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 Tuesday and Thursday 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 Michaela Lee
Hi, my name is Michaela Lee. I graduated in 2017 with a degree in Business Management. I worked for 2 years as the Regional Operations Manager for a national healthcare company that worked specifically with pregnant women struggling with substance abuse.
February 2019 I officially switched industries without any training or contacts and started acting. March 2019 I started cosplaying as well, and love it! Well, so far so good! ;D
How did you first get into cosplay?
Funny story really! In March 2019, I was going to be in a hip-hop music video and the director gave us free rein on our own wardrobe. I did not know what cosplay was at the time but chose to dress like KDA Akali. I posted a picture to my Instagram and a photographer named Jeff Jenkins reached out to me saying he was a “cosplay photographer” if I ever wanted to collaborate. I had to google the term but agreed! After that shoot, I gradually became super into cosplaying and have cosplayed about 13 characters to date.
Do you cosplay just for fun or do you see it as a stepping stone to a future career?
I recently decided to pursue a career in acting and believe that cosplay goes great with that. My Patreon page helps a lot with funding my cosplays as well. All the support I have already received through my Instagram shows me that cosplaying will be more than just a fun hobby for me.
Do you prefer to make your cosplays from scratch, buy or commission them or a hybrid?
My talent does not quite extend to cosplay making yet, so I buy some from eBay and also partner with those who are gifted in costume creation! My upcoming Mercy cosplay will be personally made and I also have acquired a weapons designer!
How much time do you spend making each of your cosplays?
Honestly, I am very fast yet thoughtful. I know the characters I cosplay very well, so the overall look comes naturally and quickly. I am working on 11 right now and even have plans to shoot 3 in one day(professionally).
What is your favorite cosplay you have done so far?
This one may come as a surprise due to my League of Legends obsession, but Princess Bubblegum has been my favorite. This character was symbolic of a past serious relationship I had that caused a lot of pain. It was a turning stone for realizing how I should be treated in a relationship and what I will no longer stand for. I had the PB costume, previously to be used as a couple’s Halloween costume, but put it on and rocked it on my own for my second cosplay.
What has been your most memorable experience (good or bad) as a cosplayer?
Hahaha. It definitely has to be Officer Caitlyn. That was not just a photoshoot. That was an experience. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. Now, picture me wearing that alone in a big city… It was a good 5 min before I met up with my photographer. I was approached by a woman “looking for THAT kind of job,” a drug dealer listing off everything he had and offering a good time, and more. IN 5 MINUTES. Unfortunately, post-shoot driving home I was super low on gas and had to stop. Everyone whistled at me, and the cashier even put his hands up acting as I would arrest him… then insisted on me handcuffing him. He told me how hot I was and that he wished he could say more but the “manager was listening.” Side note: I am not the type of person who just struts it and loves the attention. It took me 10 minutes to get out of my car at that gas station because I was so bashful. But I am also the troll type who tells the drug dealer I’m good because I am already super high just to throw him off hehe. Although he did then try to buy drugs off me…LOL (just to clarify, I do not do drugs)
How do you feel about group cosplays?
I have never done a group cosplay. I have no friends who cosplay but would totally be up for a group cosplay if it stays under 5-6 people!
What cosplays are you currently working on or plan to finish this year?
You can always check out my Instagram highlight titled “Next Cosplays” for this information by the way. Plan to finish in the next few months (most are already scheduled to shoot): Arcade Miss Fortune, Starfire, Mercy, Freljord Ashe, Star Guardian Lux, Spellthief Lux, Pajama Guardian Lux, Cirilla, The Moga Sweetheart, Android 18, Pajama Soraka
What issues do you see as being the most divisive in the cosplay community and how do you feel about it?
I am not sure I have been in the cosplay community enough to know yet. However, I would say that I don’t think great photographers get enough recognition as the actual cosplay artist themselves. I have worked with some amazing photographers, such as Jeff Jenkins and they just do not get enough notoriety as they deserve for making us look so good.
What types of characters or genres inspire your cosplay the most?
Video games like League of Legends- I have always loved video games.
What is your favorite part (researching, shopping for supplies, sewing, photoshoots, attending cons, etc.) of your cosplay process?
Figuring out how to embody the character best (costume, right photographer aesthetic, location) and seeing my supporters hype around the new cosplay.
What are your best resources for cosplay materials?
Partners! I think partners/ collaborations offer the best materials because they are the best at their given niche. I would love to have more in the future.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a cosplayer?
Trying to not overspend.
Have you learned any life lessons during your time as a cosplayer and what are they?
It has definitely gotten me to reach out of my comfort zone and I have approached cosplaying/my Instagram totally as myself without any front. I have learned that people appreciate that and gravitate towards me being genuine (even if it is super goofy).
What is your golden cosplay rule that you would share with new cosplayers?
Embody the character over “looking good.” For example, cosplaying Lux- focus on portraying positive energy and light in your eye over duck face/sexy glare in your eyes. Leave that for Miss Fortune.
How do you feel the cosplay community has changed over time?
No idea, honestly, but it has grown.
If money and time were not a factor, what is your number one over-ambitious cosplay you want to do?
Elementalist Lux…. In EVERY element!
Do you set a budget for each cosplay?
No, just try to keep it low without compromising quality.
What does cosplay mean to you?
Getting to embody a character you would otherwise never be and bringing them to life in your own, unique way.
How do you see the cosplay community 10 years from now?
More integrated with normal modeling/ expanding outside of just the immediate cosplay community.
What is your favorite con to attend?
Only been to one small one, but DragonCon sounds fun.
Is there another cosplayer who inspires you or is your role model?
I am more inspired by the character itself
Do you consider yourself an inspiration to other cosplayers?
What advice would you give someone about meeting cosplayers and taking their pictures? How do you like to be approached?
I am pretty laid back, just make sure it is consensual haha.
What is one thing you wish your fans knew about you?
My positivity and light do not come from naivety or a perfect life. I have had a less than perfect upbringing and overcome a lot of pain throughout. I still struggle with anxiety due to a brain injury and bad relationships of the past. Being happy is a choice, and it is never too late to choose it. “The world has seen enough darkness!” -Lux.
Is there anything that would make you stop cosplaying?
Not that I can think of off the top of my head. So, sorry: it looks like you’re stuck with me! ;D
You can follow and view more of Michaela Lee here:
Check out our other cosplay features here
If you are a cosplayer and would like to be featured, please fill out our submission form
We are looking for new writers! If you are interested in joining the Word of the Nerd team, click here to fill out an application