You love the company but why does it even exist?
Learn even more about why we are who we are and how we came to be in this new feature article by Lacy Cooke, originally published July 20, 2015.
Virginia Hankins’ Sheroes Entertainment Inspires Imagination
Warrior. Mermaid. Actress. Archer. Stuntwoman. Knight. Few people can claim all those roles, but Virginia Hankins blends them beautifully in her latest enterprise as founder of Sheroes Entertainment. Her unique career was inspired by Tamora Pierce’s The Song of the Lioness Quartet, a series that tells the adventures of Alanna, a lady knight.
“I’d always loved the Middle Ages and got the idea in my head that I wanted to be a knight, too. I emailed jousting groups and asked to train with them, but they said no, that I wouldn’t be any use to them because I was a woman,” says Virginia.
Although she wasn’t using her double major from USC in biomedical and mechanical engineering, what she learned in college taught her to persist.
“Engineering taught me to problem solve. It taught me to be practical, and to not look at something as impossible, but as a challenge. No matter what your dream is, you can break down the steps to accomplish it,” she says.
She found a jousting group that accepted women, and gained notice for her work at renaissance fairs. “In Los Angeles, a redheaded petite female knight on a warhorse is rare. I became a person to call in town, and got into stunts and then acting,” she says.
Virginia acted as the first female knight for the Southern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire, and landed roles such as Joan of Arc on Spike TV’s Deadliest Warrior. As she worked more in the industry, however, Virginia noticed that too often, performers and the animals they worked with were not treated well.
“I was a professional knight working on the circuit, for a director extremely abusive to the crew. I was also working for a director in Hollywood, and despite him being internationally famous, he was kind to the crew and said ‘thank you’ no matter what they did,” says Virginia. “I thought it was a dream come true to be working as a knight only to be screamed at behind the scenes. I loved working with children; they would call me ‘princess knight’ or ‘kind knight’ but I was pushed by random directors into roles of barbarians or bullies. Meanwhile I was also looking at someone who made so much money and was still nice. That resonated with me. I did my last show and began looking for something where I could be an inspiration to kids.”
Virginia began Sheroes Entertainment, a company devoted to inspiring imagination in children through performances by actors and actresses who are treated with respect. Sheroes puts on themed parties for children and adults and recently created the L.A. Mermaid School.
“When we’re talking to kids, they often say, ‘How do I know you’re real?’ We say, ‘How do you know that I’m not?’ Just the fact that you haven’t seen something doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I want to leave them with the feeling that anything is possible,” Virginia says.
Today, Sheroes Entertainment gets calls from around the world and has been covered by major media outlets.
“For a number of years, I thought I was doing a good job if I did what other people told me to do, but I realized that the only person who knows who I am and what I’m capable of is me,” says Virginia.
She has excelled in many different career paths, and hopes to pass on the same tenacity and drive to others who want to achieve their dreams.
“The more you try to go against what you are, the harder it is to get anything done. If you can’t change it, show it off, because maybe that’s exactly who you are supposed to be. I
have flaming red hair, but that makes me a great mermaid,” says Virginia. “Don’t wait for someone to commend you in order to feel good about yourself. If no one’s saying ‘good job,’ keep going after your dream. You might not be doing a good job, but if you keep working, you’ll get better and get noticed. Dreams happen not by existing but by getting to work and believing in what you have to offer. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to get to work.”