Cosplayer of the Month: That Vegan Cosplayer!
What inspired you into starting your Vegan Cosplay?
I guess I’ll start this by just talking about getting started into cosplay, since a lot of the vegan part of it will be answered in later questions. Anyway: cosplay really started, you can say, when I was really young. I always loved to play pretend. Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays because I got to dress up as a favored character or even make up my own costume. You could say cosplay for me was an evolution of this in combination with my other friends. We are all artsy types; be it in designing clothing or costumes, or painting, drawing and digital art. My best friend got into cosplaying a little before I did, which was several years ago. She started to go t o conventions, and my boyfriend (now fiance) took me to my first one: San Diego Comic Con. With encouragement, I threw together a quick Poison Ivy. I loved it! I love posing with other people in costume, I loved the attention I received and the overall feel was just amazing: I could be an adult and still enjoy using my imagination and artistic nature without dealing with any backlash! It all just kept going from there. My friends and I started to make more costumes; sometimes as a group and sometimes solo. As I could more involved in going to local conventions, I met more people and broadened my horizons. Today, I am in a group called Agents of C.O.S.P.L.A.Y., which has been an enriching and awesome experience!
It’s pretty obvious where your cosplay name comes from, why don’t you share for us a little bit about your passion and activism for Veganism.
I could go on forever about veganism and animal rights, so I’ll try to start from the beginning. I’ve always been an animal lover. My parents tell me that even from a young age I was very good and careful with animals, from good handling of companion animals to saving insects from being stepped on by others. If you ask anyone who knows me well (and especially from a young age), they will tell that this “makes sense” that I became an activist. At age 13, I learned about factory farming and it horrified me: how could I really call myself an animal lover when I supported an industry that obviously does not love animals? I became a vegetarian and haven’t looked back since. It all was a snowball effect: I started off as an animal welfarist to a full-fledged, out-spoken and unapologetic animal rights activist. I became a vegan over four years ago (closer to five now), basically a year or so into college. I joined my campus’ animal rights group (Cease Animal Torture at CSU Long Beach) and became active in other Orange County based groups like Orange County People For Animals. I am unfortunately not as active as I used to be currently; what with trying to work, get better schooling and all around trying to piece my adult life together. There are still big events that I attend, like Fur Free Friday on Black Friday and protesting Ringling Brothers when they come into town. But my beliefs and lifestyle are like that of any vegan: to cause as little harm as possible, and to not use or consume animals for any reasons.
What does “cosplay” mean to you?
Cosplay means fun! Cosplay means sharing your love of a character or fandom in the art form of costume design. It means relating to other fans about something you enjoy and love. It’s about meeting other like-minded (and like-hobbied!) folks and having a good time. It’s about showing your support for one another, for all other nerds and for the medium you are portraying by costuming as a character you love and admire! It’s not about how you look, but what you love!
You have cosplayed as many different characters, why don’t you tell us which ones, which one was your favorite, and why?
Let’s see, all of the characters I’ve done to date are: Poison Ivy, Black Canary, Huntress, a Star Trek: TOS science/medical officer, Zoey (from Left 4 Dead), Jeanette Francis (from Liberator), Emma Frost, and Thorn (from Rose and Thorn). As far as my favorite goes? Definitely Jeanette…but this one has a wonderful story behind it. The story Liberator is a four-issue comic about two protagonists that don masks as night to liberate animals from terrible places like laboratories, fur farms and dog fighting rinks. By the time I discovered it a year (or so?) ago, the Kickstarter had already been funded. I decided to email the writer, dog rescuer Matt Miner, about my appreciation and absolutel adoration that an animal rights based comic was coming out. I also mentioned how I would LOVE to make a cosplay of his female protagonist. He got REALLY excited about this concept, and it came up that if I made this cosplay before the comic came out, he would put it in the comic! So I did! I gathered my friends and a photographer of mine, and we took the shots! Some of them ended up in the second issue of this series, and even in the collectors edition too! I can’t tell you how absolutely on Cloud 9 this makes me feel. Combining two of my favorite things ever: animal rights and cosplay! When other activists and vegans come up to me or send me messages on the ‘net saying “You’re the cosplayer who was in Liberator!”, I get all of the mushy gushy butterflies in the world! I absolutely love it. I’m so happy this happened, and that I had some hand (even a small one!) on such an impactful comic!
Don’t be so shy! I’ve always been an introverted person, and it’s only really recently that I’m overcoming my own personal obstacles when it comes to socializing with others and opening up with them. I’m breaking down my walls and letting more people in. I’m overcoming fears of going up to other cosplayers and chatting with them, and essentially “feeling normal”. It’s a long process, but it’s one that works! I’m so glad there are other people out there with similar hobbies and opinions to mine! And that have the patience to deal with my timidness.
Do you plan on making a career out of cosplay?
If I could, I totally would! Though I try to keep my goals practical and realistic. Cosplay will always be, first of all, for fun! If a career were to follow, that would be great! Right now, I want to go back to school to become a registered veterinary technician. I would love to put my love of animals to some real, practical work that isn’t just protesting on the streets. If anything, I would want to keep my cosplay as a charity and for funsies. Ideally, I would love to be able to raise money from selling prints to support animal rights groups to help animals. I have my own personal list of charities and organizations that I think would really benefit from the extra money. If I could garner up enough of a following, I think this is doable! I have spoken with other cosplayers about this idea (charity causes for animals) and many people seem really interested! I hope I can make this vision a reality.
If you had unlimited resources, what is your dream cosplay?
My dream cosplay is DEFINITELY my concept of Poison Ivy. I would get the best green body paint that is out there (which is probably air brushing). I would love to make detachable vines that I could “glue” to my arms, legs, sides and face that I could cover in said body paint. I would buy contacts and always have my red hair dye on hand. And I would basically just have myself censored in the best fake ivy leaves I could buy…non-silk of course! Along with make-up and nail polish, I would totally try and nail my vision of Ivy to the best of my ability! (Along with awesome gym resources to tone up!)
Photography: Ed Stuart