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CCM Interview with AMHCosplays: An Inspiring Journey

Updated: May 2


Prepare to be captivated by the enchanting world of cosplay as we embark on a thrilling CCM interview with AMHCosplays! This cosplay sensation, who graced the cover of our Mid Season issue at Creative Cosplays Magazine, is here to share her incredible journey. From her first cosplay as a Star Trek crew member to founding the inspiring Cosplay Over 40 community, AMHCosplays has donned over 184 personas and is unstoppable.


Join us as we dive into her cosplay adventures, her mission to celebrate older cosplayers, and the boundless creativity that defies age. It's a celebration of passion, perseverance, and limitless fun!


AMHCOSPLAYS

 

Q. Welcome, Ana! It's a pleasure to have you with us. To kick things off, could you introduce yourself to our readers and share what initially sparked your interest in cosplay? What was your very first cosplay experience like?


Absolutely! I’m AMHCosplays, also known as A2MIWonderWoman (Ann Arbor Wonder Woman) and BulmaBriefsUSA. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have accounts for my other main fandoms (She-Hulk, Star Trek, and Harry Potter) or I’d never leave my laptop! I’m a Halloween baby and have been around costuming all my life. I’ve also been a lifelong Star Trek fan — I grew up watching reruns of the original series and the animated Saturday morning show. One of my best friends was also a Star Trek nerd. When we heard that there was going to be a Star Trek event in New York City, we headed to a local department store, bought a blue T-shirt and a gold T-shirt, used black markers to color in the neckline, matched these with black pants and boom! Instant cosplay! We used all our money on the shirts and bus fare to NYC, so we just ghosted the event. But it was still my first cosplay and first con experience and I was hooked! I ended up taking a few years off after grad school for work/marriage/kids/divorce/marriage. When I started up again in 2002, I chose my favorite anime character, Ranma Saotome, as my first cosplay. I still cosplay Ranma — both boy and girl types — today.

Q. You've mentioned having an impressive collection of 184 active cosplays, with even more in planning or progress. Could you tell us about one or two cosplays that hold a special place in your heart and the unique challenges or joys they brought you?


I’d been competing in Performance for a few years, but my Craftsmanship skills were a big fat zero because I didn’t know how to sew. At the 2018 Dokidokon, I attended a Sewing 101 panel taught by the awesome Kira_Elric, who patiently answered my gazillion questions and kindly coached me as I began my sewing journey. The first cosplay I fully made from scratch was Salem from RWBY. It was also my first time using bias tape, appliqué, and satin stitching and modifying a pattern. It took me three weeks just to make the cloak. I’m still very proud of how my Salem came out. Cosplaying her, I met Aaron Dismuke and Shannon McCormick (who voice different incarnations of Salem’s arch enemy, Ozma/Ozpin/Oscar) and we had fun taking photos of me choking them both out. She is still one of my favorite cosplays and I’ll actually be wearing her to an upcoming shoot.


Another cosplay dear to my heart is my Mara Jade, which I also made from scratch (except for the goggles, lightsaber, and blaster!). I’m a huge Star Wars fan — nope, not going to get started talking Star Wars — and I figured it was about time I had a Star Wars cosplay. Mara is my favorite female Star Wars character. I used the cover image of her on the Sacrifice novel as well as several images of Shannon McRandle, the model Lucasfilm selected to portray/embody Mara for Star Wars books, cards, and collectibles, as the basis for my Mara cosplay. I am thrilled with how she came out… and I was even more thrilled to actually meet Shannon McRandle this summer. She’s an absolute gem and we did a bunch of Mara photos together.

Q. Cosplay often involves mastering various crafting skills. How has your journey in cosplay, from learning to sew to working with foam and resin, shaped your creative abilities and personal growth?


