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Lisa Lake (Atlanta, GA)

Photo: shotbyryandee

I am an African American cosplayer and there is very little African American representation in certain genres, so I love to take well known characters and add my own cultural influence. It means a lot to me to have opportunities to show that cosplay can be inclusive and have diversity and that you can be creative and bring your own representation to any character. Snow White even by her name is historically the “fairest of them all” quite literally. Her name is even coined from having skin as white as snow. I thought this would be the perfect character to bring some color and minority representation to.

The biggest challenge was creating her dress utilizing African fabrics and designs in a way that the character would still be recognizable but I could still pay homage to African culture. I tried several different skirt designs before finally going with a design that could tie in the same colors as the original Snow White costume but add some flair to it. It wasn’t hard to add the accessories once I figured out the skirt and dress design

The best experience was being stopped by children and adults off all different colors, seeing the smiles when they saw my colorful dress, asking for pictures, wanting hugs, and being told that they loved my cosplay dress. It was so rewarding to have such a warm reception and to genuinely have my work appreciated.  

I am a co-founder of a disability nonprofit organization called Telic Empowerment and the best part is helping bring respect, inclusion and acceptance of people with disabilities to my community. It is very similar to how I feel about cosplay in that I am passionate about helping change the culture of how people see others that are different. In cosplay, I’m trying to also expose people to seeing characters in all different shades and I’m advocating for people to respect, accept and appreciate the creativity a cosplayer of color has when they decide to cosplay a character that

[Cosplay] means creativity, diversity, and inclusion for all. Cosplay means anyone can participate and be free to create whatever you want. Cosplay is a positive outlet that allows people from all walks of life to come together. Cosplay is community.

The worst part of being a cosplayer is seeing the tremendous amount of hate, disrespect, and outright abuse that cosplayers of color have to endure when they choose to cosplay a character that is not of color. I have even experienced this type of racism. This is why I continue to make efforts to showcase representation in all characters I portray.

Snow White from the Motherland / Cosplayer : lakelilovecosplay . photo: shotbyryandee

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