First Name & Last Initial: Ashley D.
Where are you from originally, or where do you reside currently? I reside on the east coast in the DMV.
How long have you been cosplaying? I remember starting around my first year of college in 2008 or ’09, so about 10 years now.
What characters have you cosplayed? Oh man, let’s see here. I’ve done: Kobato, Warrior Princess Vaporeon, Blue Fox, Victorian Steampunk Baroness, Gothic Lolita princess, Steampunk Jack Skellington, Maleficent, Lady Deadpool, Umbreon x Asuka, Steampunk Sailor Pluto, Baroness Samedi…that’s all I can remember at the moment. I know I’ve done A LOT of steampunk characters.
What is the best advice you would give someone new to cosplaying? Take risks and give yourself plenty of time to complete a project. When I first started cosplaying, I didn’t take risks like how I do now. I played it safe and looking back, I didn’t have as much fun as I do now. I challenge myself to do cosplays or take on projects that seem difficult in construction or push me a tad out of my comfort zone. I underestimate myself a lot so I used to settle for the bare minimum, but nowadays I know I can do better and cosplay helped me see that. If I can make molds and resin castings, what can’t I do? Also, last minute projects suck. Rushing sucks. I did that for my Sailor Pluto staff and GOD DID THAT SUCK! It came out well, but could’ve been sooo much better if I planned it out better. If you know you’re lazy or procrastinate a lot, give yourself the time and space to do something. Remember this; if you get in your feelings about your costume or prop being wack or falling apart, you’re gonna make those around you feel like crap. Don’t be that person. Plan ahead!
Why do you feel that #28DaysofBlackCosplay is important? It’s important to remind not only non-PoC that black and brown cosplayers exist, but remind other PoC that there are others like them who are neck deep in this community. When I first started cosplaying, it never dawned on me how the cosplay community operates; I literally didn’t see the huge divide between PoC representation and non-PoC representation. But when it hit me, lemme tell you…it hit hard AF. Cosplay pages, Instagram pages, cosplay articles, cosplay costume shops…most of the models or features are not Brown or Black people. If they are, they are hella white passing OR only cosplaying black characters and that’s so heartbreaking and discouraging. If you see that on a regular basis and only see other PoC cosplayers cosplaying black characters, you wouldn’t wanna cosplay either. You feel like you’re either put into a box or pushed out and no one wants to feel that way. It’s not easy for everyone to drum up some courage or whatever to break the mold or shake up the norm. #28DaysofBlackCosplay gives courage and hope to those who need to get shook or those who need the push to just dress or cosplay as whoever they feel like doing. It’s not just about the younger kids or teens, but about teenagers or adults who wanna jump in but not sure if they fit in. ’28 Days’ is all about getting in where you fit in.
What is one thing the PoC cosplay community can do better when it comes to dealing with each other as well as non PoCs? I guess remembering that we’re no better or different than any other community, we’re not perfect either. We have our favoritism, colorism, sexism, slut shaming, fat shaming, elitism, etc etc. Overall, a lot of people I’ve met in the PoC cosplay community have been great and not problematic but there are still some who are problematic and give the PoC cosplay community a bad rep. Simple things like saying that “I don’t see why this is offensive” or “As a PoC, this isn’t blackface” can really hurt the community as a whole. Being black, my opinions are never just mine. People on the outside will take my solo opinion and run with it as fact for the whole black community. So if I said, for example, I don’t see anything wrong with a South Korean cosplayer browning it up for cosplay, someone will use my personal opinion as fact and law. That doesn’t just harm me, but those after me. It harms everyone who is brown or black and cosplays. As black cosplayers, we accidentally become role models and faces to a community that is bigger than just us, and even if we don’t want to we have to set some kind of standard. That standard should be a positive, intersectional, inclusive, non-shaming one. As for dealing with those who are not PoC? Even if it makes them uncomfortable, we gotta put in their face the issues we face because of our ethnicity, the color of our skin, the hurt, the anger…all of that in their face and just say suck it up, buttercup. This is reality, our reality, and it’s gotta change. We’re gonna talk about it until we’re blue/purple in the face until things get better. Deal with it.