Word of the Nerd is pleased to present to you one of our most popular features, Cosplayer Spotlight. We feature new and talented cosplayers from the cosplay community. Be sure to check back every day to catch some up and coming new cosplay talent or get a look at some well established and famous members of the cosplay universe.
About Brooke Lee
Brooke Lee, or @spiced.broccoli on Instagram, is a Georgia based cosplayer, commissioner and prop fabricator. She has 6 consecutive years of cosplaying and crafting experience, with a specialty in foam props and armor. Through honing her skills in cosplay and prop building, she has successfully worked on a team at a professional prop fabrication studio specializing in TV and film production props in Atlanta, Georgia, assisting in building props for shows seen on The CW, Netflix and more.
How did you first get into cosplay?
I’ve actually been watching anime and into nerd culture in general since I was in elementary school. The older I got, my interests in nerd and Japanese culture continued to grow, as did my friends within the community. Til one faithful day, my 15-year-old self discovered a photo of someone dressed as Naruto Uzumaki with the words “cosplay” next to it and my world was changed forever. A year later I did my first cosplay and attended my first convention!
Do you cosplay just for fun or do you see it as a stepping stone to a future career?
Both. I’ve always cosplayed for fun because it is something I enjoy and it makes me happy but would love to build a career around it if possible.
Do you prefer to make your cosplays from scratch, buy or commission them or a hybrid?
I definitely do a mix of all 3. If it’s within my skillset I will normally try my hand at making it. Prop wise I usually try to make as much as can. I love working with EVA foam, it’s easily the material I’m most confident with but I know my way around a sewing machine well enough too. However, if I have a short time frame or it is an outfit/prop and not confident in making I will buy or commission some or all of a cosplay.
How much time do you spend making each of your cosplays?
I normally average about 2-3 weeks but it really depends on the cosplay. Some I’ve made in 2 days and others have taken 4 months.
What is your favorite cosplay you have done so far?
My Skyrim glass armor hands down. It was a couple of years ago now but it was my first full armor build and such a labor of love. It was a dream build of mine and I learned so much making it.
What has been your most memorable experience (good or bad) as a cosplayer?
I’ve had so many memorable moments through cosplay but having my work acknowledged by a professional prop fabricator and then getting the opportunity to intern with his studio is probably the highlight of my cosplay career so far. I still can’t believe I got so lucky haha.
How do you feel about group cosplays?
Group cosplays can be insanely stressful and chaotic but they can also be the funniest time you have all con weekend. I actually like group cosplays when they are either managed well or everyone is just having fun. I love cosplaying with my friends, so most cons we all attend together we ended planning a group cosplay of some sort.
What cosplays are you currently working on or plan to finish this year?
Currently, I’m working on a good bit of Demon Slayer cosplays. Sanemi Shinazugawa and Tengen Uzui are my active projects right now but I have plans to do a few more characters as well. Also, I have plans for a Digimon collab with a friend later in the year. As for the rest, you’ll have to wait and see!
What issues do you see as being the most divisive in the cosplay community and how do you feel about it?
I think there are many things that can cause division in any community. But it’s best to keep in mind that we can’t control others, what they do, say or how they react. We can only control ourselves, who we choose to surround ourselves with and how we react to things. We’re all here to have a good time and enjoy ourselves with like-minded people. So we should all do our best to be respectful and kind to one another, whatever your position in the community maybe.
What types of characters or genres inspire your cosplay the most?
I mostly like to cosplay from animes like My Hero Academia, Naruto, DBZ as it’s my preferred media but I do cosplay from video games like Skyrim, League of Legends and Borderlands on occasion.
What is your favorite part (researching, shopping for supplies, sewing, photoshoots, attending cons, etc.) of your cosplay process?
Definitely the moment when you put the entire finished cosplay on, make-up, wig and all for the first time and it all comes together beautifully. It’s such a good feeling makes all the hard work and stress worth it.
What are your best resources for cosplay materials?
