THE QUEEN OF MERCHANDISE ROCK

An Interview with Amy Guranovich
by David Cleary


DAVE CLEARY: Welcome, Amy! Tell us a little bit about yourself--where you are from, where you work or go to school, the basic platform stuff.

AMY GURANOVICH: Well, I am from Barrington, Illinois, but right now I am up in Lake Forest, Illinois going to college. I am currently a freshman at Barat College and I am majoring in theatre--acting/directing. I used to work at a Disney Store, but had to quit once school started.

DC: I know Lake Forest well; it's a suburb north of Chicago. I went to an arts colony there called Ragdale. I remember Lake Forest as being a very ritzy suburb (had a Ferrari dealership downtown) with some huge and beautiful houses. It's also where Mr. T lives. How do you like the school and the town? And is Barrington also near Chicago?

AG: I am enjoying college a lot....I love the freedom of being away from my parents. Barrington is forty-five minutes away from Lake Forest, so I still am close to home--and yes, Barrington is also near Chicago. Funny you should mention Mr. T and the Ferrari dealership. Mr. T's brother is a security guard here at my college and the Ferrari place is within walking distance....not like any of us poor college students could afford one.

DC: Is Mr. T's brother anything like his more famous sibling? Does he walk around campus with a lot of jewelry saying, "I pity da fool!" and stuff like that? :) I understand you guys figured out which house in town is Mr. T's as well.

AG: LOL!....No, he is nothing like his brother. I didn't even know they were related until someone told me. Yes, we found Mr. T's house from the directions you gave me. Thanks!

DC: When did you first see The Lion King?

AG: I first saw TLK on opening day, June 15, 1994.

DC: Was TLK a one-time thing for you, or are you generally a fan of Disney's animated films? If the latter, which other films are favorites of yours?

AG: I wouldn't call myself a huge Disney fan, but I do enjoy their other animated features. I have never fallen in love with any movie, let alone a Disney movie, like I did with TLK. Other Disney films I did enjoy are Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.

DC: In an earlier statement, you suggested that you're not necessarily a die-hard Disney fan--yet you were "first in line" :) to see the movie on opening day. Was there something unusual about this particular Disney movie that got you to see it so soon?

AG: Well, I have grown up with Disney all my life because my mom is a die-hard Disney fan. It is just a family thing that we see Disney's newest animated feature on opening day.

DC: Do you like non-Disney animated films or cartoons? Which ones, if so?

AG: I am a big animation fan, so the answer is yes. Two that come to mind right away are Balto and The Secret of NIMH.

DC: What do you enjoy most about these films?

AG: Well, the main thing I like about them is that they're not musicals. I don't mind musicals, but it is refreshing to see the characters not break into song every twenty minutes. I grew up with The Secret of NIMH, so I have liked it since I was young. Balto, on the other hand, is a story about discovering who you are--just like TLK--so of course I liked it.

DC: How many times have you seen the movie in the theater and how many times on video? Did you like the movie right away, or did you have to warm up to it?

AG: I saw TLK only once in the theater. It really didn't make an impact on me the first time I saw it. I was in a packed theater filled with kids, so it was difficult to enjoy the movie. I didn't see the film again until it came out on video on March 3, 1995. My dad had bought it for our family to add to our Disney movie collection. So, I took it up to my room and really watched it for the first time, taking the film in the way I believe it was meant to be taken in. I loved it! I saw the film for what it was that night and fell in love with it. I couldn't believe what I had missed so many months ago.

DC: Any idea how many times you've seen the film since that pivotal March viewing?

AG: I probably have seen the film over 400 times....I used to watch it every day, but as I lost time, I had to cut down to once a week. I have seen it enough though that the tape wore out and I had to replace it....no lie!

DC: Do you have a favorite or least favorite scene? If so, which ones?

AG: My favorite scene in TLK has to be the entire "Be Prepared" sequence. It is a very powerful scene with excellent symbolism, in addition to being my favorite song. My least favorite scene is when the hyenas turn on Scar and kill him....no matter how many times I see the movie, I always cry at that part.

DC: Tell me more about the symbolism that you noticed in "Be Prepared."

AG: Well, the Nazi symbolism is very clear in it. The light spears, the hyenas goose-stepping....very powerful. The whole song shows Scar with a Hitler-like parallel. Very risky for a Disney film, but I like the adult references throughout.

DC: Tell me what makes TLK such a special film for you.

