The cosplay community holds a lot of unique and confident personalities. It also holds some of the kindest, warmest, most sincere people around. Camomo represents that kind of good-natured individuality that doesn’t dim out her badass Impa poses or her awesome photo shoots as Queen Kida from Atlantis: The Lost Empire. This cosplayer uplifts her fellow nerds and geeks, while not being afraid of expressing her opinions on oppressive or problematic issues in the cosplay community. I had the pleasure of interviewing her, so please enjoy!
Occupation: Currently a junior at Wilmington College studying Agriculture with a concentration in Animal Science
Who win in a battle, Pikachu from Pokemon or Ryo-Ohki from Tenchi Muyo?! I have to give the win to good ‘ole Pikachu.
Black Nerd Problems: Tell us a bit about yourself!
Camomo: Well I am the youngest of 5 kids, and I am the biggest nerd out of all my siblings. I love to read, play video games, dance, work out, watch anime, and just overall have a great time with my friends and family. In my spare time I volunteer at an animal shelter near my school, because it is a great way to relieve stress when I am playing with cute animals.
BNP: What are some lessons you have learned from your time in the cosplay community?
Camomo: I have learned that the best way to make friends in this community is to be real, open, and honest. People in the community gravitate to that kind of positivity, and I have made some lasting friendships/connections because of that. I have also learned the lesson that not everyone in the community is on your team. As a person of color cosplaying in a non-poc dominated world, it can be hard to find a place to fit in. Some people will be blatantly racist and discriminatory towards you, and some will try other means to put you down. They don’t want to see past your race/skin tone, and would rather keep the cosplaying world to one group of people.
BNP: How do you choose to combat oppressive people within the community?
Camomo: When it comes to dealing with people who are racist/discriminatory I handle it in a few different ways. When it is online I make sure that that person knows that their behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Sometimes these conversations lead to very heated debates, but I feel like I wouldn’t be doing the people of color community justice if I did not speak up. When I am at a convention and I hear racist/discriminatory comments or see someone acting in a discriminatory manner, I speak up. I intervene the best way that I can, because that person needs to know that what they are doing is not ok, and has no place in the community. When it comes to sexism I act in the same manner. Those who want to put women down for the choices they make is never ok. We should all uplift each other, and we cannot do that if one group is being brought down.
BNP: How do you feel about the surging popularity of cosplay in the mainstream?
Camomo: I feel that it is great that cosplaying is becoming more popular, and overall more accepted. However, I feel that problems come about when mainstream media only wants to highlight certain cosplayers of a specific race, gender, size, and social media “popularity”. People want to equate the amount of likes and follows that cosplayers get on their pictures and pages with how “popular” they are, and most of the time it is not true. There are so many amazing cosplayers out there who barely get any recognition, because they are not the right size, gender, race, and do not have the biggest following. It really is a shame, and I believe it only promotes the idea that you can only cosplay if you look a certain way, which is the farthest thing from the truth. Now do not get me wrong; there are people of color cosplayers who are popular and are making a name for themselves, but that is only due to the fact that they had to jump through so many hoops just to get where they are. So even though I am happy that cosplaying has become more popular, I hope that in the near future the face of cosplaying can become more inclusive to all who make up this awesome community.
BNP: How do you go about creating your cosplays?
Camomo: Well, first I go through the process of trying to pick the character that I want to cosplay. Unfortunately, at the current time I am still new to sewing so I commission my cosplays from my really good friend Caroline Krunchy. She is an amazing seamstress and has helped me bring my cosplay dreams to life, and I honestly would not be where I am right now had it not been for her. Right now, I am taking the steps in learning how to sew, and create my own cosplays, but it is a slow process. I have so much respect for people who make their cosplays, because it is not easy.
BNP: What are your goals for the future?
Camomo: Hmm, when it comes to my future goals I have many different plans. I want to branch out and go to conventions in many different states, and meet some amazing cosplayers. Of course I want to improve on my craftsmanship skills and start making cosplays with my own two hands that I am proud of. My goal is to improve on my modeling during photo shoots and not just be one dimensional, and hopefully those improvements will grow my following on my Instagram and cosplay page. But overall, my future goal is to have a great 2016, and embrace whatever opportunities come my way.
Princess Kidagakash from the Lost City of Atlantis Craftsmanship: Caroline Krunchy Photographer: bittersweet photography
Human Raava from Legend of Korra. Craftsmanship: Caroline Krunchy Photographer: Wan Wan Photography
Impa cosplay from Hyrule Warriors. Craftsmanship: Caroline Krunchy Photographer: Vagabond Photography