I use TNT Cosplay Supplies for most all of my foam work. They have most everything I need in one place so I don’t have to shop around so it’s really convenient; plus I like their products a lot. For sewing and smaller things, Jo-Anns, Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, and the other fabric shops near me are always on my “to visit” list when shopping for materials.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a cosplayer?
Learning to be comfortable and confident with myself and my own ideas; not placing my self worth in others’ opinions of my craft. I’ve gotten much better with this over the years but like most people I want others to like and appreciate the work I put out. So it can always be discouraging getting negative feedback. But it’s impossible to please everyone all the time, so I’ve learned as long as I’m proud and happy with my work that’s what’s most important.
Have you learned any life lessons during your time as a cosplayer and what are they?
I think my answer to the previous question also applies here. Learning to be confident in one’s self and work is one of the hardest lessons I think most people have to learn in general.
What is your golden cosplay rule that you would share with new cosplayers?
Always cosplay for yourself. As long as your happy with your work, and you’ve had a great time that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
How do you feel the cosplay community has changed over time?
Considering when I first started cosplaying was the same year my home state got its first-ever convention, I’d have to say it’s changed A LOT. Cosplay over the last decade has gone from something that was a very selective, niche thing, (even considered strange and a bit taboo in some places) to now being a huge part of mainstream nerd culture. While there’s good and bad that always comes with things like that, I think amazing how far we’ve come as a community.
If money and time were not a factor, what is your number one over-ambitious cosplay you want to do?
Oh man, I have several! Hahaha. If I had to pick I’d say it’s a tie between Deadric armor from Skyrim or Ysera from WOW. They aren’t insanely outrageous but I know I’d want to invest a lot of time and money into both of these builds that I normally wouldn’t be able too.
Do you set a budget for each cosplay?
I try extremely hard too but I often end up over budget because I underestimate things.
What does cosplay mean to you?
This is probably the hardest question to answer if I’m honest because cosplay means a lot of things to me. It’s a passion and love for crafting and bringing characters to life in our own way, it’s great sources of pride and happiness but also stress and it’s the mildly dysfunctional but always amazing family of friends I’ve come to know and love.
How do you see the cosplay community 10 years from now?
I honestly just see the community continuing to grow as it has, especially with the way Esports is growing and developing. I believe the continued growth of Esports and nerd culture will continue to open doors in the cosplay community that makes starting a career in cosplay and content creating more accessible.
What is your favorite con to attend?
I’d have to say KatsuCon mainly because it’s the first con I usually attend each year, so it’s like a big family reunion where I get to see all my old friends as well as the new ones I made last con season. So it’s always super exciting and fun for me.
Is there another cosplayer who inspires you or is your role model?
It sounds lame and cheesy but honestly, every friend I’ve made in this community has become a great source of inspiration to me. Everyone is always working so hard, trying their best and they’re all so talented.
Do you consider yourself an inspiration to other cosplayers?
Not personally no, but I’ve been told that before and it was very surreal. I may have cried a little hahaha.
What advice would you give someone about meeting cosplayers and taking their pictures? How do you like to be approached?
Just be kind, respectful and always ask permission first. It just feels super creepy to look over and see someone taking a picture of you. Even if we are decked out in something insanely awesome, we’re still people so it’s still an uncomfortable feeling. Most of us are fairly nice and want you to take the picture because we’re proud of what we have on (granted we aren’t eating, or clearly preoccupied/in a hurry), so just ask nicely but please don’t get offended if we say no at that moment. We’re probably just tired.
What is one thing you wish your fans knew about you?
If you ever see me at a con or anywhere please come say hi! I know I can give off pretty chaotic energy at cons but it’s only because I’m so excited and happy! So please don’t be shy, I really want to meet you!!
Is there anything that would make you stop cosplaying?
If it stopped being enjoyable and making me happy I likely would. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it though.
Word of the Nerd is your source for all things nerd!!! Whether it's comic books, cosplay, gaming, pop culture, movies or television. If it happens in nerdom, Word of the Nerd will be there to cover it.