Even though I’ve been sewing for five years now, I still very much consider myself a novice. I always try to learn something new each time I create a cosplay. I’m currently working on Slave Leia, and I embroidered her skirt panels with gold thread. It was my first time embroidering anything and I practiced on scraps before taking it to the actual cosplay. My next challenge will be sewing my very poofy multilayered petticoat for a Pokémon cosplay, followed by making actual pants and a real buttoned shirt for yet another anime cosplay. I also did my first resin casts for Slave Leia. I kept putting this off, certain I’d screw it up. Finally I just went for it and I’m thrilled with the results. Foam is still my eeeeeek! area. I’m comfortable using foam clay — which I also did for Slave Leia — but full-body armor? I’m sure I can do it. It’s just a mindblock I need to get past. I was the same way using Worbla but now I happily make it into masks, jewelry, headpieces, and more (see: Slave Leia 😄). Of course, now any time someone in my family needs something repaired, they come to me. Even for automotive Plastidipping.

Q. Your dedication to cosplaying Boy-Type Ranma Saotome is remarkable. What is it about this character that continues to resonate with you, and how has your portrayal evolved over the years?


Ranma resonates with me on so many levels. He’s a martial artist, as am I (sadly I had to close my studio during the early pandemic). His outgoing, devil-may-care attitude is very much like mine, as is his loyalty to friends and family and his devotion to his art. Ranma also appealed to me deep down because of the gender fluidity that his curse created. As a kid and young teen, I frequently felt that I should have been a boy. As an adult, I’m finally comfortable with who I am, but the ability to change genders like Ranma can still holds appeal to my inner child. My portrayal of Ranma has definitely evolved over the years. I keep upgrading Boy-Type Ranma’s wig, for instance. I added Gurl-Type Ranma about five years ago, and I have three versions of her that I’m currently working on. I also used to write loads of Ranma fanfiction under the name SaotomeRanchan; a few stories are still out there. This past spring, I entered a fanfic-writing contest with a brand-new Ranma story… and I won! So I might write more in the future. I also have Ranma tattooed on my right shoulder in kanji, and my son’s legal middle name is Ranma. So yes, you can say I’m a Ranma devotee!


Q. With a love for thrifting or buying cosplays in addition to making them. Are there any memorable finds or purchases that turned into unexpected gems for your cosplay collection?


I love when I find pieces I didn’t even consider that end up becoming integral parts of my cosplays. I was on vacation in Las Vegas and went to the Fabulous Las Vegas gift shop to buy some souvenirs for my family. There I found a fake beer stein — the kind that looks like it has real beer in it — and that has become a signature part of my Mrs. Briefs cosplay: she Carrie’s it around on a serving tray to bring to Dr. Briefs. I also love when finds can be used for more than one cosplay. The short black boots I use for Salem are also used for Mara Jade, Wonder Woman 600, Catwoman, Eve from Grimm, Kaneki, my Jen Bartel Wonder Woman, and Pirate Wonder Woman. The corset I used for Black Canary found use in my Victorian Bunny Bulma, Team Rocket Jessie, Animated Harley Quinn, and Future Mai. One cosplay I’m particularly proud of is my Dragon Ball Z Future Bulma. The entire cosplay — hat, coveralls, buttoned shirt, pullover shirt, belt, gloves, and patches — was thrifted from resale stores or purchased from Amazon over the course of three years.

AMHCOSPLAYS

Q. Balancing a large number of cosplays and planning new ones must be quite the task. How do you decide which characters to bring to life next, and what fuels your creative inspiration?


There are characters from shows I grew up with (for example Caroline Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie, Shirley Partridge, Jane Jetson, Endora from Bewitched, Princess from Battle of the Planets, Sorceress from He-Man) that I want to pay tribute to via cosplay as my way of thanking them for being a part of my life. There are characters from my favorite fandoms (for instance Seven of Nine and Vina from Star Trek, Kaine from Nier: Replicant, the Wizards Chess Queen from Harry Potter) that I want to cosplay in tribute to my favorite fandoms. There are different versions of favorite characters — Wonder Wonan, She-Hulk, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Bulma Briefs, Ranma — that I want to cosplay to expand my repertoire for that character. Everything is organized and color coded in a spreadsheet. And then something else catches my eye or an idea pops into my head completely unexpectedly, and I find myself off plan and buying fabric for Christmas Salem, searching the Halloween store for the right hat for Witch Batgirl, or searching Amazon for jewelry matching the latest cover of She-Hulk.

Q. Your initiative, Cosplay Over 40, celebrates and supports older cosplayers. What motivated you to create this community, and what impact has it had on you and fellow cosplayers who felt overlooked?


