First name and last initial: Erika K.
Where are you from originally, or where do you currently reside? I’ve lived all over recently, but I’ll always be a California girl at heart!
How long have you been cosplaying? My first real cosplaying experience was at D23 in July this past year.
Which characters have you cosplayed? Ursula (The Little Mermaid), Edna Mode (The Incredibles), Padmé Amidala (Star Wars), Harley Quinn (DC Comics), Lilo (Lilo & Stitch), and a Minnie Mouse variation that’s something between a cosplay and a Disneybound.
What inspired you to start cosplaying? When I was little, I had this fairy dress with a puffy tutu and these silvery white wings, and I wore it everywhere. My mom always encouraged me to be creative, so she just went with it. She made my first set of Hogwarts robes and Narnia gowns and elf tunics. When she taught me to sew, I tried making clothing and pillows and normal things, but I was just so bored. Eventually, my inner nerd realized sewing could be way more fun if I made myself into all the characters I love, with all the pretty things I’ve always wanted, and I just haven’t been able to stop since then!
What do you do when you’re not cosplaying? When I’m not cosplaying or sewing (or knee deep in hot glue), I’m riding the existential rollercoaster of life. I’m currently a senior at Columbia, so I spend most of my time studying, sleeping, or cooking to avoid studying.
Which costumes have provided the biggest challenge and rewards so far, and why? Padmé, absolutely. I thought I’d get into cosplay a couple years ago, when I went to my first con (San Diego Comic Con), and so I convinced my mom to dive in the deep end with me and make Padmé’s lake dress. Attack of the Clones was one of the first movies I remember seeing in theaters, and I begged my mom for that dress, but she insisted that I couldn’t have it unless I had somewhere to wear it. Well, SDCC was that somewhere (or so I thought). We ended up dyeing and bleaching and redyeing the fabric for the dress four times, and by then, my patience was about as dry as my melodramatic tears were wet. The unfinished dress hung in the sewing room for a couple years, until D23 rolled around and I realized I finally had a reason and the energy to finish it. It was definitely a challenge to make, but I’m so happy I did, because it’s probably one of my favorite things I have ever worn.
What is the best advice you would give someone new to cosplaying? I am still new to cosplaying, so I don’t have any great wisdom to share, but my best advice would probably be just do it. I was so nervous when I first got into it; I was worried that I wasn’t good enough, that people wouldn’t be very receptive, that everyone was going to be leagues ahead of me. Once I actually got into my cosplay and started meeting people, everyone was so friendly that all those worries did not even occur to me in the moment and I had a lot of fun. Just get your cosplay on, get out there, and you’ll have loads of fun!
What is one thing the cosplaying community can do better when it comes to dealing with each other? I’m not sure about the community as a whole, but I saw this one cosplayer dressed as Elsa, and a little girl ran up to her and got so excited that she was just bouncing on the spot. This Elsa cosplayer was incredible! She started bouncing along with her, and she was so friendly and in-character and she really knew how to interact with her little fan. Little kids don’t always get that we aren’t the characters that we are dressed up as, and so it’s really important for cosplayers to interact positively with kids and each other to keep the magic alive. I’ve always felt safe in the realm of books and movies and shows, and I think that’s something we should protect for everyone so that we all can continue to feel safe and welcome in fiction and fantasy.