Cosplay by Wendell Smith (Scorpking Costuming), Braci (Phreshxbear), and Miss Aneesa

#28DaysOfBlackCosplay at The Mary Sue, Day Twenty-Two

Meet Wendell Smith (Scorpking Costuming), Braci (Phreshxbear), and Miss Aneesa
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Hey everyone! Somehow, this is the final Monday of #28DaysOfBlackCosplay. Can you believe that the month is about to come to an end?

Before we get into today’s features I wanna thank everyone for following along with this series. I really hope you’ve found some amazing cosplayers to follow, and I hope you’ll continue to support them from here on out! As I said yesterday, since this is the last week, we’ll have three cosplayers every day until the end of the month!

Wendell Smith (Scorpking Costuming)

 

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A post shared by Wendell (@bigsmu)

Photographer: The Eyes of Aitch Photography

Wendell Smith (Scorpking Costuming) has been cosplaying for 13 years after being inspired by a friend (that’s putting it lightly, I’m sure, because we all know how those cosplay friends dangle that carrot in front of us, lol!) You can check out his story below!

 

How do you decide what you’re going to cosplay?

How the character fits me and my personality.

What cosplay are you most proud of? And yes, it’s absolutely ok to say ALL.

Hard to say… I love much of what I’ve done. But let’s say my Thanos series of costumes. They number around 13…

What’s a cosplay moment that you remember fondly?

Meeting James and Sean Gunn, while dressed as Thanos during the DragonCon Marvel photoshoot in 2014. Meeting Stan Lee dressed as Thanos at Baltimore ComicCon in 2013. And meeting Jim Starlin dressed as the character he created… Thanos

Hey, it’s time to take a break from making that cosplay or buying it off your wishlist, what are you watching/playing/reading to unwind?

Disenchantment on Netflix.

Speaking of unwinding, who are your comfort characters? Who are you going to when you need a pick me up?

My total chill costume would be from TRON: Legacy… Kevin Flynn. It’s loose and comfortable. Most don’t recognize it until I pass, so I can go through a con crowd pretty easily.

If you could live in a fictional universe where would it be and why?

Marvel Universe: Wakanda. If there’s a character, set of characters (T’Challa and T’Chaka) I cosplay most… they hail from Wakanda.

Do you tend to cosplay the character/creature/entity as is or do you put your own spin on them? Any particular reason why? And yes, it’s perfectly ok to say “because I like to.”

Mostly as is! Though I like putting my twist to some character designs. I do characters who are usually not done or as popular until they pop up in a movie. So once they become mainstream, my next versions I make my own.

It’s cruel to ask what your favorite cosplay is so what are your top three (at most)? Are they the ones being featured or are they different ones?

Thanos, Black Panther, Star Wars (Sith and Jedi).

 

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A post shared by Wendell (@bigsmu)

Photographer: The Eyes of Aitch Photography

What do your 2021 cosplans look like? If you’re trying to keep it secret OR you have no plans, that’s fine!

Bring Mace Windu back to life in the flesh. Another few costumes. Hard to say. I do many costumes a year.

 

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A post shared by Wendell (@bigsmu)

Photographer: The Eyes of Aitch Photography

In an alternate universe where money and resources are plentiful, all your bills are paid, and you’ve got nothing but time, what dream cosplays are you doing?

I do them now. But maybe a life-sized Starscream…

In yet another alternate universe, conventions are safe to return to, so where are you headed?

All the cons. All the charity events. Maybe a birthday party or two.

What inspires you to stay active in the community, especially in these trying times? If you haven’t been active that’s fine, too!

I like making and wearing costumes. I like some people. Some are cool… then there are the cooties carriers.

What does #28DaysOfBlackCosplay mean to you?

A time for awareness; a time of pride in our community; a time for celebration.

It’s March 1st, 2021, what would you like to see happen after the 28 days are over?

A repeat…

How can the community (people, events, etc.) do better to represent you and other Black cosplayers?

Be kind to one another and show one another some love.

Any tips for newcomers who are waffling on whether or not they should cosplay?

