Ladies of Cosplay: Mikaela (aka April O'Neil)
Summer is upon us and while for many of us are planning our trips to the beach, I think it's safe to assume that just as many of us are getting ready for Boston Comic Con in August. This means a flurry of activity as we make plans, obsessively check the guest lists, and get our cosplay ready. The Ladies of Comicazi will be there with a few surprises (more on that coming soon), and we hope you stop by and say hi. But as we eagerly await the big event, I wanted to take a moment to highlight a special cosplayer who's not only gorgeous and talented, but also related to Tiny Doom and I (please don't hold that against her, she really is a lovely person).
Mikaela (aka April O'Neil) is an up and coming cosplyer based out of New York. She was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions for us about her experiences doing cosplay.
How did you first learn about cosplay and what made you start participating?
How do we learn about anything? The internet! LOL! I was looking up pictures of superheroes online and I came across a woman dressed as Rogue, from X-Men. I then started to research cosplay, started participating in chat rooms as well. When I first discovered all of this I hadn't transitioned yet. I was still hiding who I was. I saw cosplay as an outlet for me to be who I really wanted to be. I attended my first convention back in 2010, NYCC, as April O'Neil. It was very well received and for the first time ever I felt amazingly confident. Cosplay gave me courage that I don't think I would have had otherwise.
Speaking of your transition, is there is anything you would like to talk about in regards to the cosplay community and its response to your transition? For instance have you found cosplayers to be more or less supportive?
That is difficult to answer. A majority of the cosplayers that I know, that have supported my transition, I was already friends with. I haven't really found a good outlet to gauge what people, in the community, think about it. I did come out to my followers on DeviantArt last year, in a journal entry on Transgender Day of Visibility. I can say that I got mixed responses, a majority of them positive. Then of course you have some that are negative as well. Someone, who I assume follows me on DA, commented on one of my April videos on YouTube. He said he can't really like my video because I'm a man. In my experience though, everyone I meet who discovers I am transgender has been overwhelmingly supportive. It could be luck, it could be things are moving in a positive direction as we move into the future, I am not sure. I can say I feel truly blessed to get that amount of support and I hope that will always be the case no matter who I meet in the community.
Which cosplay/fandom is your favorite?
I only choose to cosplay characters that have a special place in my heart. I grew up on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it was my first love. I always looked up to April. She had a feisty attitude, independent, smart, brave and one hell of a driver. I always wanted to be her, so to be able to cosplay her is actually a dream come true. Catwoman is another favorite who I cosplay quite often and I have multiple versions of her to wear. I have many other favorites, many other characters I want to cosplay. It's an expensive hobby, all in due time lol.
Do you have any suggestions for others who want to get into cosplay?
If the interest is there, do it! Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something. It's not only a lot of fun, but I have met people I wouldn't have and did things I never thought I would do because of cosplay.
Favorite cosplay experience?
My favorite experience was when I went to a con as Catwoman. I was walking around the convention center and I had a little Batman come up to me. He held on to my leg very tightly and said "You're mine, Catwoman." It was the cutest and most heart warming moment. I spent a little while with that little boy as he told me about why he loves Batman so much and I took a picture with him. He thought I was really Catwoman and it was such an wonderful experience.
Any bad experiences with cosplay or the community?
I have been lucky in this regard. I know a lot of cosplayers who have had terrible experiences. I haven't had anything really bad happen. Walking down the streets of Manhatten to get to NYCC in costume is always an interesting experience. I get the cat calling when I am in costume, but most of the time I ignore it. Nothing has ever been so rude that I had to turn around to take notice. When I am at conventions people are usually very respectful if I say I can't take a photo or anything. Some look more disappointed than others, but again nothing bad has ever come of it.
Do you have any new plans or ideas you are working on for your next costume or character?
As I stated previously I have many other characters lol. I want to do Tracer from Overwatch, Teela MOTU, Cheetara from Thundercats, Juri, Ibuki, Poison, Cammy, Vixen from DC, the list goes on and on. I hope to be able to do them all at some point. Cosplay isn't going anywhere anytime soon so I am optimistic lol. Even if it does, who cares, I am still going to cosplay my heart out!
What skills have you learned or want to learn in regards to costume making and planning?
My sewing has actually improved dramatically since I got into cosplay. I can make adjustments on my costumes no problem, although construction without a pattern to follow is still very intimidating to me. I have only tackled very simple things. I leave the more complex costumes to someone far more talented than I. I would like to, at some point, be able to make my own and not have to commission my costumes.
Any events you will be attending this summer?
No major events planned, at least convention wise. I am attending a midnight showing of the Suicide Squad as Knightfall Catwoman. Other than that I would like to do more photo shoots. I have several photographers that want to connect to do some work with me. It would be nice to have more content for my pages. It's hard for me to find the time with my work schedule.