First Name and Last Initial: Ni’Esha W.
Where are you from originally, or where do you reside currently? I’m a lifelong Maryland resident. I currently live in Glen Burnie.
How long have you been cosplaying? I’ve been cosplaying for about 6 years. I sometimes struggle with this question as I’ve been cosplaying since before I actually knew the word “cosplay” or what it meant.
What characters have you cosplayed? I’ve cosplayed mostly video game characters. Most recently, I had the honor to be part of the Punk Mortal Kombat group at MAGfest, where I was Punk Ermac. My other Mortal Kombat character is Sub-Zero, who’s made quite a few appearances at cons and other events. In addition, I’ve also cosplayed two characters from the Metal Gear Solid franchise, Revolver Ocelot and Fortune. Fortune has been my absolute favorite cosplay to date, due in part to the enormous railgun prop I get to carry around. It was tons of fun to make and has proven to be quite the crowd pleaser. My other cosplays include the Riddler and a few different variations of Catwoman. Of course, I cannot forget what I consider to be my very first cosplay, the character I affectionately refer to as “Super Generic Sith Lord.” This character was a Sith of my own creation, inspired partially by the Star Wars character Darth Maladi, and was my first foray into body painting.
What inspired you to start cosplaying? I’ve had a love of costuming in general from a very young age. As an adult, my earliest inspiration came from, and continues to come from, those around me. I enjoyed seeing the costumes others created and how they truly embodied their characters.
What do you do when you are not cosplaying?
When I’m not cosplaying, I can most often be found belly dancing, either in class or out with my Troupe; Tribe Denzi
. I also enjoy travelling and trying out new restaurants. Although, given my introverted nature, it’s also quite possible that I’m doing none of these things and am instead curled up with a good book and a cup of tea.
What is the best advice you would give to someone new to cosplaying? From experience, my best piece of advice is: Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. Do things you weren’t sure you could or would do. Take on that prop build you thought was beyond your skill level. Cosplay the character who’s a different body type than you. I’m a firm believer that each time we step outside of comfort zones, we learn and we grow. More importantly, each time we do so, we may well be inspiring others to do the same.
Why do you feel that #28DaysofBlackCosplay is important? I believe that #28DaysofBlackCosplay is important because it recognizes those of us who are often overlooked. It gives us an opportunity to truly shine and to inspire others. Without it, many exceptional exceptional cosplayers might easily go unnoticed.
What is one thing the PoC cosplay community can do better when it comes to dealing with each other as well as non PoCs? As PoCs, we are often our own worst critics. We can and should do better at uplifting each other. We should make it a point to tell other PoCs what we admire about them and/or their cosplays. When it comes to dealing with non PoCs, we need to be willing to educate rather than immediately taking offense to certain behaviors. Assume that a person truly doesn’t know if or why their behavior is offensive and be willing to engage in civil discussion.