It’s yo thang… do what you gotta do. Honestly, just have fun and don’t sweat what other people say or do. You cosplay for yourself not everyone else.

What are you looking forward to in 2021? It doesn’t have to be cosplay-related, it can be anything.

My 50th birthday; 20th wedding anniversary; my son graduating HS.

Social media time! Tell us where we can find you! Give me as many links as you want. Twitter? TikTok? Patreon? I want it all!

I’m on Facebook and Instagram (here and here).

 

Braci (Phreshxbear)

Photographer: Miguel the Analog Guy

Braci (Phreshxbear) has been cosplaying for about 4 years, and once again, we have another cosplayer inspired by the influence of her friends! “They wanted to keep trick-or-treating after we outgrew the activity and suggested cosplay. I knew about cosplay before but never looked too much into it until then.” Trust me, as someone who used to do artist alley when conventions were up and running, we’d pass out candy if the convention was during Halloween weekend. Trick-or-treating is here to stay! You can check out Braci’s story below!

How do you decide what you’re going to cosplay?

I cosplay characters I like. I consume a piece of media and decide I really like and want to cosplay from it. While it is not necessary to know anything about a show or game before cosplaying from it, I enjoy being able to connect to the character I choose.

What cosplay are you most proud of? And yes, it’s absolutely ok to say ALL.

My Yusuke! It was the first time I actually sat down and made an entire piece of my cosplay (the jacket and shirt). It’s also a cosplay from one of my favorite anime series!

Photographer: FragmentedFablePhotography

What’s a cosplay moment that you remember fondly?

I was dressed as Yusuke at Katsucon and someone yelled out “are you Gucci Yusuke?” And that made my night!

Hey, it’s time to take a break from making that cosplay or buying it off your wishlist, what are you watching/playing/reading to unwind?

I’m reading fanfiction and drinking tea!

Speaking of unwinding, who are your comfort characters? Who are you going to when you need a pick me up?

Lately, it’s been Zuko from Avatar and Idia from Twisted Wonderland.

If you could live in a fictional universe where would it be and why?

Somewhere I could enjoy that Cottagecore life while being surrounded by elves and dragons! I haven’t found the perfect universe yet but I suppose Middle Earth is as close as I can think of right now.

Do you tend to cosplay the character/creature/entity as is or do you put your own spin on them? Any particular reason why? And yes, it’s perfectly ok to say “because I like to.”

Mostly as is. I’ll make minor adjustments for my comfort or to account for my sewing and/or wig styling abilities. I’m surprisingly not very good at finding ways to put my own spin on characters though!

It’s cruel to ask what your favorite cosplay is so what are your top three (at most)? Are they the ones being featured or are they different ones?

My top favorites are 2B, Yusuke, and Rei Ayanami, two out of the three being featured.

Photographer: Dancing Squirrel

What do your 2021 cosplans look like? If you’re trying to keep it secret OR you have no plans, that’s fine!

I’m trying to build my KOS-MOS cosplay! I’m a huge Xenosaga fan and I’ve been wanting to do this for years. I finally feel like I can start working on her now that I’ve built up my skills!

In an alternate universe where money and resources are plentiful, all your bills are paid, and you’ve got nothing but time, what dream cosplays are you doing?

I would love to do the entire cast of Final Fantasy X and Xenosaga 3.

In yet another alternate universe, conventions are safe to return to, so where are you headed?

Blerd, Katsucon, and Otakon!

What inspires you to stay active in the community, especially in these trying times? If you haven’t been active that’s fine, too!

Inspiration has been hard to find and lately, even more so. But it’s honestly seeing all my friends and mutuals online having fun, engaging in the same fandoms, and cosplaying from series I love that keeps me going. Their creativity and support inspire me and keeps me from becoming completely inactive.

What does #28DaysOfBlackCosplay mean to you?

#28DaysOfBlackCosplay is both a lovely and bittersweet time. It’s a time where we can showcase ourselves and expect lots of love and support. We get to show the world that we exist and we can do cosplay just as well as anyone else. But it’s also a bittersweet time because many only pay attention to Black cosplayers for a measly 28 days out of the year as if we are a trend.

