Opening night; I was fourteen years old. We all stood frozen in tableau, waiting, then the curtains opened. The rest was muscle memory.
The first musical I did was Cinderella. We did the Brandy version. My teachers approached me saying “We know you’ve been singing for a while; would you be interested in auditioning for Cinderella?”
The moment I stepped on stage I was like “This is great. I need to do this.”
I fell in love with the way we did things, the staging, the blocking, the rehearsals, the costumes. My introduction to all this was learning how to get out of a full corset gown in less than five minutes! Cinderella will always have a special place in my heart, but I’m still waiting for that one role that’s made for me, you know.
Theatre started out as a hobby, but now I’m trying to pursue it as a career. Now that theatre is my career path, I had to find other hobbies. That’s how I got into cosplay.
I’ve been going to FanExpo since 2014. It’s a wide and diverse range of people coming together to enjoy what they enjoy. I like the ambiance and I like the community. And I like being able to see so much art!
I didn’t dress up the first time, but since I’ve gone as a Slytherin student, and as Hipster Moana —she held a sign that said “My ancestors were Voyagers BEFORE it was cool.” In 2019 I did my most ambitious cosplay yet: Katara’s Painted Lady from Avatar the Last Airbender.
I consider that one my first “official” cosplay because it was the first one I put so much effort into. I made the whole thing by hand —it probably took me around 30 hours. I didn’t know how to sew before that. As much as I love theatre, I could never go into costume making as a career. I have found every avenue possible to avoid sewing. I’m definitely an actor at heart.
Outside of cosplay, I’m currently working as a character performer, which is basically getting paid to cosplay. Being a character performer means I get to become a character to make people happy. I love my job.
I especially love the looks little girls will give me. I was dressed as Moana at a fair recently —except we call her the Wayfinder Princess for copyright reasons— and the way all these little girls would look up at me! They recognize me. I didn’t have characters of colour to look up to growing up aside from Mulan and Jasmine.
Everything they believe in is magic to them. I’m literally making magic for these children. I made a difference just by being there.
I’m really proud of where I am now. In 2020 I really shut down. It was like my whole system rebooted into a new person. Now I’m in college, pursuing my dream career, because I picked myself up. My mental health journey has been very important to me.
All my classes are virtual this semester. It’s strange. Before I start my dance class, I have to warn my roommate. I have to move the kitchen table, set up the tripod. I’m definitely excited to be in person next semester. I’m going to step onto more stages as the opening day curtains draw, I’m going to craft whole ball gown cosplays,
I’m going inspire so many little girls as a character performer, and one day hopefully as an actor, and I can’t wait to learn how to dance in a real classroom instead of my dorm!
--Amelia Reanne, Performer, Performance Arts Preparation Program
(Interviewed and written by Eugénie Szwalek; photos by Nolan Brinson)