The fact that cosplay is a part of popular culture, you'd think the space would be very saturated and redundant. Instead, it's quite the opposite because we all experience characters and shows differently; it gives unique expression to how they are represented. Talking to Iyanna was an enlightening experience, showing the various facets of how these characters shape us. We first began talking about her name; as with popular culture, a lot of cosplayers use cosplay names to represent themselves as cosplayers. She chose not to do this, and when asked about it, she said, "As a child, most people called me Cierra, which is my middle name and maybe cause it's easier to pronounce than Iyanna, but since I love the name, I decided to use it. Using my name Iyanna is a way of giving power to my name and reclaiming it for myself". She also talked about how she was a shy kid and was never really seen, so this is her way of letting her inner child feel seen by using her name instead of hiding behind a pseudo name.
Iyanna was the kid always in her princess dress after school. She always loved wearing her buttercup costume no matter the day, which sometimes annoyed her mother, but she loved it nonetheless; in a way, this was the beginning of her cosplay journey. She began cosplaying very lightly along with her brother most of her life but started actively doing it two years ago when she bought her first wig and cosplayed Daphne from Scooby Doo. A year later, she decided to be more active as a cosplayer and hasn't stopped since.
The Georgia-based cosplayer doesn't make 100% of her costumes herself; she majorly upcycles thrifted items and makes the accessories for her costumes. She enjoys the process of creating these costumes and, when necessary, buying what is needed to complete her costumes. The best part of cosplaying for Iyanna is becoming the character; the moment she gets into character and feels that rush of dopamine from accomplishing it, she loves that moment.
A supportive community is essential for any endeavour we embark on as humans, her support system is solid, and they are the ones who keep her pushing on the days she doesn't want to keep going. Iyanna's parents, especially her dad, are huge supporters of her cosplay, her father was the one who introduced her to anime, and he's such a huge nerd he helps her in choosing some of her cosplay. Her father also helped her reshape what is seen as "black" outside of the boundaries of what society sets. "My father helped me understand that you could love anything as long as you're not hurting anyone, that I don't have to stick to what is traditionally considered black," she said. Iyanna's girlfriend is also one of her biggest supporters; she helps her with her costumes. She has a very strong support system that includes her friends, who constantly send her costume ideas and cheer her on.
The 23-year-old cosplayer chooses her costumes from childhood nostalgia and shows she's currently watching. "I recently restarted watching One Piece and decided to do a Chopper cosplay, and I like to do characters that aren't so popular cause I feel you don't see so much of the underdogs," she said. She stated that she loves underdog characters cause; eventually, they come out on top; she also chooses characters to help bring back fun memories of her childhood and that of those that follow her. Iyanna reminisced on all the comments she gets when she does characters that are so ingrained in most people's childhoods, like Daphne and Dexter and how happy it makes her bring that piece of their childhood back to them.
She's very excited to continue cosplaying as it makes her happy, and she has a few characters she's looking forward to trying once she gets the courage to do it. She's excited to buy a blond wig and finally bring Buttercup of the Powerpuff girls to life due to her immense love for the Powerpuff girls. Iyanna is just starting on her journey and is already a fantastic cosplayer to watch; I can't wait to see what she does in the future.
About the Author: Oluwatobi Omotoso is a writer, content creator, Social Media Manager, and marketing strategist. She's an avid treehugger and lover of all things sci-fi. She has been compared to the Joker in personality tests, and her friends lovingly call her a Megalomaniac.
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