AG: TLK is special to me because I see a lot of myself in the movie. I especially relate to Scar....I have never killed anyone, but I do know what it is like to be different and to be rejected. Sometimes it is hard to cope with such rejection and Scar wasn't able to handle it....I on the other hand did. My heart really went out to him. He never found his place in "The Circle of Life." I likewise haven't, but I am on the right track to getting there and TLK is a big reason for it.

DC: In the correspondence we've exchanged, you've always struck me as being very level-headed. How did TLK get you on the "right track?"

AG: Well, this is kind of difficult to explain; I myself don't know. It may be a coincidence, but my attitude changed once I really found that connection inside me to the movie. I used to care if people teased me and I would get upset, but after TLK I used the "Hakuna Matata" approach toward those types of people.

DC: Might one say that you took Scar's situation, learned from his mistakes, and made your life more positive as a result? Or, as the old cliche goes, when life gave you lemons, you made lemonade?

AG: Actually, that is a pretty good way to say it. Yeah, that is on the right track. You know me even better that I know me. :)

DC: You're of course a big fan of Scar, as you've mentioned before. It's actually a bit unusual, I think, to have one's favorite character in the movie be the villain.

AG: Yes, liking the villain is quite odd for me--normally, I never side with the villain. Scar is different, though.

DC: Nalaholics like myself often find their favorite character to be, well, very fetching. Do you find Scar to be handsome or attractive in the same way? How so, if indeed that's the case? Nala fans usually mention her eyes and her personality, for example.

AG: Yes, I find Scar very attractive. I especially like his voice and his looks; Scar has a very dark, handsome look to him. He has well-chiseled facial features and his green eyes are gorgeous. There is something about him that just makes me wish I were a lioness.

DC: Did you enjoy working at the Disney Store? What kind of job did you have there?

AG: Yes, I loved working at the Disney Store; I plan to work there again this summer. I was based in the collectibles section of the store where the animation cells and similar things are sold....when the store managers heard about my TLK collection, they thought that would be the perfect area of the shop for me to work in.

DC: I'm dying to hear about your TLK merchandise collection. I understand it's stun-level huge--in fact, from what I hear, you've been almost single-handedly keeping Disney's merchandise division in the black over the last few years or so. :) Give us a list of what you have.

AG: Well, I don't know if I would go so far as to saying that I kept Disney merchandising in the black--but yes, my collection is quite large. Well...you asked for it, you've got it--here's a list of merchandise I have collected for nearly the past two years:

