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 Jessica Lancaster
My name is Jessica Lancaster. I’m 20 and I’m from Douglasville, GA. I currently work in film as an extra and stand-in, but I do character acting for children’s birthday parties on the weekends, volunteer work in my community, I’m a scare actor for Nightmare’s Gate Haunted House.
How did you first get into cosplay?
I was first introduced to cosplay when my best friend’s mom, who was like a second mom to me, took us to our very first con, Anime Weekend Atlanta when we were 11. I was amazed by all of the costumes and how much work went into making them, that I was inspired to do the same. So the next year she took us, I pieced together a simple school girl uniform from the thrift store, nothing fancy, but I was extremely proud and excited to show it off. Well, after that year, my best friend’s mom passed away suddenly, and it was very hard on all of us. After she passed away, I continued going to AWA and taking my best friend, as a way to kinda cope and remember her in a positive way. By doing so, I was able to grow as a cosplayer. I think about her all the time. If it hadn’t have been for her, I probably never would have gotten into it and cosplay has really helped me get through some tough times. My Instagram/cosplay name, “Poke Girl Jessie”, was the email she made for me when I was in the 5th grade. The name is very special to me and I wanted to keep it alive by using it for my cosplay.
Do you cosplay just for fun or do you see it as a stepping stone to a future career?
I cosplay for fun and as a way to escape reality for a bit. I was very sick throughout middle and high school and cosplay was a way for me to be “normal” for a day and have fun. Now, I’m kinda going with the flow, I do make some money from it occasionally, selling prints and doing small commissions, but I honestly don’t think I could make a career out of it since there are so many other cosplayers that are way more talented than I am.
Do you prefer to make your cosplays from scratch, buy or commission them or a hybrid?
I do really enjoy making my cosplays from scratch, but that’s not always practical or financially possible all of the time. When I have to “buy” cosplays, I normally buy bases and then alter and add to them to make them my own. I also enjoy piecing cosplays together, even if I only make a few things for it.
How much time do you spend making each of your cosplays?
How much time is spent making a cosplay just depends on the character and how much money I have at the time. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. It all just depends on how much spare time I have, how much money I have, and how detailed I want to make the costume. Although I have made things and pulled a character together in a day.
What is your favorite cosplay you have done so far?
My favorite cosplay would have to be Raven. Raven has been my favorite Titan since I was a kid and the fact that I cosplay her now is so much fun for me. I just love everything about her and I relate to her so much.
What has been your most memorable experience (good or bad) as a cosplayer?
My most memorable experience would have to be the first time I met Yaya Han. I remember walking past her booth at AWA and I was starstruck. I was so shy and nervous, but despite that, I worked up the courage to get a selfie and autograph from her and she told me I was a cute Navi lol
How do you feel about group cosplays?
I honestly love group cosplays! They are so much fun to participate in, yes they can be stressful, but I love being in groups with my friends and making new friends through them.
What cosplays are you currently working on or plan to finish this year?
I am currently working on Ladybug/Marinette from “Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Chat Noir” and I just finished Samara from “The Ring”.
What issues do you see as being the most divisive in the cosplay community and how do you feel about it?
I think the biggest issue I see is body shaming. I feel like cosplay should be for everyone and it should be a safe place for people to openly express who they are. Cosplay what makes you happy.
What types of characters or genres inspire your cosplay the most?
I really enjoy cosplaying characters from comics, anime, Disney, video games, etc. I tend to do a cosplay from a lot of genres really. I don’t limit myself to just a few. I like experimenting and doing what makes me happy.
What is your favorite part (researching, shopping for supplies, sewing, photo shoots, attending cons, etc.) of your cosplay process?
I love shopping for the perfect fabrics! I love to have the freedom to choose what I feel would be best to make a certain piece, and the cool part about cosplaying is that you are free to do whatever the heck you want. You have that freedom to be creative and express your style, even if you’re going off of references, you can still be accurate, and be you, at the same time. And when I’m finished with cosplay, I can’t wait to do photo shoots, and go to whatever con, to show my hard work! My least favorite part is wig shopping and wig styling lol
What are your best resources for cosplay materials?
Joann is usually my “go to” for fabrics and other materials. Sometimes Hobby Lobby, but mostly Joann. If I’m buying already made pieces, I’m a HUGE fan of Amazon and thrift stores. Wigs I usually get from Arda Wigs or Amazon.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a cosplayer?
