We had the opportunity to chat with Ani-Mia, a lovely and gorgeous cosplayer from New York. She has been keeping herself busy with attending conventions, creating outfits, and cosplaying as different types of characters including Supergirl, Rogue, Rydia (Final Fantasy IV), Sally Jupiter and many more. We chat about Doctor Who, Tomb Raider, wardrobe malfunctions and more.
John “Spartan” Nguyen: Let’s do this!
Ani-Mia: Let’s do it!
John: Bring me back into your childhood.
Ani-Mia: I’ve pretty much been, I guess you could call it a geek or a nerd all my life. I grew up with my dad and he was really big into collecting comics. He watched Star Trek and Battlestar and all those kinds of shows and he just kind of got me started on it. I’ve kind of always been a daddy’s girl, so I was kind of a tomboy growing up.
And then I got into comics and got to be a big movie and TV buff.
I started going to conventions in ’07, and I started to see people dressing up in costumes and I said, “Wow, that looks like a lot of fun. I want to do it!”
So I went to my first convention in cosplay in 2008 and it was horrible! I bought it on the Internet. It didn’t fit right, and I looked like a giant marshmallow. It was horrible. I mean, I had a great time, but I think at that point I was like, “Okay, if I want to keep doing this, I need to do it where these outfits actually look right on me.” So I definitely started. I already know how to sew, and then I started finding these tutorials online and learning how to make my own costumes. That’s kind of how it all got started.
John: So what was your first proud cosplay then?
Ani-Mia: That would have to be my Lulu [Final Fantasy X]. I was really proud of that one because that was actually one that I wasn’t expecting to be able to do from the start, but it took me the longest. So when I got it done, I actually got to walk around at conventions as Lulu. It was so much fun.
John: I bet it was like hell trying to walk through a convention in that?
Ani-Mia: Yes, that was really hard with all the belts in the front. It ended up weighing so much. I actually have to support it on the top because if I just walked around with it with safety pins connecting the corset to the skirt, it would just like try and fall off all the time.
John: And you wouldn’t want that to happen at a con.
Ani-Mia: Yeah, I’m sure that other people probably wouldn’t have minded if it happened, but I didn’t want that to happen.
John: Have you ever had any wardrobe malfunctions before at a con?
Ani-Mia: Luckily I haven’t had any at a con. I have had them during photo shoots because I would be getting into different poses and positions. Sometimes to get a really cool shot, I would be climbing up onto a tree, but I’m in a skirt. Luckily no wardrobe malfunctions at a convention. I’m pretty good about taping everything in and sticky-taping everything. But definitely during photo shoots it happens.
John: So I guess during the whole process you make sure before you make the outfit to have everything put together well.
Ani-Mia: When I’m designing it and kind of looking at the costume and figuring out how I’m going to actually put it together, I’m always making sure that I keep in mind how am I going to make sure that this stays up. It’s hard because a lot of costumes are kind of gravity defying, especially like an anime. When it translates into real life, it’s a little bit more difficult.
So definitely a lot of figuring out how to actually make something structurally sound.
John: You enjoy playing video games. You have recently played Dishonored and Skyrim. Are you excited for Tomb Raider?
Ani-Mia: Yeah, I actually really am. I got to play the demo at Comic-Con and it was so much fun. It’s really different from the previous Tom Raiders and the graphics are amazing!
John: I know that Lara Croft’s outfit isn’t as extravagant as your other cosplay, but would you be down to cosplay as her in the future?
Ani-Mia: Oh definitely! Definitely! I mean, I love being able to cosplay as powerful and strong female characters. So that’s definitely one that’s on my to-do list.
John: How do you choose the time to focus on what you want to do, whether it’s reading comic books, watching anime or playing video games?
Ani-Mia: That’s hard. The more I’ve been putting into cosplays, the more it’s kind of taken over my other hobbies. Like I found that I don’t play nearly as many video games as I used to like three years ago. I’m always watching something on TV, so I’ve always got my movies or TV shows going on. I’m definitely listening to something in the background while I’m working on my cosplays, and then I guess usually I play video games when I don’t even want to look at cosplays. I work full-time too, so when I get home from work, I don’t even want to actually work on anything. I just want to sit here and play video games. That’s kind of how that happens.
John: I think that’s true for every one of us. You just want to relax and take your mind off of things.
Ani-Mia: Especially with some of my costumes that require so much thinking sometimes. That’s true with armor. You have to really think about what piece comes first, because it all has to go together a certain way. At the end of the day, if my brain’s fried, I don’t want to do it.
John: So what’s that one cosplay you’re working on right now that you just can’t wait to finish?
Ani-Mia: Oh I’ve got two right now. So I usually work on up to five costumes at a time just because I’m a little ADD. I’ll start one and then get to a part where I don’t want to do anymore. Then I’ll start another one and then I’ll come back to that one. It gives me a little bit more freedom to have different options on what I want to work on at the time.
I’m working on my Catwoman. I’m so ready for that one to be done!
John: What’s taking that one so long?
Ani-Mia: With Catwoman, the Ame-Comi version, there’s actual armor that I’m putting together for it for legs and her arms. And it’s just – getting everything to fit right. Armor is one of those really challenging things where it’s really got to fit right. You can stretch fabric, you know, and you can get a little leeway with that, but when it comes to armor it’s kind of really precise.