My husband Jae and I noticed a disturbing trend at cons: older cosplayers being ignored — practically shunned — by cosplay photographers and my other cosplayers at fandom meet-ups. Jae actually approached another photographer at a 2019 con to ask about this and the photographer replied, “I only shoot young, pretty girls.” That was the last straw for me. I went online and searched for sites that specifically feature older cosplayers; I found a couple of Facebook chat groups but nothing dedicated to showcasing the cosplaying talents of this specific age group. A few days later, on June 28, 2019, Cosplay Over 40 made its debut. Since then, not a week has gone by without hearing from a 40+ cosplayer about how happy they are to have found us, how grateful they are for what we do for older cosplayers, and how excited they are to have made connections and new friends through us. There are also those who share their experiences: the cosplayer who submitted his photos to countless share sites and was repeatedly rejected until he found us; the cosplayer who went to a con with a group, only to have a photographer take photos of his younger companions, then lower the camera and walk away without photographing him; the cosplayer who worked for weeks to create a princess cosplay only to be told she was too old to portray that character. So many stories, and each of them underscoring why Cosplay Over 40 is needed in the greater cosplay community.



Q. With over 700 cosplayers from six continents showcased on Cosplay Over 40's sites, it's clear your community has grown rapidly. Can you share some heartwarming or inspiring stories of connections made within the community?


There have been countless times that I’ve been to a con, either as a guest or just myself, only to have a cosplayer come up to me all excited and smiling and tell me that they follow Cosplay Over 40. It’s lovely to meet followers… we currently have more than 7,000 across social media. I always encourage them to submit their photo to be featured. Sometimes that in-person encouragement is exactly what was needed to take that next step. As for those who have been featured, many return for subsequent features. We also do special projects, like our recent Star Trek and Batman Day photo montages. For Halloween we are doing a @31 Days of Halloween” for everyone to participate in, regardless of age. We released this 31-day countdown in early September and the feedback has been tremendous. It even inspired other sites to do the same! We’ve also done video projects, like Pass the Cassette, Pass the 45, Pass the Holiday Gift, and our Trick or Treat project to provide fun cosplay activities that not only help build community but are also fun. I’ve gotten to know many of our 40+ family over the years — I’m starting to recognize them by sight in their photos — and I’m proud to call many of them friends. I would love to fly out and meet the gang in Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, California, Seattle, London, Yorkshire, Germany, Belfast, Australia, and Brazil… so many places where 40+ cosplayers have invited us to join them for cons and photo shoots and events!

Q. We hear you may have some special projects in store for the future. Could you provide our readers with a sneak peek into what they can expect from Cosplay Over 40 in the near future?


Sure! My husband Jae has painstakingly built a podcast studio as part of his photography studio, and we hope to start a weekly (okay, perhaps monthly at first) Cosplay Over 40 podcast, interviewing cosplayers we’ve featured as well as cosplay photographers and others in the community. In real life, I’ve worked in magazine journalism since grad school (my Master’s is in magazine journalism) and I’ve been drafting ideas for a Cosplay Over 40 magazine that will hopefully make its debut soon. We’ve started researching a special 40+ Cosplay in the Caribbean yearly event, where small groups of cosplayers join us in the islands for photo shoots, sightseeing, and relaxing fun in the sun. We also started tossing around ideas for our own small, cozy 40+ con. We’ll see if that evolves into anything. And, of course, we hope to make it to more cons to meet more of the Cosplay Over 40 family in person!

Q. The hashtag for Cosplay Over 40 declares 'age is just a number.' How do you feel this mindset can empower older individuals to embrace their passions, like cosplay, with confidence?


Yes!!! We are all much more than the sum of our birthdays and should never allow age to be a restricting parameter. My mom started skiing in her 60s. I wouldn’t dare tell her she’s too old to ski. I know many people to started training in Tae Kwon Do, competing in triathlons, began body building all past the age of 40. Whether it’s a sport, a creative hobby like cosplay, a musical instrument, yoga, you name it, age means nothing if you have the curiosity, drive, determination, or love for your activity of choice.


AMHCOSPLAYS

Q. For individuals who may hesitate to start cosplaying or pursue their creative interests later in life, what advice would you give them based on your own experiences and the supportive community you've built?