My biggest obstacle would have to be having my picture made people. I used to hate having my picture taken because I didn’t like the way I looked and I felt super awkward in front of the camera. But the more I cosplayed, I became more comfortable being in front of a camera, but I can still be super awkward sometimes lol
Have you learned any life lessons during your time as a cosplayer and what are they?
Yes, if you are really passionate about something, you can do it whatever you put your mind to. If at first, you don’t succeed, try again. Practice really does make perfect. I have found all of this to be true. I never thought I would get to this point as a cosplayer, but I never gave up. I loved what I started doing at the age of 12 and I just did it, with no intentions of going anywhere with it, I just did it because I loved it, and I just got better at my craft over time. Yes, I would get frustrated, still do, if something didn’t turn out right or I had to keep redoing something, but I never gave up. Long story short, don’t quit!
What is your golden cosplay rule that you would share with new cosplayers?
Cosplay is for EVERYONE! Size, shape, color, level, doesn’t matter, we’re all playing the same game, so we should all be nice to each other. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. It’s not hard. Cosplaying is a form of art, and it’s not cool to bash or say nasty things about someone’s art, especially after they’ve worked so hard on it. And if someone does say something negative, just leave it alone and don’t engage, it’s not worth it. If you have haters, you’re doing it right.
How do you feel the cosplay community has changed over time?
I have been cosplaying for 8 years, but I was so young when I started, I wasn’t in the community like I am now. One thing I have noticed is that it’s becoming more popular and companies are starting to cater more to cosplayers by offering more costumes accessories and materials. Like Joann for example, carrying Yaya Han’s fabric line and her patterns, and McCall and Simplicity offering cosplay patterns. That has made life so much easier.
If money and time were not a factor, what is your number one over-ambitious cosplay you want to do?
My dream cosplay is Padme Amidala’s picnic dress in Star Wars: Episode II – “Attack of the Clones”! Padme has been my favorite Star Wars character since I was a kid and her picnic dress is my favorite dress of hers. It’s so beautiful and detailed and I want to make everything and do it right!
Do you set a budget for each cosplay?
I don’t but I should lol I kinda just go with what I have at the time, but I do know how to bargain shop and use coupons, so I hardly ever pay full price for anything, unless it’s online.
What does cosplay mean to you?
Cosplay is a way for me to escape reality and have fun, but I also like to use my talent for other reasons. I do volunteer work with different characters in my community and I would like to do a Lyme Disease awareness cosplay, with Raven, to raise money for the LymeLight Foundation.
How do you see the cosplay community 10 years from now?
Cosplay 10 years from now… If anything, I think the cosplay community will continue to grow, as long as there are nerds, there will be cosplay!
What is your favorite con to attend?
I think my favorite con is DragonCon. Mainly because most of my cosplay and Instagram friends travel to attend that one because it’s so big.
Is there another cosplayer who inspires you or is your role model?
My inspiration first came from Yaya Han. Her level of craftsmanship and costuming making blew my mind, still does. But I have met and become friends with so many amazing cosplayers, that most of my inspiration comes from them. I love my cosplay friends, they’re like family, they mean the world to me and I don’t know what I would do without them.
Do you consider yourself an inspiration to other cosplayers?
I always hoped I could be. I would love to inspire others as others have inspired me. I’m hoping now that I’ve shared some of my stories, that it’ll maybe help others.
What advice would you give someone about meeting cosplayers and taking their pictures? How do you like to be approached?
Be patient with us. Sometimes it’s really hard to answer everybody and pose for different pictures, while you’re being swarmed, but we will answer and get to you as fast as we can. I also don’t appreciate being catcalled, inappropriately hit on, or disrespected while trying to get my attention.
What is one thing you wish your fans knew about you?
I usually don’t talk about this, but I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease when I was in the 9th grade and I’m just now in the end stages of treatments. Cosplay was my happy place through all of that, it kept me focused on something else, besides being sick. It was one of the things that kept me from slipping into a depression because I was so sick. It was the one thing that no one could take away from me, which is why I want to use it as a way to give back to the LymeLight Foundation, they were amazing and gave me a grant to help pay for my treatments and medications.
Is there anything that would make you stop cosplaying?
I honestly have no idea. Cosplay is a big part of my life and I always talk about cosplaying with my future kids, until they start hating it lol So I don’t know, it’ll probably have to be something big to make me stop.
You can follow and view more of Jessica Lancaster here
ADVERTISE YOUR COSPLAY ON WORD OF THE NERD
Check out our other cosplay features here
If you are a cosplayer and would like to be featured, please fill out our submission form