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Nerdbot Cosplay Spotlight: Meet Apola Star

We’ve said a number of times you never know who is behind the cosplay very often. It can even be someone who kicks some serious butt! This cosplayer is an intense, strong woman. From La Mesa, CA I present Apola Star!

Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. I am biracial, my Mom is white and my Dad is black. I left my hometown at 17 to join the Army. After spending almost 12 years in Active Duty, I transitioned to the National Guard in California and started focusing on cosplay and art. I’m currently a technician for a Sculpture department at a college and I’m majoring in Sculpture and Metals.

Apola Star in her dress uniform.

Outside of Cosplay, what are your interests?

I’m an avid gamer and reader. I also love to hike, but I don’t get out to do so as often as I would like. I also have a huge interest in learning different skills, so I’m always teaching myself new things or reaching out to experts: my current passion is leatherworking.

Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok. Photo: James Rulison

Do you use a photographer or do you do your own photography? Were there any bad experiences from past photographers? Do you have any suggestions for photographers to make their models more comfortable with them?

I do use a photographer for most of my work and I very rarely take my own professional grade photos. I would say the only bad experience I’ve had with photographers is being blown off or accused of wanting free work because I request their rates. One photographer told me that if I was inquiring it must be because I couldn’t afford it. I would advise photographers to not assume that cosplayers are trying to get free photos done and to actually have a discussion with them about it. I’ve luckily not had any awkward run-ins, but to make models more comfortable have a thorough discussion beforehand of what will be worked on as well as inquire as to whether they can have a friend tag along with them to alleviate any possible discomfort. 

All Might from My Hero Academia. Photo: DarkMindFilms

What are we looking forward to from you? What are your future goals, ideas, aspirations? What cosplays are you planning on doing (or redoing) in the future?

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I am working on a few costumes at the moment and working on pricing for specific leather armor that I am not skilled enough to make myself yet (specifically the armor from “Wonder Woman 1984“). I really hope to compete in a cosplay contest in the future, so I’m currently planning out different skills that I will need to work on to make the best costume that I can. My upcoming cosplays are Bruno from “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure,” Bea from Pokemon Sword, Tifa Lockhart from FFVII Advent Children, and two mermaids. I’m also doing a lot of video game streaming on Twitch lately!

Raven from Teen Titans. Photo: jfarrowphotos

As a POC cosplayer have you experienced any challenges? How did you overcome these challenges?

Honestly, the biggest challenge has been dealing with certain types of criticism of my cosplays. This criticism comes by way of people needing to point out that I am cosplaying a character that is of a fairer complexion that I am. During the summer months I’m rather tan, so when I cosplay characters that are depicted as essentially white people had the habit of commenting to that specifically and telling me to cosplay characters closer to my skin tone. It happened more commonly when I first became serious about cosplay…and still happens now from time to time.

Kaneki Ken from Tokyo Ghoul. Photo: ConWoman Photography

How would you encourage fellow POC to cosplay characters they love?

I personally cosplay who I love as a character regardless of how it will or won’t be accepted by a random passerby. If you are passionate about a character or even if you just think their design is amazing you should never feel like you shouldn’t cosplay them simply because you don’t resemble them. Make the character your own! Rude people on the internet have no relevance to who you are as a person nor can they dictate your worth.

What changes do you hope to see within the community in the future?

I hope that less people will try to gatekeep and be more accepting of all types of people… and most of all I hope people can just enjoy themselves without fear of ridicule or being taken advantage of. 

Don’t forget to follow Apola Star on Instagram, watch her video on TikTok, and check out her stream on Twitch.

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