Today we have a great feature with Jessica Y Sarabia. She is a cosplayer and an author who has been cosplaying for about six years. Read her full interview below!
How and when did you get into cosplay?
I like to believe that if you love holidays like Halloween you have been cosplaying without exploring the rabbit hole a bit further. I was one of these types of individuals, I would plan and fabricate my costumes a year in advance, just so I could dress up as a character I enjoyed. I had lots of costumes and unfortunately I had an incident where an ex friend/ roommate burned all my costumes. Once I was out of that situation I was crushed really because there was no provocation for that type of action, so I stopped for a bit. It wasn’t till I was reconnected with my late fiancé the artist Jon Parrish aka J.G Parrish; that he actually encouraged me to get back in. At the time the show “, Heroes of cosplay,” was starting its first season, so I was surprised beyond my favorite holiday that people would wear costumes to these types of events. Call it a culture shock if you will, but it started my fire and passion for the craft.
How did you come up with your cosplay name?
Ok… This is going to sound weird, but I am very animal like. When I’m out with my friends or even if was out with my late fiancé Jon, you can tell if I’m hungry because I will actually, “mau,” in public. I growl when I disapprove of things, or refuse by standing in place much like a dog. Sometimes People including Jon who came up with my stage name have said that it was easier for me to wear my necomimi ears, so they would know for certain how I was feeling. Jon actually trained search and rescue dogs, he at one point owned an akita named Rawl, and said I acted so much like an akita that we decide that Jess- Akita should have been my name. It being the combo of me being preferred to be called Jess and Akita because that is how my personality is.
What do you do when you're not in cosplay or geeking out?
I work, do I have two day jobs and I currently am in law school. the up side of one of my jobs is while at work I have long periods of time to myself. So I tote my cosplays with me or my computer and work on my art prints, writings, and even my school work to do in those free moments between customers. My second job I do community outreach for disabled individuals, so I go with my clients to the movies, the gym, or anywhere they would like to go really to be their support while in the community. Right now my only client is my brother and it’s a lot of fun. I get to take him swimming, to the movies, car shows, and I enjoy that time with him. Besides the jobs I mentor one person in cosplay but in life, I spend time with friends, working in my studio on my costumes or doing errands. I love my digital streaming like Netflix’s, Crunchy roll, Hula, and I have Amazon prime.
How do you choose your next cosplay?
I am a big scheduler in my life, so I plan all my costumes a year in advance. When choosing a character I have to feel a personal attachment to that character. So for example my Phylocke cosplay I was always called “My Phylocke,” by Jon. I think if I have watched or read something and cried for a character then that’s the character I go for. That type of deep emotion reverberates with me and that’s the type of character I choose. I tend to do original designs for the characters, so if I have an emotional attachment to that character it helps with the process. I like to design as if the character was a client of mine coming in and asking what would I design for them, so the more attachment to a character the better I think because it pushes me to create something different and out of the box without taking away the elements of what makes that character who they are.
Who is your cosplay idol/inspiration?
I’ve been very fortunate to have many mentors the community and they have pushed me to be a better cosplayer and to overall love myself. In craftsmanship I would say Yaya Han, Holly Conrad, Jessica Merizan, Carl Martin, and Ivy Doomkitty. These individuals do impeccable work and I want to challenge myself always to be on that level. In guts and dedication I would say Cara Nicole aka AZ power girl, Roseanna Rocha, Miss Pirate Savvy, Penny Lane, many of these ladies have been mentors. I’ve been very fortunate to get to know Cara Nicole and Roseanna Rocha over the years, and because of them I have grown as a cosplayer in showmanship because of the competitive side of it. In spirit and friendship, my friend Cree Nicole and Sam Sawyer, these ladies help me to be a social butterfly in the community and because of it I am stronger than my own insecurities.
What cosplay(s) are you working on right now?
Well because of my own design process I tend to keep who I am doing under wraps till the big reveal, this is typically at a con. I can say I am currently rebuilding my Ikaros from heavens lost property, I was not happy with how it turned out so I can admit I want to take a second crack at it. I also have a Cake cosplay I am working on since my Friend Cree Nicole has such an amazing Fiona. But yeah, Cree is my partner in crime for cosplay so really in the future I see more collaborative cosplays.
What is your dream cosplay?
Personally that is a hard question, I think the epic cosplay I want to do will have to be a group effort but in a year or two just in fabrication and planning, I would like to do a whole stage performance involving ”The Maxx,” and its characters. This will take some time to complete and something I can’t do alone, so it will need friends and lots of different techniques to accomplish, I haven’t gotten to the logistics of all of it yet because there is so many factors, when my Jon passed we were barely scrapping the surface of what would be need to pull this off. So it’s my dream to pull it off and finish what we started, I just need some time to really sit and get the kinks worked out.
What is a random fun fact about you as a cosplayer or one of your cosplays?
Most of my die hard supporters know it’s me in cosplay because of my voice. Apparently it is the only way to be certain it’s me or look for my father is this 75 year old Asian man he’s typically my handler. The other random fun fact fun fact I put pockets in all my cosplays.
Do you have any cosplay or convention pet peeves?
When someone wears extremely strong perfume or cologne.
Do you have any horror stories or mistakes you've made that others can learn from?
Stay hydrated, have medications you may need like Tylenol, and carries a snack with you or your handler. It’s ok to have an entourage meaning friends or family that is going to watch out for you during the convention. And have a means to keep in contact beyond cell phones, like hand signals and schedule to help you all regroup. Use the restroom before putting on your costume, and plan an exit strategy if it gets too much for you to handle. Remember cosplay is fun first, so take care of you so you can have fun.
Where can we find you on all things social?
Photos for this interview provided by the interviewee.
What a great interview with plenty to read. She's so passionate! Make sure you go follow her on social media and show her some love and support!
Link your favorite cosplayer in the comments below.