|Arietta the Wild from Tales of the Abyss - Dark Alchemy Photography|
Nationality: African and Native American
Top 3 Favorite Series: Shin Megami Tensei Persona series, Tales of series, Uta no Prince-sama
Special Talent: Voice acting... at least I would like to think I'm good at it.
When and how did you get into cosplay?
I remember watching Sailor Moon at 6AM am during my grammar school days and always wanted to be a senshi (because who doesn't want to be a kickass female who is a defender of love and justice at age six?). As I grew up with anime, I discovered more and more characters I resonated with. And even when I did my first cosplay (Rinoa from FFVIII) at seventeen I didn't realize that cosplay was a thing in line of “dressing up as a character”; I just wanted to be the character. I may have started cosplaying in 2003, but I didn't really consider myself a cosplayer until 2006.
What’s the biggest distinction between yourself in costume and yourself out of costume?
Pulling the Persona card here, but I'm a huge hermit. I social overload pretty easily now to the point where after a con (doesn't matter if it's one or three days), I'll disappear for weeks on end. It used to only be a week. I like being around people, learning new things, and doing panels at conventions, but I can't handle it like I used to. Extrovert turned introvert I guess.
Also in cosplay, I make it a point to not look like me... so people sometimes have a hard time recognizing me outside of cosplay and honestly, I rather keep it that way haha.
|Naoto Shirogane from Persona 4 (Photo: Soul Drive Photography)|
What difference has cosplay made in your life?
It's made a substantial difference. I may look happy and super interactive on the outside, but I use cosplay as escape from the reality of how my life's card has been dealt, and believe me, I have a pretty crappy hand and I've gotten pretty good at bluffing.
In those moments of cosplay, I forget who I am, my problems, situations I'm unable to tackle at the moment to be someone else and enjoy the company of others. Of course, I have to go back to said issues, but that temporary escape is something I need in my life to I think what a lot of people tend to forget is that we're people too. Some of us have great lives and others not so much. So we need that break to just destress from real life (even though cosplay is it's own stress haha)
Negativity aside, I've made some good friends in this hobby and lost some too. But in doing so, I've been able to find out who I am and have grown as a person. Not to mention that my creativity has gone through the roof. I just need to challenge myself more.
What would you tell someone who wants to get into cosplay but is afraid of being ridiculed? What would you say to someone who would ridicule you or other cosplayers?
Have you ever been bullied by anyone for your cosplay? Have you ever been sexually harassed by someone while in cosplay?
I'd like to combine these, if that's okay. I run Cosplay 101 panels and some times I get parents in said panel and they're worried about their child's safety physically and mentally. And I say, “cosplay is a way of self-expression and a way to challenge oneself. My dad used to ask me why I cosplay and why I decide to spend money on this. And I would tell him, 'Dad, would you rather it be 3am and you have no idea where I am or hear sewing machine noises coming from my room?''
I also tell them that as cosplayers and especially ones that are older, we've been through a lot of negativity and some of have had to deal with “Cosplay is not consent” ourselves. But if you worry about your child and these events, one thing is us cosplayers look out for one another. So if something is going on, tell them to never be afraid to approach another cosplay with their concerns. Hell, if I'm at the con, come find me. A lot of us know how to handle situations with being harassed. We shouldn't be, but we do.
|Otoya Ittoki from Uta no Prince-sama: Debut (Photo: Otaku-Haven)|
We do this hobby for ourselves. Some may do it for fame and others not so much. But we do this for ourselves and not for anyone else. I've gotten side comments for people who just see it as immature dress up and some other comments of calling me outside of my name because of the color of my skin. I grew up in a time where 4chan was a prominent side of trolling and cosplay hate. But when you do something you love, you can't let what other people think get you down. Don't let people trample on your passion. It doesn't matter if it's for cosplay, theater, arts, or just getting ahead in life (as long as its within the law). Don't let anyone put you down.
I've been trolled, low key sexually harassed, and stalked in cosplay. But I've also been admired, a role model, and inspiration for others in this hobby. I do cosplay because it feels good and right. It may hurt with a couple of pricks of pins, iron burns, and being stabbed with scissors to the hip (and yes I've done all of these things), but I'm still here and surrounded by amazing people.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Be encouraging. Be uplifting. Be true to yourself.
|Kagamine Rin from Vocaloid (Pair of Wintry Winds). Photo by Kema Photo|
Celsius has gorgeous cosplay photos and also offers services on her Facebook page as a voice actress and a panelist as well! You can find her on the following: