We’ve had the chance to chat with amazing cosplayers like Mia Moore and Mindy the Geeky Seamstress, and now I’m excited to introduce another fabulous cosplayer, Emily Kelley. You may have seen her rockin’ con floors as Red Sonja, in the pages of the Women of Comicbook Cosplay Calendar, or more recently, showing her geeky trivia knowledge on Zachary Levi’s Geeks Who Drink. I’m thrilled to have her here on Geek & Sundry, talking about her amazing cosplay, crafts, and other geeky exploits.
What first got you into cosplay?
I’ve always been into costumes and dressing up — Halloween is my favorite holiday — but growing up in a small town didn’t afford me much access to a geek community or conventions. I went to my first convention 4 years ago and was so impressed by the cosplay I saw that I wanted to try my hand at it, as well. As a writer, I love getting into the minds of my favorite characters and cosplay allowed me get into their clothes, too!
Do you create your cosplays from scratch, do you cobble them together from existing pieces, commission, or do all of the above?
It depends on the cosplay. I have no formal costuming training — I don’t even know how to use a sewing machine — so it kind of depends on the level of skill needed to complete a cosplay. My Red Sonja cosplay, for instance, I made from scratch, for the most part. Others, like Zatanna and Black Canary, I was able to piece together the cosplay from purchasing individual items or using items I already had. And my Sailor Moon and Hinata cosplay were purchased complete from a company that makes custom cosplay overseas. I totally respect people who can make their cosplay from scratch, but I’m just not there yet, so I’m more than happy to defer to the experts.
You’re featured in the Women of Comicbook Cosplay calendar. What has that experience been like?
Yes! The experience has been amazing so far. WoCC is a big supporter of cosplay and cosplayers and I’m honored to be included in the 2016 calendar along with 11 other awesome cosplayers. The calendar just came out, so I’m really looking forward to being able to make some appearances to sign them and meet people.
You also sometimes cosplay with your partner, Peter. Does he help with the costume planning and creation, does one of you take the lead, or do you split the planning and preparation duties?
We got into cosplaying together, but I definitely do a bit more cosplaying than he does these days. He was actually a big help in creating my Red Sonja bikini — he helped hand-weave the scalemail and sew it on to the top and bottom when my fingers couldn’t do it anymore — and is really crafty when it comes to constructing props. Usually, I’m the one that takes the lead when coming up with new cosplay and he picks something to go with it or he just helps keep me on track.
How is the convention experience different, cosplaying with your partner rather than showing up in solo cosplay?
I’ve been lucky enough to experience next to no harassment or inappropriateness from fans and convention goers by having Peter with me. I definitely feel very comfortable and safe having him there — which is amazing because I have pretty severe social anxiety. Also, he acts as my promoter/wrangler/phone holder so I don’t have to worry about carrying around business cards or talking about our blog after having my picture snapped. It’s always nice to have someone with me at conventions, and I honestly don’t think I could go alone.
What is the best and worst piece of cosplay advice you’ve received?
The best advice I’ve received was to not let other people dictate how I should cosplay a character. Red Sonja is a good example of this since I know that I’ll never look exactly how she does in the comics — but I cosplay her anyway because I love her! The worst advice I’ve received is that purchased costumes aren’t as meaningful as handmade ones. The meaning comes from the character, not the costume. Cosplaying takes a degree of confidence to walk into a group of strangers wearing a costume.
What has been one of the coolest things to come from cosplaying?
At WonderCon 2014, when I debuted my Red Sonja cosplay, Gail Simone was a guest at the convention and I got to meet her at a signing. I was hanging out by the Dark Horse booth before her signing and someone asked to take my picture. Afterwards, he said he was Gail’s husband and she always liked to see the cosplays of her characters. When I got to her, she signed my Red Sonja #1 and took some pictures with me. Later on, she tweeted the picture her husband took of me and called me “gorgeous and fierce.” Life made!
Speaking of cool things you’ve gotten to do, I see you were recently on Geeks Who Drink! Tell us about that experience!
Oh goodness, it was amazing. From the moment I arrived on set, everyone — from my fellow contestants and the crew to Zachary Levi and the celebrity captains — were nothing but nice and inclusive. I’m a huge LOST and Supernatural fan, so when they told me I’d be on a team with Mark Pellegrino, I had a fangirl moment. He was incredibly nice and genuine and chatted with us the whole time, as did Zach. It was definitely nerve wracking being on camera and having to answer the questions, but I couldn’t have asked for a better team to be with. You can see my face when it was over and I couldn’t stop smiling!
Where can we find you online?
You can find me at Wrong Button Blog, Crafts & Controllers, and I’m ThatEmilyKelley on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And if you want to say hello IRL, I’ll be at C4 Central Coast Comic Con in Ventura, CA on August 20 and Stan Lee’s Comikaze in LA from October 30-November 1.
Be sure to follow Emily online, and let me know of some of your favorite cosplayers as well as questions you’ve always wanted to ask a cosplayer in the comments!
Image credit: Emily Kelley/Wrong Button Media, Emily Kelley/Michael Greening, Emily Kelley/Wrong Button Media, Emily Kelley/Blue Adept Photography, Emily Kelley/Wrong Button Media, Emily Kelley/Wrong Button Media