"If you told me four years ago I'd be doing cosplay like this, I probably wouldn't believe you," Says Onyinye Onyeka, aka Sasuke's Side Chick, during our interview. "I've always been interested in anime and manga, but seeing other people cosplay gave me the leap of faith I needed to cosplay myself." Onyinye has been cosplaying for the past three years and took on the persona of Sasuke's Side Chick. A quirky name which when asked the inspiration, she said, "Naruto wasn't my first anime, but when I did watch it, I fell in love with Sasuke, his strength and charisma along with his fighting style and since Sasuke is married and I can't be his wife then I'll be his side chick," she laughed while saying.
The 22-year-old Engineering student began cosplaying three years ago. Her love for anime was her primary drive along with being inspired by foreign cosplayers; she didn't see cosplay being feasible for her until she took inspiration from foreign cosplayers and took the leap to start designing her own outfits. She began her journey hand-sewing her costumes, and still does that today; with the exception of a few store-bought items, all her costumes are hand-sewn by Onyinye herself.
Her passion for cosplay drives her to cosplay and continue to create and bring characters to life, seeing that the typical setting in Nigeria is not very permissive of costuming. Her passion for art has kept her going as an artist, but also, the love and support she has gotten from anime lovers and sci-fi fans has kept her pushing on even in the downtimes. They've shown a lot of support for her art and the precision it takes to be a cosplay artist, always excited for what she has to offer; that support has been something that helped support her passion.
The most difficult part of cosplaying for her besides her location is the expenses and time it takes to create costumes and make them up to standard. It’s something she’s dedicated to which is why she works hard to be able to do what she’s passionate about.
When asked about some hardship she may have faced along the way, she talked about the difficulty balancing school and cosplaying, because it may seem like just a hobby to some but it’s a whole world on its own; like a job but more fun. All her costumes are hand sewn so the process of creating the costumes from scratch is one that’s both taking a lot of time yet also fulfilling.
"The best part," she said "is having people admire the finished work and feeling that sense of achievement in bringing beloved characters to life for those that enjoy the same things I do. Cosplay is something that a lot of people find weird especially adults in Nigeria cause they wonder why you’d spend your time dressing up as a fictional character not understanding the art form behind it," she said “I cosplay because I love it, and I’m passionate about it not for content sake.”
So far, her favorite character to cosplay is Vanessa from Black Clover; she loved how it made her feel empowered, and she loved portraying the character. Besides being a Cosplayer, Onyinye is a Computer Engineering student; she has been reputed by many as the First Major Nigerian Cosplayer, an honor she doesn't take lightly. When asked what she had planned for the future, she said, "I like to keep them surprised; I can't always reveal all the plans!" If we want to see what's next, we have to keep watching. She plans to make an appearance at major cosplay and comic events this year; we look forward to seeing what she does for those events.
The cosplay scene in Nigeria is one that’s just starting, but it’s growing with intensity, and with people like Sasuke’s Side Chick at the helm of this ship, it’s one that we’ll enjoy in the coming years. The growing love for all things nerd culture and anime is something that is already becoming a thriving market. I look forward to seeing more of what Sasuke’s Side Chick has to offer.
If you want to know more of what Sasuke's Side Chick is up to, give her a follow @layzeeloli on IG.