It’s March 1st, 2021, what would you like to see happen after the 28 days are over?

Continued support. I would love to see stories and posts of Black cosplayers throughout the year and not just in spaces we have created for ourselves but on mainstream outlets.

How can the community (people, events, etc.) do better to represent you and other Black cosplayers?

I think they have to be conscious of their biases and make an effort to be inclusive. Sometimes that means reaching out to Black cosplayers and creators when they know they have an event or project in which they want to showcase a variety of different cosplayers. Make sure to share/like/follow all shades and sizes of Black and invite us to be guests at events. And lastly, speak up when you see us being bullied/harassed on and offline.

Any tips for newcomers who are waffling on whether or not they should cosplay?

Just do it! Make sure to follow cosplayers who look like you and just go for it. Too often people new to the hobby worry about not being “canon” or not having a lot of characters because of their skin. Sadly, I once thought that way too. But when I started to discover more Black cosplayers, those thoughts and misconceptions left me and I grew more confident as a person and cosplayer.

What are you looking forward to in 2021? It doesn’t have to be cosplay-related, it can be anything.

Growth. I want to grow my skills, grow my confidence, and develop a way of representing myself that is uniquely me.

Social media time! Tell us where we can find you! Give me as many links as you want. Twitter? TikTok? Patreon? I want it all!

I’m over on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Ko-fi!

 

Miss Aneesa

 

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A post shared by Miss Aneesa (@_missaneesa)

Miss Aneesa has been cosplaying since 2013 and says, “While all of my friends loved Disney princesses, I was obsessed with Princess Peach and Zelda after playing Super Mario RPG and Ocarina of Time.” This led her to her wanting to dress up as these princesses, even daydreaming about dressing up as Zelda for her wedding. Eventually, she learned that she didn’t have to wait until Halloween to dress up and could cosplay all year round. You can check out her story below!

 

How do you decide what you’re going to cosplay?

One way I decide is by going with what I’m feeling inspired by, which is usually whichever series I’m obsessed with at the moment. For example, last year I was introduced to the King of Fighters series through Terry Bogard’s invitation to Smash Brothers, and I felt the inspiration to cosplay him shortly after and used that flow as motivation to put my Terry cosplay together.

 

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A post shared by Miss Aneesa (@_missaneesa)

Photographer: kawaiilolliepop

What cosplay are you most proud of? And yes, it’s absolutely ok to say ALL.

The cosplays I’m most proud of are ones that are outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes I’m worried I can’t pull off certain cosplays because the personality of a character clashes with my natural personality and image, especially if the characters are very charismatic. My Bruno Bucciarati cosplay and Solid Snake cosplays are 2 that I am most proud of right now for those reasons.

 

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A post shared by Miss Aneesa (@_missaneesa)

What’s a cosplay moment that you remember fondly?

At Otakon 2015 or 2016, I cosplayed Princess Rosalina and was walking around the harbor. There was a little girl who ran up to me SO happy to see a princess and asked for a photo with me. I will never forget that moment of feeling like a beautiful role model.

Hey, it’s time to take a break from making that cosplay or buying it off your wishlist, what are you watching/playing/reading to unwind?

I will definitely be listening to Girls Generation or other K-pop girl groups to unwind!

Speaking of unwinding, who are your comfort characters? Who are you going to when you need a pick me up?

I don’t have comfort characters but when I need a pick me up, my comfort game is Ocarina of Time. I try to play this game once a year because the familiarity of it and the amazing music is very relaxing for me.

If you could live in a fictional universe where would it be and why?

I want to live in the Mushroom Kingdom where there is free money (coins) literally everywhere but somehow inflation is not a problem. We love financial freedom!

Do you tend to cosplay the character/creature/entity as is or do you put your own spin on them? Any particular reason why? And yes, it’s perfectly ok to say “because I like to.”

Usually, I prefer to cosplay as is. Recently, I’ve been trying to incorporate my natural hair more into my cosplays because it is more convenient and comfortable for me.

It’s cruel to ask what your favorite cosplay is so what are your top three (at most)? Are they the ones being featured or are they different ones?

My Ness, Villager, and Terry Bogard cosplays are my favorite. Smash Ultimate is one of my favorite games of all time plus the fact that these cosplays are probably my most comfortable and casual but still recognizable.

What do your 2021 cosplans look like? If you’re trying to keep it secret OR you have no plans, that’s fine!

I have a variety of characters in mind (Blue Mary, Tifa, Impa, and more) but no specific plans. All I know is that I will most likely be purchasing or assembling these cosplays rather than sewing or creating them since I will be busy with my final year in college.

In an alternate universe where money and resources are plentiful, all your bills are paid, and you’ve got nothing but time, what dream cosplays are you doing?

I would love to cosplay from more magical girl series like Tokyo Mew Mew, Winx Club, and W.I.T.C.H. I actually love simple cosplays, so most of those unlimited funds would probably go towards paying for extravagant locations (I would actually love to fly to Italy and do a whole Jojo part 5 shoot)

In yet another alternate universe, conventions are safe to return to, so where are you headed?

Definitely BlerDCon. The atmosphere of that convention is unlike any other convention I’ve been to.

What inspires you to stay active in the community, especially in these trying times? If you haven’t been active that’s fine, too!

Honestly, it’s hard to stay inspired and stay active now. I’ve only recently found inspiration through music and K-pop again.

What does #28DaysOfBlackCosplay mean to you?

Black cosplayers should be cherished every day of the year, but #28DaysOfBlackCosplay is a time to especially lift the voices and appreciate the creativity of Black cosplayers. Thank God the cosplay scene is changing now and [Jojo fans, in particular, are] not as racist, but there is still so much that needs to change and 28 days definitely helps with that.

It’s March 1st, 2021, what would you like to see happen after the 28 days are over?

I would like Black cosplayers to be able to enjoy cosplay without having to mute/block racial slurs on their Instagram, Twitter, and other social media pages. I would like Black cosplayers to be invited to cosplay groups and not be required to fill the spot of the 1 Black character. I would like Black cosplayers who work for fame to not have to work twice as hard for half the credit. I would like casual cosplayers who don’t want fame to not have to deal with the anxiety of cosplaying as a Black person for the first time.

And so much more.

How can the community (people, events, etc.) do better to represent you and other Black cosplayers?

You have to build a community that cherishes Black cosplayers like all the other ones. It’s easy to do a Twitter search “Black cosplayer” and invite them to your event. But if they deal with nonstop harassment and an unwelcoming community, what good does an invitation do? You can’t just invite a handful of Black cosplayers. You can’t just write about them or repost them here or there and give yourselves a pat on the back. You need to let it be known that racism is not tolerated at all, otherwise, all you’re doing is feeding your own ego and diversity quota rather than working on making actual change.

Any tips for newcomers who are waffling on whether or not they should cosplay?

I always tell newcomers to JUST DO IT! and always start with a cosplay that could pass as a regular outfit, but is still recognizable. It is already scary wearing costumes in public or for the whole internet to see, combined with the fact that cosplay can get expensive can easily leave newcomers with a bad first experience. Easy costumes like Joseph Joestar, Misty, or Ness can pass as normal outfits but are recognizable and usually cheaper to assemble. Making it as easy and simple as possible for your first time can make it much more enjoyable.

Also, don’t compare yourself to others.

What are you looking forward to in 2021? It doesn’t have to be cosplay-related, it can be anything.

I want to see my con friends again. I want to see my K-pop friends again.

Social media time! Tell us where we can find you! Give me as many links as you want. Twitter? TikTok? Patreon? I want it all!

I’m on Patreon, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

 

That’s all for now! See everyone tomorrow!

(Image: Wendell Smith (Scorpking Costuming), Braci (Phreshxbear), and Miss Aneesa)

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Author
Image of Briana Lawrence
Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)