I’m like, “I get a little bit done, and then I don’t want to look at you,” so I’ll put it away. Then a couple of days later I’m like, “Okay, I’ll work on this part,” and then, “I don’t want to look at you anymore!”
John: There are a lot of events happening. Do you have outfits to debut for each convention?
Ani-Mia: So I used to have this grand idea that every convention that I go to, I want to have three new outfits, like a new outfit each day that no one has seen. And now that I’m scheduled for 13 conventions I’m realizing that’s not going to happen
John: Wow, 13! So anyone of them including Dragon*Con?
Ani-Mia: No, I wish. I was not able to get tickets in time and the hotel rooms are gone.
John: I guess the other 13 conventions will be good enough, but it is Dragon*Con.
Ani-Mia: Yeah, I know. That’s one that I’ve been really wanting to go to. I work a full-time job so my hardest thing is getting my work to say, you can take all that time off.
John: So you did modeling before you did cosplay, right?
John: Can the modeling world coexist with the geek cosplay world?
Ani-Mia: It’s a completely different community. I used to do more fashion modeling, and it kind of gotten to the point where when my cosplay photos started coming out, a lot of fashion people started backing away because it’s so different. They didn’t know what to do with it.
So, you’ll find those niche companies, like one that I modeled for that does like leather work. So that works out really well because they understood the whole cosplay world. To be able to do high fashion stuff, it’s a completely different world!
John: Cosplay all the way, yes?
Ani-Mia: Oh yeah, oh yeah! It’s so much more fun and it’s creative. I like it a lot more.
John: You’re a big fan of Doctor Who.
John: You should cosplay as a Doctor Who character.
Ani-Mia: No I’ve been thinking about it. I would really like to do my own version of David Tennant or even doing a Rose cosplay. She’s my favorite companion. But, yeah, I’ve actually been thinking about it, but in a way it’s me trying to figure out a way to be original with it.
John: Now you have to do it, since I said so. [laughs]
Ani-Mia: I know! Yeah, I know, I’ve actually – this is my second time watching the series through and I’m introducing one of my friends to it. I’ve been getting her hooked!
But, yeah, I want to be able to come up with something different, a different design. Kind of like how I did with the Star Wars Wampa. I didn’t want to be the ten millionth Princess Leia, so I was like, “Okay, I’ve got to think of something different,” and then that’s where that idea came from. But I’ve got to figure out something different for Doctor Who.
John: Here’s a suggestion, sexy Sonic Screwdriver.
Ani-Mia: I’m not sure how that one would work.
John: Or a sexy booth…
Ani-Mia: That – yeah, that would be kind of interesting.
John: What is it about conventions that excites you?
Ani-Mia: For me being able to see a lot of my friends. I live in upstate New York so I don’t really have very many cosplayers that live around here, so I’m out here on my own. I like San Diego Comic-Con because a lot of my cosplay friends are in California. It’s my one chance to get to see all of them for the year. It’s just so crazy. I just want to be a guest at San Diego Comic-Con, you know, I want to dress up in costume, but I want to get that full experience of being able to wander around the convention. It’s like being a kid in a really huge candy store!
John: You don’t want that experience! Waiting in line for panels and being stuck in a sea of people.
Ani-Mia: Oh yeah, maybe not that one. I had some friends last year that camped out overnight and slept on the tables. I was like, “Okay, I’m not that dedicated,” but I did make through a couple of panels that I really wanted to go to, which was nice. I think this year it’s going to be less panels and more interacting with the cosplayers.
John: Who do you want to direct the Justice League movie?
Ani-Mia: Personally I would love to see Joss Whedon direct it. He’s my favorite director and has been since Buffy. He did such a good job with the Avengers, but I kind of wondered if that would be a little bit of Joss Whedon overkill.
John: I don’t know; it might not because look at J.J. Abrams. He did Star Trek and now he’s doing Star Wars.
Ani-Mia: Exactly, exactly!
John: If Joss Whedon were to do that, like do the Justice League, he can bring the Marvel and DC fans together.
Ani-Mia: That would be a good cause.
John: Everyone is just going to get along and hold hands!
Ani-Mia: I think so, maybe a little bit more. I don’t know, some people are so stuck on their fandom that it would be hard, but I think it would bridge the gap a lot more.
John: Any advice on cosplaying?
Ani-Mia: I think my advice to cosplay is don’t be afraid to try something new. I know that it’s kind of nerve-racking even for me to try like a different material or a different construction method. it’s kind of intimidating, but it’s one of the those things where the more you do it, the easier it gets.
And then, you know, just especially going out on the Internet and putting yourself out there, there’s always going to be haters. There’s always going to be people that are just going to be mean for no reason, and you just kind of have to have a thick skin and ignore all of that and just do it! Don’t be afraid of what people may say because, you know, other people’s opinions shouldn’t really matter to you as much as your own.
I feel bad that there’s cosplayers out there who are afraid to show off their outfits because they’re worried about what people may say. For me it’s just kind of like, excuse my French, but screw em’! Do what you love and show off what you love and that’s all that really matters.
John: And that’s why we get into the community, because we love the stuff that we do!
John: Well anyway, thanks a lot Mia for doing the interview with us.
Ani-Mia: Yeah, no problem. Thank you for having me.
Photo credits: Ron Gejon (Rogue, Holiday Miku), Anna Fischer (Supergirl), Eurobeat Kasumi (Sally Jupiter), NW cosplay (Nyu from Elfen Lied, Lulu from FFX)