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Cosplay Spotlight: Darlena Marie Cosplays!

First name and last initial: Darlena B.
Where are you from originally or reside currently? Brooklyn, NY
How long you have been cosplaying? 5 years
Other Characters cosplayed: Storm, Scarlet Witch, Supergirl, Power Girl, Aveline from Assassins Creed, Black Mary, and a host of others as well as some independent characters.

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1 . Who or what inspired you to cosplay?
I started my journey of the wearing costumes from my Dad, who was a jazz musician and I would go to shows and see all these performers with nice outfits on. I also loved performing even as early as grade school so I would get involved in various school and community dance and drama projects. My mom and I would make costumes. Then I fell in love with star trek and my mom helped me make my first star trek cosplay, which was Lt. Uhura when I was in junior high school. I also loved to dress as mermaids. I mostly did Star Trek cosplay, and fantasy costuming till one day I came back from a Star Trek convention and went on this social site called trek space, which is the Star Trek version of Myspace. I met a costumer named Eric Moran and saw he also did Star Trek cosplay along with superhero characters. I always wanted to try other forms of cosplay but thought I was too old or that black people didn’t really do such activities. When I met up with him and his friends, I was like a handler holding their bags and watching them at NYCC connecting with the crowd, and I was bedazzled! Their outfits were so on point and they interacted with everyone wonderfully. I realized I was not too old to cosplay superhero characters, and that people of color do engage in such activities.  So that began my journey of cosplaying various comic and video game characters.

darlenamariecosplays-aveline

2. What do you do when you aren’t cosplaying (hobbies, community service, or work)?
I work as an Analyst, and I do a lot of volunteer work for the veteran community. I also mentor and tutor young people. I also am involved in food drives.  I like to hold photo shoots with my cosplay group and do charity. Doing charity where we go into shelters, hospitals, is the main reason I formed my cosplay group, The NY Cosplayer Network, and its subgroups, The Marvel Universe Cosplayer Network, and my Star Trek group, Starbase Centaur 42-10.  We also host free costume making workshops for kids!  When I go into the shelters/hospitals, we usually bring kid comic & coloring books with us. We also have worked with my veterans group to send comics overseas, and bring gifts to veterans in the hospital for Valentine’s Day!

darlenamariecosplays-scarlet-witch

3. What costumes have provided the biggest challenge and rewards so far and why?
So far, my three hardest costumes are my fantasy costumes with wings and my Assassins Creed costume – which cost the most between using real leather, having the blades made, and having the main part of the costume commissioned, as my sewing skills were not up to that level, nor do I have a sewing machine that sews leather. Also the Monster Maroon costume from the Wrath of Khan was a lot to put together due to the various parts, and my Kai Opaka outfit from Deep Space Nine, involved an intricate headgear and prop. The prop had an odd shape and a lot of little designs I had to cut out of craft foam and spray paint. I’ve won costume contests in these costumes and get requested a lot to do photo shoots in them as well as appearances. So the effort and money was well spent.

kai-opaka

 

 

4. What is the best advice you would give someone new to cosplaying?
For someone just getting into it, I would suggest they first analyze why they want to start cosplaying. This will determine how you approach it. How you handle acquiring your outfits. If someone gets into it for fame/ fortune/to be discovered, I don’t have any advice as to how to make cosplay work for them for that purpose. I can only speak on where my mindset is when it comes to this hobby. Since for me its about fun and escapism, I like to select characters that speak to me not based on popularity. I set aside a reasonable budget based on the reality that paying one’s bills come first. I decide if I want the outfit to be canon, or do I want to do a mashup or my own take. I make an honest decision if a certain outfit is something I can handle based on my sewing skills.  One would need to ask what they want to get out of cosplaying and what type of energy and time they can commit to it. Also, they need to decide early on not to let others opinions shape how and why they cosplay. They need to be strong enough to determine that within themselves.

darlenamariecosplays-trek

5. What is one thing the cosplaying community can do better when it comes to dealing with each other?
I will say I’m glad to see more of the cosplay community encouraging people to not be afraid to cosplay any character no matter their ethnicity, body size, or socioeconomic level. I’m glad to see cosplayers fighting to bring pure joy back into cosplaying. Not for popularity, or to impress others but just to have fun. The only judging of one’s costumes that should be done is at costume contests. Other than that the cosplay community needs to live and let live. Also we need to support and promote all cosplayers not just the ones who look a certain way, and I’m mainly speaking on when it comes to highlighting cosplayers, and showcasing them. There is still the glorification of skin color and body size when it comes to conventions ‘featuring’ cosplayers and that gets a little tired after awhile. For me variety has always been the spice of life!

About Doug T. (491 Articles)
A lifelong gamer, disabilities advocate, avowed geek, and serious foodie. Doug was born in South America, currently resides in Northern VA, and spends the majority of his time indulging in his current passions of gaming & food, while making sure not to take life or himself too seriously.
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