I’m also the co-founder of the Midwest Black Speculative Fiction Alliance, an online and IRL community where African-Americans who like all types of genres that fall under speculative fiction (sci-fi, Afrofuturism, steampunk, sword & soul, etc) can get together. You can find Midwest BSFA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MidwestBSFA
What made you get into cosplay?
I had always found the whole idea of dressing up and going to conventions intriguing (it’s like Halloween…all the time!), but I thought I was too old to do it. Then, in 2012, I stumbled upon steampunk. I was writing a freelance story on cosplay for a local publication and ended up going to a steampunk salon. The clothes drew me in first (the corsets, really). The atmosphere was whimsical and at that time, I definitely needed some whimsy in my life. Steampunk became my cosplay gateway drug, so to speak. The following year, I started dressing up for steampunk events and that turned into cosplaying at anime and comic book conventions.
How long have you modeled?
Oh, honey, no, I’m no one’s model! LOL I just like getting dressed up and taking nice pictures! 🙂
Do you cosplay often? If so what is your favorite character to cosplay? If not what would be your favorite character to cosplay?
I dress up for steampunk events at least a couple of times a month and I attend 7 to 10 events a year where I do cosplays with my friends. I’m a part of a steampunk crew called Airship Ashanti (whose backstory is partially based in real West African history) and we do lots of themed group cosplays.
My favorite costume is probably my Garnet from our steampunk Steven Universe group cosplay. I wore seven-inch platform boots that had me towering over everyone!
Hmmm, probably a toss up between my Biker Gang Ursula for a dystopian Disney photo shoot and my Shy Violet for a cyberpunk Rainbow Brite group cosplay.
Do you buy your outfits or do you make them yourself?
I make some pieces and buy some pieces. I buy some stuff so that I can turn it into other stuff. I grew up with my mother always sewing and getting into steampunk and cosplay rekindled by interest in sewing so sometimes I thrift for things that I need, rip them apart and put them back together.
What was your first major project and how did you achieve it?
I made a Victorian-style bodice out of African print fabric for a rococoa Queen costume for an Alice in Wonderland-themed steampunk event. It required following a pattern fairly closely to get just right so it required a great deal of patience!
Tell us a little about your unique cosplay style.
With Airship Ashanti, I do a lot of mashups of well-known characters and try to see how recognizable we can make them. I mentioned steampunk Steven Universe and cyberpunk Rainbow Brite earlier but we’ve also done rockabilly Naruto as well as a Pride, Prejudice & Zombies/Homeworld Gems from Steven Universecrossover. The fun is in the interpretation!
What do you feel about the presence of (or lack thereof) POC in the mainstream media?
I feel things are changing…slowly. We’re starting to see more POC-led shows on a range of topics but it’s just not fast enough. My main concern is what happens when everyone decides POC-focused shows don’t sell anymore? Will we be right back where we started? Hopefully, the success of Black Panther will give people more incentive to check out the indie creators (like Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade) who have been doing their thing for years and receiving little to no shine.
What are your favorite events to attend?
My favorite events/conventions are International Steampunk Symposium, Cincinnati Comic Expo, MECCACon and DragonCon. I’m attending several new conventions this year that I hope will become favorites including Blacktasticon in Atlanta.
Are you watching any dope animes or any shows with cosplay worthy characters?
I’m currently rewatching Cowboy Bebop in honor of its 20th anniversary (it’s my all-time favorite anime) because I’m cosplaying Jet for a jazz tribute concert to the show’s music in September. Go to 321letsjam.eventzilla.net for more information about the Cowboy Bebop jazz tribute concert. It’s gonna be amazing!
Who was the photographer of your submitted photos?
Megan Carriger took my goth-y looking photos and Christopher George, Jr., took the Victorian Luke Cage and steampunk Aquaman photos.
Can you tell us anything about them? Maybe why you dig them as a photographer or a cool story about you two?
When we first started cosplaying as a group, we soon realized that we never got any really good pictures of our costumes. Waiting on photographers to take our pictures at cons wasn’t the way to go (even if someone takes your photo, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll actually post it) so Chris brought his camera and we started taking our own shots. Taking our own shots means we don’t have to wait on anyone else to post shots.
Is there anything you want your fans and the fans of PUNK BLACK to know?
If you want to see other cosplays Airship Ashanti has done, check out our cosplay page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/