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#28DaysofBlackCosplay Spotlight – Jamila C.

First Name and Last Initial: Jamila C.

Where are you from originally, or where do you reside currently? I currently live in Portland, Oregon
How long have you been cosplaying? I’ve been cosplaying for at least eight years

What characters have you cosplayed? Audrey Ramirez from Atlantis: Lost Empire, Nonon from Kill la Kill, Ventus from Kingdom Hearts, Anthy from Revolutionary Girl Utena, Aisha Clan Clan from Outlaw Star, Manolo from Book of Life, Dee from Rat Queens, Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice, Garnet from Steven Universe, Mei and Ana from Overwatch, Princess Allura from Voltron, Candela from Pokemon Go and more.

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What inspired you to start cosplaying? I’ve been involved in the theatre since I was in the ballet as a kid and was inspired to make costumes in high school and college. I originally wanted to pursue costume design. Technically my first cosplay, before I knew the term, was when my sister and I attended a Harry Potter movie opening and decided to dress up in Quidditch robes and school robes. After college I attended WonderCon, back when it was still in San Francisco, and I was so inspired by all the amazing cosplayers and costumes. I knew I had found my people and my future hobby.

What do you do when you are not cosplaying? I’m a graphic designer full-time and create art/conceptual photography in my spare time. I also read a lot of sci-fi/fantasy lit and enjoy catching up on my fave anime, sci-fi/fantasy TV shows and movies.

What is the best advice you would give someone new to cosplaying? 
Start with what you’re comfortable with and go from there. You don’t have to build this amazing cosplay the first time out; in fact, if making cosplay isn’t your jam, you don’t have to even make it – feel free to purchase it. Also, there is a wealth of information out there; tutorials, commissioners, support groups, so you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Most importantly, it’s about having fun and celebrating a character that you love.

Why do you feel that #28DaysofBlackCosplay is important? 
It’s really important to me, because when I first started I got discouraged because some people told me what characters I could and could not cosplay. Of course they were race specific. It did not help that my hometown is very white. So I didn’t see a lot of people who looked like me at conventions. I loved anime, which does not have a lot of black characters. I was frustrated to be told I couldn’t cosplay non-black characters I loved, because it would look wrong. And it made me stop doing it for a while. Thankfully I found a supportive group of cosplay friends and I started seeing more black cosplayers portraying whatever character they desired. It made me feel stronger about what I wanted to do. I wasn’t alone. The more visibility, the better. #28DaysofBlackCosplay means a lot for people like me who weren’t in areas that were very diverse. This movement helped me feel connected. It made me feel like I deserved to be apart of this hobby as much as any one else.

What is one thing the PoC cosplay community can do better when it comes to dealing with each other as well as non PoCs? While we do a good job of supporting and promoting each other, we need to keep toxic behavior and negativity due to differences out of the PoC cosplay community. It’s also essential for non-PoC communities and outlets be a part of the solution to be a more welcoming environment for everyone. After all, we’re all a bunch of nerds just trying to have fun.

About Armand (1270 Articles)
Armand is a husband, father, and life long comics fan. A devoted fan of Batman and the Valiant Universe he loves writing for PCU, when he's not running his mouth on the PCU podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @armandmhill
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