For many, the act of cosplay is simply dressing up as a favourite character, or admiring a costume design so much that they just have to make it. But for some, cosplay is an emotional journey. As someone whose primary focus when cosplaying is creating a complete portrayal of the character – in both dress and personality – I'd like share all the steps I take with anyone else invested in making their costume a deeper experience.
Step 1: Choosing a character
When taking on the personality of a character, sincerity is important. Being able to believe that you actually are the person you’re dressed as makes your rendition of the character believable. If you have to force yourself into a particular frame of mind, you will likely feel uncomfortable or embarrassed, and that will show in your portrayal. When choosing who to cosplay, I always pick a character with a personality I already reflect, or who has a driving motivation I can relate to; however, as someone who is also an actress, I get a lot of enjoyment from taking on character traits that are completely opposite my usual self.
For example, when I decided to cosplay DC’s The Riddler, it was an easy transformation, because I fully embrace that I’m a complete weirdo, and channeled that into hunting down little kids dressed as Batman and asking them to answer crazy riddles. On the other hand, when I did a female version of Dean Winchester from Supernatural, I called up my paralyzing childhood fears that monsters were real, and walked around all day as a badass demon hunter who finally overcame her nightmares. And as Narcissa Malfoy (Harry Potter) I took on the challenge of being frigid and aloof – the exact opposite of my normal happy and friendly personality.
No matter how you arrive there, truly becoming a character means using them as a vessel, rather than making yourself into a mannequin. Being able to extract key aspects of a character’s persona and making them your own is the very first step in the transformation from “regular you” to whoever you want to be. Cosplay can become such a powerful expression of identity, because who says you have to be just one person all the time?
Alex is an aspiring author and second-year Professional Writing student at Algonquin. She loves to edit manuscripts, make costumes and play video games. Alex finished her first novel last year during National Novel Writing Month and intends to write a second this coming November, despite working and going to school.