The Contents of my Lion King Collection

Sericels
Scheming Scar
Childhood Playmates
Rafiki and Simba
Mane Event
Cast of Characters
Etchings
Simba and Scar
Simba and Nala
Rafiki and Simba
Nala and Simba riding on ostriches
Statues
Scar Maquette
Simba and Mufasa WDCC Tribute Piece
Scar Wooden Sculpture
Sandra Brue Sculptures
Simba and Nala
Mufasa and Simba
Young Simba
Young Nala
Adult Simba
Display base for the set of sculptures
Original Drawings for TLK Merchandise
Original drawing of Scar for a tie
Original drawing of Young Simba and Adult Simba for a t-shirt
Original Production Cel from the Timon and Pumbaa Show
Cel is of Scar, Timon, and Pumbaa
Miscellaneous Framed Items
Picture of Scar autographed by Jeremy Irons
Painting of Scar by Eric Robison--autographed
Simba and Scar promotional still
Lithographs
Pre-order litho from the Disney Store of Rafiki and Simba
Kodak litho of Scar and Simba
Pre-order litho from Suncoast Video of Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa
Collector's Plates
The complete set of twelve plates from the Bradford Exchange
Relief plate #3 from the Disney Store of Scar and Simba fighting
Disney Store plate with Baby Simba, Mufasa, Sarabi, and Zazu
16" diameter Scar Mosaic plate
Music Boxes
Simba and Mufasa (two different versions)
Simba and Nala (adult)
Mufasa, Sarabi, and Baby Simba
"Hakuna Matata" snowglobe
Miscellaneous Collectibles
Program from the premiere of TLK
Two movie displays from when the movie was released on video
Press kit from the movie's release
Clothes
T-shirts
Scar pocket tee
Hyena pocket longsleeve tee
Two airbrushed Scar shirts
Mufasa and Rafiki, Henley
Simba, Mufasa, and the Hyenas, Henley
Timon and Pumbaa, Henley
Simba, Zazu, Timon, and Pumbaa, Henley
Circle of Life tee
"I'm Surrounded by Idiots" shirt
Miscellaneous Clothes
Varsity jacket with Simba and Scar fighting on the back and Rafiki on the front
Boxer shorts with Scar, Simba, Zazu, and Banzai
Two Scar and the Hyenas hats
Watches
Two Timon and Pumbaa (different)
Disappearing/reappearing Mufasa Cast Member watch
Simba silhouette
Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa
Two Mufasa and Simba Kodak watches (same)
Pre-order watch from the Disney Store
Limited edition watch released when the movie came out
Simba laying on his paws
Simba face Timex that you lift the cover of to reveal the time
Adult Simba on Pride Rock, animals rotate around
Young Simba Timex--he is standing
"Circle of Life" watch
Jewelry
Have over twenty-five different pairs of TLK earrings ranging from kiddy to adult
Simba charm
Nala charm
Simba and Nala necklace
Cave painting of Simba necklace
Simba bracelet
Mugs and drinking glasses
Set of four "Circle of Life" mugs
Seven Scar Applause mugs
Plastic Simba and Nala figural mugs
Timon and Pumbaa coffee mug
Simba and Nala coffee mug
Toys
Plush (all are different except the Scar's are four of the same)
Three Young Nala
Sarabi and Baby Simba
Mufasa and squeaking Simba
Three Adult Simba
Baby Simba
Six Young Simba
Four Scar
Shenzi
Zazu
Two Pumbaa
Two Timon
Rafiki
Talking Simba
Roaring Simba
Kissing Simba and Nala
Purring Nala and Simba
Two Simba plush backpacks
Action figures
Two complete sets of the Mattel action figures
Two sets of the Roaring Knights "Battle for the Kingdom" playset
Four mini-Pride Rock playsets
Disney PVC's
Six Scar and Banzai
Rafiki
Nala and Simba
Mufasa and Simba
General PVC's
Mufasa, Baby Simba, and Sarabi
Four Scar
Rafiki and Simba
Adult Simba
Simba and Mufasa
Burger King Toys
Finger Puppets
Three Mufasa
Two Ed
Three Simba
Three Pumbaa
Three Rafiki
Five Scar
Movable Toys
Two Nala
Rafiki
Two Simba
Nine Scar
Two Mufasa
Timon and Pumbaa
Two Ed
Set of four Timon and Pumbaa Show toys
Burger King Cups
Two acrylic video release cups
Scar and the Hyenas plastic cup
Posters
Two cast of characters
Hakuna Matata
Movie Poster
Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa
Two Simba and Nala (waterfall)
"I Just Can't Wait to Be King"
Simba and Nala (cubs)
Mufasa and Simba (stars)
Collector's Cards
Two collector's card tins (limited edition of 10,000)
Three sets of the Series One trading cards
Two sets of Series Two trading cards
AMC Theater trading cards
Simba collector binder to keep the cards in
Keychains
Simba
Nala
Title logo
Simba and Mufasa
Scar
Pins and Buttons
Two sets of fourteen pins from Europe
Disney Store collector set of six pins
"The King Has Returned" premiere button
Simba and Nala (cubs)
Hyenas button
Adult Simba
Presentation on Pride Rock w/Scar and the Hyenas
Set of six Happy Birthday buttons
Six party favor buttons (various characters)
Simba and Nala (adult) pin
School Supplies
Simba and Nala binder
Simba and Nala folder and notebook
Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba folder and notebook
Rafiki and Baby Simba pencil topper
Simba and Nala (adult) pencil topper
Scar and Simba fight scene pen
Set of six markers from the Disney Store
Over a dozen various other pencils and pens
Books
The Art of the Lion King--standard and limited editions
Mufasa's Quote of the Day
Postcard book
The Brightest Star
The Big Bad Book of Puzzlers (Scar is in it)
Several other children's books that I cannot recall the names to
Electronic games
Tiger hand-held game
SNES game
Print Studio for the PC
CD-ROM Activity Center
CD-ROM Animated Storybook
Screen Scenes for Windows
Soundtracks
OMPS on tape and CD
Collector Picture Disc
"Can You Feel the Love Tonight" picture disc single (promo)
"Circle of Life" picture disc single (promo)
In Spanish on tape and CD
In Swedish on CD
Rhythm of the Pride Lands
Movie
Video
Two VHS copies, one open, one sealed
In Spanish
In French
Laserdisc
Standard version
Deluxe CAV version with supplementary material
Miscellaneous Things
Four different bed sheet sets
Blanket
Roaring Mufasa Slippers
Two sets of twelve pogs from Chex Mix
Set of forty-eight stampers (plus two extra of Scar)
Simba throw rug
Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa door mat
Simba beach towel
Sarabi, Mufasa, and Simba beach towel
Scar window cling
Disney Channel wall clock
Over a dozen sticker sets
Simba and Mufasa mouse pad
Weird Items
Perfume
Simba and Nala popcorn tin
Simba koosh ball
Nala and Simba compact mirror
Simba hairbrush
Nala comb
Shampoo
Bath Foam
Several bubble baths with various characters on the lids and last but not least
The infamous shaving kit

This is what I can think of off the top of my head. I am sure I'm missing stuff....but this gives you a pretty good idea of what I have. :)

DC: Wow! I've got to catch my breath! :) Your room must look like the Disney Store ca. 1994. How long have you been buying TLK merchandise?

