Cosplay comes in many shades, shapes, height, and age. I want to thank the parents of this cosplayer for granting me permission to do this. It takes strength to come out and talk about community and cosplay for any age. I’m happy to introduce this young cosplayer, Kolya.
Please introduce yourself to the readers.
Hi! My name is Kolya and I‘m a 16 year old cosplayer from California.
What made you start cosplaying? And how long have you been into it?
I was a huge fan of Vocaloid when I was younger which later led to a middle school anime addiction. I didn’t know anything about cosplay until I met other anime fanatics online and in school. After a quick Google search I was instantly hooked on the costumes, makeup and hairstyles. I wanted to try it out myself. Since then I’ve been into it for about seven years and I look forward to continuing this hobby.
How would you define cosplay? What is your favorite part of it? What are your principles of cosplay?
I’d define cosplay as something you can indulge in as a creative outlet. I like having fun with my makeup and try to use it as a reflection of the character’s color scheme and/or age and personality. I also just really like dramatic eyeliner and lashes. Aside from being a creative outlet, I find cosplay is a good way to connect with other fellow cosplayers and people in different fandoms. My favorite part of cosplaying is the overall transformation of myself. I think it’s so amazing that cosplayers are able to pick up a wig and a brush and change into completely different people. My cosplay principles would be that anyone can cosplay regardless of gender, age, etc. and that it’s really all about having fun doing something you enjoy. Also, if you’re an aspiring cosplayer, practice makes perfect. I didn’t learn how to re-draw eyebrows overnight. Determination and ambition could be considered key when cosplaying.
What has been one of the coolest things to come from cosplaying?
Some of the coolest things that came from cosplaying would be learning new techniques regarding makeup and wig styling (which I still need improvement on, lol). I also like how I’m able to bond with people over a similar interest in characters when I go to a con. It’s nice seeing a bunch of people together just having fun over what they love. It’s also refreshing to see the excitement others develop when you cosplay a character of mutual interest.
As a POC cosplayer have you experienced any challenges? How did you overcome these challenges?
As a POC cosplayer, I’ve been lucky enough not to experience as much hardship as a lot of my other POC cosplaying mutuals have. It’s not uncommon for me to stumble across racists in the cosplay community though, and at times it can be very disheartening. The blatant racism this community has is unbelievably problematic seeing as I, and many others, view cosplaying as a way to just have fun. “You can’t cosplay that character because he/she isn’t black” is a statement a lot of us POC are not strangers to. I overcome [such] ignorance by shunning the petty comments. I do what I want and I love what I do. Who’s to say the color of my skin or ethnic features will stop me?
How would you encourage fellow POC to cosplay characters they love?
I’d encourage other POC big time to cosplay if that’s something they find themselves interested in. I’d encourage the mentality of not caring what anyone has to say about the way you look and work towards an appearance you’re happy with whether it be true to character or with a creative twist. It’s nice seeing a different array of people participate in a mutual interest. It’s even nicer to know that said array won’t let anyone or anything hold them back from developing and indulging in a hobby.
What changes do you hope to see within the community in the future?
I’d love to see more POC being recognized for their outrageous cosplays in the future. I also hope that over time, we’ll be able to keep negativity out of a community that’s supposed to be wholesome. Hate has no place in a community where people are supposed to have fun and just vibe with each other and themselves.
I love the strength and honesty you have; thank you so much, Kolya! Definitely give Kolya some love on her Instagram.