Trying something new can be daunting, especially if it’s an activity done publicly like cosplay. What’s important to bear in mind is that your biggest opposition will come from within. That inner voice, the one expressing your doubts, increasing your anxiety, and making you feel unwelcome, is your true adversary. Once you realize that the main obstacle to your pursuit of cosplay, writing, ceramics, painting, you name it, is you, you can more easily overcome those apprehensions. Take charge, remember that you started this activity because you love and enjoy it, take a deep breath, then go for it! Have fun. Attend a con or a local photo shoot. Meet like-minded people and make new friends. Locate your local or online community and join it! You’ll find you have a new family that supports and encourages your creativity.

Q. Looking ahead, where do you see the cosplay community heading in the next few years, and how do you envision the role of older cosplayers evolving within it?


I personally see cosplay coming out of its niche and becoming more mainstream, more accepted by the general public. Back when I started, we were called nerds and geeks. Then comic cons and anime cons began to blossom world wide and more people discovered the fun of dressing up as a favorite character … outside of Halloween! Just a few years ago, cosplayers were misunderstood. We were adults who refused to grow up and act our age, we were people who never outgrew dressing up. Now there are college courses on cosplay, there are celebrities who cosplay, families that cosplay together, and there is even an anime about cosplaying. Instead of being a pop sub-culture, cosplay is coming into its own… and all these newcomers will need mentors, role models, experienced cosplayers to inspire, support, encourage, and welcome them. And that’s where I see older cosplayers in the very near future.


Q. Finally, Ana, what message or words of encouragement would you like to share with our readers, especially those who are discovering the magic of cosplay or considering exploring it further?


Go for it! If you are curious about cosplay, the best way to learn about it is to experience it first hand. Think about movies you enjoy the most, your favorite comic book or anime, what TV shows you watch regularly. From these, pick a favorite character, one you love — or love to hate — because cosplay is much easier and more fun when you feel a connection with a character. Once you’ve selected someone, you can check your closet to see if you have components for that cosplay. You can visit thrift stores, you can search Amazon, you can make it from scratch, you can buy it from an online cosplay store… whatever works best for you.


And then what? That’s totally up to you. You don’t have to attend cons, although this is a fabulous way to see other cosplays first hand and meet other cosplayers. You can search social media for cosplay groups in your area. Some meet up regularly for photo shoots. Some meet up to volunteer at charity events. You can contact your local chamber of commerce, your local library, your local hospital, your local family shelter to ask about opportunities to bring smiles to those in need. You can take photos of your cosplay — as selfies, using a timer, or with a personal ring light and tripod — and create a social-media cosplay account for your photographs. And you can join a cosplay community such as Cosplay Over 40, or the League of Superheroines (for those who cosplay comic-book-genre superheroines and/or villains), or Hogsmeade Weekenders (for Harry Potter fans), or or or. There are groups waiting to welcome you. All you need to do is take that first step.

Q. Ana, it's been an absolute pleasure delving into your cosplay journey and the inspiring world of Cosplay Over 40. We're truly grateful for your time today. Before we say goodbye, could you please let our readers know where they can follow your incredible cosplay adventures online, and if you have any final words or messages you'd like to share?

My main “home” is on Instagram as @amhcosplays; I reflect my content onto Facebook, Twitter/X, and Threads. I have a YouTube channel but I’m dreadfully behind in posting content there. I’m also @a2miwonderwoman on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter/X, and Threads, and @bulmabriefsusa across the same social media. You can also definitely find me at @cosplayover40 on Instagram (content reflected onto Facebook, Twitter/X, and Threads). I’ve been told repeatedly I need to start my web site, which I will, soon, really! As for final words, just remember to have fun with cosplay. The word “cosplay” has “play” in it for a reason! Cosplay should be enjoyable, a mini escape from the humdrum everyday world, a chance to be somebody else for just a few hours, the opportunity to have fun with others who share your love for a character or fandom, your opportunity to exercise your creative abilities and learn new skills. Age, gender, race, size, ethnicity, none of these or other factors should prevent you from giving cosplay a try. And I certainly hope those reading this will!








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