AG: Thanks....yes, it does. I have been collecting merchandise since right after the movie came out on video. The first thing I actually bought was my Scar plush on March 26, 1995 on my family vacation to Disney World.

DC: Which TLK merchandise items are your favorites? Which are the most unusual? Which do you find to be the most humorous? Tell me a little about these items.

AG: Well, my favorite thing is my Scar plush. The most unusual and unique item would have to be my Scar tie merchandise drawing....it is the actual drawing for a tie that was sold exclusively at Disney theme parks. The most humorous items would have to be the TLK perfume and the hairbrush....and who could forget the shaving kit?

DC: Ah, the infamous shaving kit! That seems to be a popular item among TLK collectors. I've never seen the perfume--is it a wearable fragrance? What does the bottle look like?

AG: Yes, the shaving kit seems to be popular with the fan-fic crowd. Actually, that was a Christmas gift from someone at my college....we laughed about it for days. The perfume, on the other hand, is aimed towards adults. It has an awful smell, but the bottle is quite pretty. The bottle is green with Mufasa and Sarabi and some animals silhouetted around the bottle in gold. The cap is the red rising sun....really nice....until you smell it.

DC: I own a small portable kid-sized TLK overnight package with toothbrush, small comb, cup, soap, and the like. I'd assume the hairbrush and combs you own are different. What do they look like?

AG: Well, the set they came from was called the "Tame Your Mane" grooming kit. The comb has Young Nala on the handle and she is chasing a bug. The brush has Simba on the back of the entire brush, playing with the sun in the background. The mirror is of Simba and Nala playing and the mirror part is between where their tails meet. Really childish, but my brother got it for me for Christmas two years ago....what could I do? :)

DC: That tie design drawing sounds really intriguing. Did you manage to get one of the actual ties?

AG: No, I was never able to get the tie....but it did exist for a short time when the movie was released in theaters. I am looking for it....it is probably one of the few Scar things I don't have. :)

DC: What does the design look like? I can't say I've ever seen this particular tie.

AG: It is a front view of Scar walking forward surrounded by flames....his whole body takes up the tie. It is a really cool design.

DC: Being such a visible TLK fanatic in high school must not have been easy. How accepting were your fellow students of your love for this movie?

AG: No, it wasn't easy--this was one of the reasons I was an outcast. No one could undertand how I could like a "stupid kid's cartoon" (their words, not mine--that is the last thing I would classify the movie as). I was teased a lot, but I didn't care because the movie was so important to me. The thing that bothered me was that everyone was so quick to make fun of me, but no one took the time to find out why I liked the movie. Now that I am in college, people seem to think it is cool. I have people who stop by my dorm room just to see my TLK goodies. I am glad things changed, but even if they hadn't, I would never lose my love for TLK just because people didn't understand my obsession.

DC: So your college friends are understanding of your love for TLK?

AG: Yes, they are. College is very different from high school. You are actually allowed to be an individual, and you don't have to be a follower like in high school. I have a lot of fun up here with TLK....it's great.

DC: You once posted something to the mailing list about driving around in your "Scar-mobile." Tell me about that.

AG: Oh yeah....my friends up here at college call it the "Scar car." The reason it got that nickname is because I have a personalized vanity plate which reads "B PRPARD." I also have a Scar window cling on the driver's-side window and Scar action figures on the dashboard and rearview mirror. I have about six different toys of Scar velcroed to my car.

DC: I don't recall seeing any LK fan fiction, poetry, or art of yours on web pages, the mailing list, or the newsgroup. Have you ever produced any such work for your own private enjoyment?

AG: I draw the characters quite frequently but I don't have a scanner, so I never get to share my work. Right now, I am working on a fan-fic, but with school and all I don't know when I will finish it.

DC: What is your fanfic about?

AG: My fanfic is a prequel to TLK that gives a lot of info about Scar and Mufasa when they were cubs and the relationship they had then....it has so much work to go that I don't see a release date in the near future.

