As we continue our ongoing love and support I am constantly happy to see those who have an understanding heart, mind, and soul; those who fill others with happiness and joy. Cosplayers may never know how much their hard work lifts another from dark places or inspires someone to pursue what makes them happy. The cosplayer I’m introducing has a contagious smile that, I’m sure her followers can agree, can light up a room. Introducing, Atheynee!
Please introduce yourself to the readers.
My name is Atheynee (pronounced ah-ti-nay) and I’m a cosplayer from Los Angeles. I also stream on Twitch/YouTube occasionally. I started cosplaying in 2016 so I haven’t been doing it for too long, but I’ve learned and improved so much over the years. My first cosplay was Ash Ketchum from Pokemon. I wore it to Anime Expo and it was so fun. My sister actually sewed the vest for me because she had just learned how to sew. Not too long after I asked her to teach me so I can start sewing cosplays myself; that’s kinda how I ended up getting into cosplay. I’ve cosplayed characters from video games, anime, cartoons, and movies. I’ve been playing video games and watching anime since I was in elementary school, so it’s really cool to bring those characters to life as an adult.
How would you define cosplay? What is your favorite part of it? What are your principles of cosplay?
I would define cosplay as a hobby (or career) involving dressing up as characters from different forms of media such as television, film, literature, etc. The cool thing about cosplay is you have a lot of freedom with it; you can be extremely accurate, or you can be more subtle and subdued, or you can completely re-imagine a character. You can wear your cosplay at conventions or have a photoshoot to post online, whatever you want. The possibilities are really endless. I have always loved dressing up as a kid and now it’s even more fun because I can make the costumes into exactly how I want them, whether I’m creating a whole cosplay from scratch or just styling one I bought. I’m for all cosplay, whether it’s handmade or store-bought!
How do you store your costumes? Any advice on what is the best method?
I’m still working on a good method! Currently, I just store them in big Ikea storage bins in my closet. I have to fold them very nicely so they all fit. It works for now but I definitely need to find something else because I’m running out of space.
What are your top 3 cosplay costumes and why?
My first one is definitely my Riju from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It took me sooo many hours to make, I made everything from all her gold pieces to sending designs to be printed on fabric for her clothes (thank you sister for lending me your amazing photoshop/illustrator skills). It took me a month to make it but I’m so happy with how it came out. I need to give it the photoshoot it deserves haha.
My second one is my Cammy from Street Fighter. I was still very new to sewing and working with Eva foam when I made it but it came out really good and taught me some valuable lessons: always use stretchy fabric for bodysuits, and get a heat gun. I plan on taking some new pictures in it soon too because it looks really good.
And lastly my Junko Enoshima from Danganropa. I like how I incorporated my locs in the cosplay. I plan on doing it more instead of wigs because I want to show people that you can still have your natural hair in cosplay. Also my hair barely fits in wigs anymore lol.
Are there any other cosplayers that you really admire?
I really love Cutiepiesensei and Shellanin because their cosplays are always amazing and you can tell they really pay attention to craftsmanship. Their cosplays are always on point, and I particularly love that Shellanin does #curlycosplays showcasing characters with curly/kinky style hair instead of straight which is the most common hairstyle for characters. Her showcasing curly/kinky hair in her cosplays is the reason why I try to do more cosplays with my locs instead of wearing wigs. She made me want to showcase locs in my cosplays, especially because there’s such a small group of us.
I also really like Kiera Please because she does a lot of characters I would never even think of, I love how her mind works. She recently did cereal box mascots and I never would’ve thought of that, it’s so creative.
As a POC cosplayer have you experienced any challenges? How did you overcome these challenges?
I definitely get comments on my pictures saying I shouldn’t cosplay certain characters because I’m black. I think it’s safe to say most if not all black cosplayers have experienced this. I don’t let that affect me and I’m quick to delete comments and block racists. I don’t like to give them the attention they want from me.
How would you encourage fellow POC to cosplay characters they love?
I always look for new POC cosplayers to follow, particularly black cosplayers so I can binge like their posts. Not too long ago, I wanted to start collaborating with other cosplayers, particularly ones with locs, although it’s a bit hard now with the pandemic and the cancellation of a lot of conventions. But once we can start opening up again I plan on reaching out!
What changes do you hope to see within the community in the future?
I would love to see more POC, especially black, cosplayers on large nerd / geek pages, and featured at more conventions, speaking on panels, and working with brands. Representation is so important. We are hardly seen in these spaces, especially black women and it isn’t for a lack of talent or lack of trying either. I’m starting to see some change now and I hope it continues.