For my first article, I thought I would talk about something that I am asked on a regular bases. How did I get into Cosplay?
Before I begin, I suppose I better briefly introduce myself. My name is Candy Valentina, and I am a professional cosplayer, performer and model based in Kent. This is all I do for a living. *GASP* I know right?
(Photo Credits to: Mike White Photography, Justine-Louise Photography & The PinUp Academy)
Anyhoo, going back to the topic at hand…How did I get into cosplay?
This is a very good question! Let’s begin by rewinding back to the 90’s…1996 to be exact. This was the year my Dad bought the very first Playstation. With this Playstation, came a whole new world of adventures! Tekken, Crash Bandicoot, Porsche Challenge, Gran Turismo. Amongst these titles, (to name but a few) was something golden. A heroine. An idol. Somebody that I would look up to for years to come. Yes that’s right, I am talking about the one, the only, Lara Croft!
After discovering the game Tomb Raider, every year I would wait patiently anticipating the new release, and every Christmas receiving it. Lara was the only thing that was ever on my Christmas list. Ask Papa Valentina if you ever spot him! It’s the truth! Well that and a Barbie carriage, give or take! (Complexed I know)
Lara was the beginning for me. Every opportunity I got, I would dress as her! Fancy dress, world book day, etc. You name it, I was Lara! My collection grew, and so did my love for her.
Me as Lara in ’98 Some of my Lara collection
As I grew older, I began to share less and less with people about my affixation with Lara. Although my passion for Lara, films and the Playstation never died, it is something that I kept a distance from everyone.
Fast forward a couple more years, I attend stage school and train as a professional performer. (No one was expecting that right?) Once I graduate, I realise that my lack of height effected what jobs I could audition for. So much so, that I had to re-think what I can do to still perform for a living.
(Graduation Day )
I decided to learn some other performance skills such as fire, etc and start to create my own rentable shows for events. Whilst working on this process my friend Nandi said to me did I know that was missing out on this whole cosplay world? I said what is that? Then she showed me…OH MY!!! I have never instantly felt like I belonged somewhere until that moment. LIKE WOW! Seeing all the amazing cosplays and fandoms coming together at these events, that was it. I was hooked! I wanted to dive straight into getting involved with the cosplay scene in the UK, and that’s exactly what I did.
Come May 2014 I attended MCM London, for one day. I attended in a Yoko Littner costume I had created from masking tape, cardboard, electrical and car vinyl amongst other things. I felt amazing, and had such an awesome day. It instantly gave me the bug for cosplay, and I knew that this is where my heart belonged.
Not long after this, I modeled a Poison Ivy inspired latex outfit created by Kaoris Latex Dreams for Justine-Louise Photography. That was it. It got shared, and liked an incredible amount of times. More than anything on my Facebook page, or Instagram had seen up until that point. I had so much fun channeling Ivy during this shoot, and it seemed the internet approved also.
Fast forward some more. A year and a bit on from this moment to be precise, and I am where I am today. 15+ costumes and concepts in, and still going!
It’s something that I have been lucky enough to start branching out fully into. 2016 has been the year of starting to cosplay guest for me. This has been extremely exciting to say the least! I sell prints in both my online shop, and whilst guesting at conventions. I also created my own cosplay calendar for this year, as well as started work on my 2017 cosplay calendar already! When you enjoy something, I feel like the world can see and wants to enjoy it with you! I feel so blessed to be able to of turned my passions into my career. Even though it is tough and it requires a lot of hustle, I wouldn’t have it any other way!
I guess the only question that remains is have I cosplayed Lara yet?
No is the answer unfortunately. Lara will forever have a special place in my heart, and until some point that I find the perfect long brown wig, that is where she will have to stay unfortunately!
Here’s to Lara, my Dad and my good friend Nandi for showing me the geeky ways!
Until next time,
Please check out my website & shop