I’ve never played any of the Dragon Age video games before but I know the striking, beautiful Vivianne when I see her. I came across AfroQween’s cosplay of her and knew that I had to see more of her work! Enjoy! -Carrie
Black Nerd Problems: Please tell us a bit about yourself!
AfroQween Cosplay: I am from San Antonio but moved to Houston recently (past three years). I am lucky enough that I don’t have to work, but I am a full-time student. I am studying English with a Creative Writing Concentration here at The University of Houston Downtown. In my downtime, I usually write, work on commissions, and my own cosplays.
BNP: You’ve been cosplaying for over six years now, right? What was your first cosplay? Did you have cosplay idols or role-models that you looked up to when you first started? How have you improved over the years?
AC: Yep, a bit over six years. My first cosplay was Mira Nygus from Soul Eater. It was pretty simple but I was terrified about how it’d be received (it went well). When I first started cosplaying it was all foreign. I just knew it was fun and I liked to look up techniques on YouTube. I didn’t really have anyone to “show me the ways of cosplay.” But over the years I’ve learned to ask fellow cosplayers a ton of questions, Google is still my best friend. My confidence is still something I have to work on but, I’ve come a heck of a long way.
BNP: Afroqween is also you gamer tag? For our gamers out there, what are you currently playing at the moment?
AC: I am currently playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to really play due to school and what-not.
BNP: Would I be wrong to assume that you have some seamstress abilities under your belt? You sew and put together some of the outfits for yourself…oh my gosh. Wait, you even have an Etsy shop? Please elaborate!
AC: Yes! I have been sewing for about 9 years. I was originally self-taught, then took a fashion design course (I left once I realized I was way ahead of the game…i.e., making money already). I do have an Etsy! It started as just a place to sell some of the cosplays I’d made and that were easy and quick to put out. And now it’s something entirely different! I do custom commissions, specialty items, character themed “Casual wear”. It’s been really exciting.
BNP: What has been your most difficult/labor intensive cosplay to put together? Was it your Princess Tiana? Your Vivienne?
AC: This question!!! Ok, so far Princess Tiana has clocked in the most hours of work — 147 HOURS! Tiana was all hand-draped, airbrushed, and then a fellow cosplayer came over and helped glue over 1,000 Swarovski crystals (they were tiny –1.9mm) on the dress. The most labor-intensive cosplay was definitely Vivienne. All I had to go off of were photos. Mind you there were great reference photos out there. But, I had to create a stamp in order to get the textile print correct, draft a pattern for the entire outfit, do a ton of hand sewing on details, and then put it on — it was about 4 layers in Texas heat.
BNP: You’ve won an award for your epic Gamora re-creation. How does it feel to be recognized for your take on the “most dangerous woman in the galaxy”?
AC: That was really special for me. It was the first cosplay contest I’d ever entered and it was my first time working with worbla. I was glad that folks recognized and appreciated my comic book version of Gamora. It feels good to be the “most dangerous woman in the galaxy” even if it’s just for one day.
BNP: Gamora. Vivienne. Master Luminara. Your OC Winter Queen. You suit up as such striking, confident, and dangerous to be reckoned with, women. What draws you to these womenfolk when you start thinking of dressing up and becoming them?
AC: Honestly, I have mastered the art of the Resting B. face. (Editor’s note: Resting Bitch Face, y’all!) It’s easy for me and my body responds well to such powerful stances. I also loved that the characters I’ve brought to life are all kind of ground breakers. Gamora: This amazing, strong, powerful female character. Vivienne: Knowingly dresses to inflict fear and fashion. Master Luminara: One of the first Jedi that I’d encountered that was Black (aside from Mace), a female, and wise beyond belief. And then the Winter Queen: I love contrast. I wanted to be regal while fierce and I think I achieved that.
AC: I’m glad to see the community has grown. When I first began cosplaying there was a small community on Cosplay.com but that was all. I remember running into other POC cosplayers and being shocked and excited! I wanted to cling on to them! I’m also glad to see how other races are responding to the POC cosplay community. It has a way to go still, but the journey so far has been worth it.
BNP: Lastly, what are your future goals? What cons or events might you attend?
I also plan on doing old school Power Girl, Spider-Woman (a la afro), and Maz Katan from Star Wars. I will be attending Space City Con, Comicpalooza, San Japan, and Alamo City Comic Con, and I hope to meet you guys out there! I’m super short so look down, say hello, and snag a selfie!
Be sure to check out her Etsy shop for everything from cosplay commissions to casual wear!
Additional Photography Credits: Vivianne photo (cover photo): See or Seem Photography.