoroughly planned in advance of the show. Fan panels, props and tables, and even the occasional fan parade or large group photo-op fell under his purview, whose calm and friendly demeanor made it look all too easy.

Vargas’ journey to landing a role at Lucasfilm — first as a fan relations specialist and now as head of fan relations — began, as with many fans, with home viewings of the original trilogy. “I think I was about five when I got the original trilogy films on VHS for Christmas,” he now tells “And that same year I got the documentary, From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga on tape, too. So I watched that just as often as the movies, which I watched like crazy.”

Vargas also remembers that Star Wars toys were a major part of his childhood experience. Being a kid in the early ‘90s when there were not a lot of Star Wars toys available on store shelves, Vargas would go to swap meets with his dad to find the vintage figures and playsets. And if playsets weren’t available, he’d improvise. “We got one of those old Macintosh computers that came with these really cool pieces of foam,” he remembers. “There were domes that we would use to create this giant Tatooine diorama.”

Making stories with toys captured Vargas’ imagination early on, and eventually evolved into a love of Star Wars cosplay. “The first costume that I did was a steampunk Boba Fett,” he says. “My wife and I dressed as steampunk Mandalorians at conventions, and we met people there who were members of the 501st Legion. Talking with them and seeing their costumes made me want to do something a little more accurate. I had a friend who had built a TIE fighter pilot costume and he helped me source all the parts for mine. We built it and the 501st approved it. I became a member in 2016.”

While fandom has played an essential part in Vargas’ role on the Lucasfilm events team, it was his prior experience in the field that prepared him for taking on the many challenges and opportunities of a massive convention like Star Wars Celebration. Vargas began his events career as a show crew member on the special effects stage at Universal Studios in Southern California, where he eventually moved into production work for special events.

Grinchmas, Halloween Horror Nights, New Year’s and other events at Universal gave me the experience of how to actually build an event and get all the pieces ready,” he recalls. “I then moved into a specialist role where I took care of the sets and the props and the vehicles for the backlot tour. There I learned how certain things are sourced, how to find vendors, how to create install schedules, and how to work as a team. You have to have good planning. I always plan for the best and plan for the worst, just to be safe.”

After Universal, Vargas moved into a role at a private events company in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he helped plan parties for large tech companies and the like. There he learned to work with the many stakeholders that are typically involved in planning such events. “You need to make sure that everybody knows what’s going on, what the schedule is and that you have everything done at the right time,” he says. “Because everything that we’re doing is for the guest experience. It’s the same with Star Wars Celebration. I went to two Celebrations before working at Lucasfilm and loved them, so I want to make sure that anybody who comes to Celebration is enjoying it as much as I did.”

Since joining Lucasfilm in 2019, Vargas has been part of the Star Wars Celebration production team in Anaheim in 2020, Europe in 2023, and the upcoming Celebration Japan in 2025 – planning for which is already underway. As head of fan relations, his main focus is fan content. “That’s anything on the show floor that’s presented by fans,” he explains. “So all the fan groups, all the fan panels, fan props, fan tables, the one-off events that are hosted by fans, all those kinds of things – that’s my main focus for the shows.

Star Wars Celebration allows us to highlight fan creativity by giving them a chance to provide content for the show,” he continues. “Having worked with the fan groups, I know what kind of content they want to provide. And having a good relationship with the groups is important to maintain a trust between us and them. They invest a lot of time and money into these fan props and other content for the show, so having a relationship with them, knowing that we trust them with their content and that they can count on us to give them the support they need is very important. It’s a big deal that we get that right.”

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