DC: Are you involved with the TLK MUCK, #IRC, or similar things?

AG: I am not on the MUCK, but over Christmas break I did get involved on the Undernet IRC. I frequent the channels #Scar, #LionKing, and #Disney as Seliena. In fact, it was on the IRC that I met my boyfriend.

DC: I understand your boyfriend is also a big TLK fan. Did you in fact first meet on the #IRC? And is he a big Scar fan?

AG: The first place I met him was on the newsgroup. He posted something about looking for fellow Scar fans, so naturally I responded. We became good friends and we emailed each other, talking about Scar, TLK, etc. We really didn't become serious until I started using Undernet IRC. Let's just say that talking to someone in real time is a big change from email tag. Well, the rest is history; we hit it off right away and I love him with all my heart....but he knows that. He's a huge Scar fan--as big a fan as I am--and he wrote a huge fanfic about Scar that he just released.

DC: I have to ask--does he remind you of Scar at all? If so, in what way?

AG: No, from what I know of him, he doesn't. The only similarities that I see are that he and Scar are both handsome.

DC: I think it's great that you are majoring in theatre. Did you do some acting in amateur or school groups? If so, which roles did you take? And what do you like about the theatre?

AG: I did theatre all through high school, and one summer I went to Steppenwolf for their theatre workshop. I have played several different roles through my high school career. I was a hypochondriac in E/R. I was Katie the Cook in "Meet Me in St. Louis" and a policewomen in "Rebel Without a Cause." I have also played smaller roles in various talent shows. I think what I like most about the theatre is that everyone in the cast becomes like a big family and they look out for each other. I also like the fact that acting is a lot more challenging than it appears to be.

DC: You must have seen the James Dean movie. Did you enjoy it?

AG: Yes, I saw it to prepare for the tryouts....I enjoyed it a lot, and now whenever it shows on cable I make sure to watch it.

DC: "Meet Me in St. Louis" is a musical. Did you do any singing in that role?

AG: Yes I did. I had to sing in the chorus, and in addition my character had her own song. I like to sing, but I was self-conscious because I don't like to sing in front of others. That was the most difficult role I ever had to do.

DC: Describe the specific challenges that acting presents to and why you find this discipline so rewarding. For example, is it fun to step outside of yourself and become someone different? Most actors seem to enjoy that aspect in particular.

AG: Actually, the most challenging part is that we aren't supposed to become a character....as an actor, you have to bring yourself to a role, not become a role. That is why it is so difficult because I was always taught to transform into a character, so now I have to relearn the whole acting process. The most rewarding part of acting for me is being able to entertain people and to receive the applause when you are successful.

DC: Working on the stage is not really a secure money-making career (unless you become one of the fortunate and famous few), and as a consequence most parents don't encourage their children to study the discipline. Do your folks have any sort of background in the arts or the stage?

AG: No, my parents have no theater background at all. I realize as well as they do that this isn't a secure job choice, but they support me in what I do and help me out with encouragement--as well as send me to school to at least help my chances of becoming successful.

DC: Okay, it's wish-list time. You can

1. have your dream role as an actress.

2. direct the play or movie plot of your choice.

Which would you select?

AG: I would have to take choice number one. I love acting and my dream role would be for me to play in a film with Jeremy Irons.

DC: Being such a big Jeremy Irons fan, I know why you like Reversal of Fortune so much--and it's indeed a great movie with what is perhaps Irons's best, most characteristic role. What did you like about The Shawshank Redemption? And tell me what makes "NYPD Blue" your favorite TV show.

AG: I like Shawshank Redemption for the plot and acting. I think that the film is very well done in terms of character development. I also was quite surprised by the ending....not what I was expecting. I enjoy movies that aren't predictable. "NYPD Blue" is my favorite television program because it is one of the more realistic cop shows. It is down-to-earth and isn't made soft for TV; it is very gritty, and I like that.

DC: Besides the other things you've mentioned, what other interests and hobbies do you have?

AG: TLK is pretty much my main hobby, but I am also into computers and animation. In fact, as much as I like theatre, my dream is to be an animator for Disney.

DC: I'd like to close this interview by wishing you the best with everything TLK-oriented, as well as with non-TLK stuff like your acting studies. Thank you so much for allowing me the chance to interview you; it's been a lot of fun getting to know you better. I've enjoyed out little chat. :)

AG: Thank you, too. I enjoyed this interview, and it was an honor and a pleasure. Thank you for allowing me the chance. I hope all goes well for you too, Dave. Have a good evening.

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