Jia-Li Cosplay interview

Who are you?
My name is Jia-Li of Jia-Li Cosplay

Photo of Jia-Li Cosplay as Rose Tico from The Last Jedi. Photo by So Say We All
Jia-Li Cosplay as Rose Tico from The Last Jedi. Photo by So Say We All

What was your first cosplay?
Mikasa Ackerman from Shingeki no Kyojin / Attack on Titan.

How did you get into cosplay, and how long have you been doing it?
I first cosplayed for London MCM in May 2014. Since then I’ve had a few ups and downs, quit a couple of times along the way but I always inevitably fell back in love with cosplay.

Favourite cosplay you’ve done so far?
The cheer uniform version of Ochaco Uraraka, or the uniform version of Camie Utsushimi both from Boku no Hero Academia / My Hero Academia. I made the cheer uniform and uniform jacket completely from scratch and both were interesting challenges in different ways. But the reason I love them is because they were both a lot of fun to work on, and I made a lot of great memories with friends wearing the, as both were co-ordinating with friends.

Any advice for beginner cosplayers, or people wanting to get into cosplaying?
Try new things. Practice makes perfect. Don’t be discouraged by mistakes or what more experienced cosplayers are doing – everyone starts somewhere!

How do you go about choosing which cosplays to make and wear?
Most of the time, my choices in cosplay are inspired by characters whose design I really like, or whose personality I really identify with. I cosplay using a mix of bought cosplays, adjusting bought pieces and things made entirely from scratch.
I’m doing a lot more of the latter right now, but because these things take a lot of time, I’m really selective in the projects that I take on. For example, I usually only decide to make something when I’m really excited and dedicated to a character, or if there are interesting challenging elements that I want to try my hand at.
Skill level is also an important factor. I’m always learning new things, but I don’t take on things that I don’t think I have the skills to achieve it to the level that I would be happy with.

Are there any projects you’re working on that you want to share with us?
I’m currently working on a cosplay of Sailor Neptune based on the beautiful fanart by Carol Azevedo.

In 2018 you were a part of The 86th Floor’s Star Wars High: Battle of the Bands video. How did you get involved in that?
I met one of the cast, who was a friend of a friend, while wearing my Rose Tico cosplay at CosXpo. He then invited me to be part of ‘a Star Wars CMV’. I had no idea what I was in for before I was thrown headfirst into the project!

What was it like making the video?
It was incredibly exciting as it was the first time I’ve been involved with video work outside of a convention. I had never met most of the cast and crew before I showed up on set but we all got to know each other online during the preparation work which was over the course of a few months.
The day itself was a lot of fun, albeit quite tiring as you have to keep your energy up and filming was over the course of an entire day – but it was all worth it and we are all proud of what we created together as a group.

Photo of Jia-Li Cosplay as Rose Tico from The Last Jedi. Photo by So Say We All
Jia-Li Cosplay as Rose Tico from The Last Jedi. Photo by So Say We All

Relatedly, you’ve also cosplayed as Rose from The Last Jedi. How did you go about making that cosplay?
It involved studying a lot of grainy stills from the internet, and hunting through books to find references. Because I cosplayed her just a few months after the release of the film, sources were not as readily available.
I ended up buying a boiler suit, which I picked apart and used as the basis for a pattern. Two of the greatest challenges were finding the right fabric (and if I had my time again, I would have continued the search and perhaps found something with a little more weight) and also adjusting the pattern to incorporate all the double-lapped seams which was a new technique for me.
The stun-gun prop was improvised from a cork sanding block cut down and covered in double-sided foam pads usually used in card making, screws, googly eyes and worbla, covered with several layers of weathered paint.

I know the Rose character recieved some negative attention after the release of The Last Jedi. How was the cosplay receieved? Were there any comments from those who didn’t like the character?
I think it’s fair to say that The Last Jedi is not a perfect film. However, the negativity that was channelled into personal attacks at the actor and creative team was extremely disappointing, to say the least.
Directly I’ve only ever had kind and supportive comments including people who told me how much they also loved the character. I think the saddest thing I ever saw someone posting about my cosplay was questioning why anyone would want to cosplay Rose as they considered her the ‘Jar Jar’ of The Last Jedi.

You were also in Kawin Wu’s AnimeCon Boku no Hero Cosplay Music Video in 2018. How did that come about?
I first met Kawin a few years ago when I last went to AnimeCon in the Netherlands. When I returned in 2018 I was invited to join in the fun as there were a lot of Boku no Hero cosplayers there! I actually feature in the video twice as it was filmed over the course of the weekend, and I cosplayed two characters on two different days!

Would you consider appearing in other cosplay music videos in the future?
I would love to!

In January 2019 you did a levitation photoshoot. How did you go about taking the photos, and making you look like you were levitating?
So Say We All (the photographer) and I have known each other for a few years and we have discussed experimenting with levitation for some time, but only finally got round to trying it when I bought a new green dress which we really liked. From there we came up with colour concepts and wove in the idea of having red balloons.
On the day, the levitation shots involved taking photos with me balancing slightly precariously on a stool while holding a bunch of balloons to create the illusion. Then, a photo is taken without the subject or stool. Afterwards, So Say We All worked his post-production magic to essentially erase the stool from the photo to make it look as though I’m floating.

If someone wanted to do a cosplay collaboration with you, what would be the best way for them to reach out?
Any of my social media channels are fine to contact me on! Usually for people I don’t know, it would have to be for a character I already cosplay or at least from a fandom that I am already interested in.
Friends are more able to drag me into something I had no previous interest or knowledge of.

Any group cosplays you’d want to do (eg Mystery Inc, Sailor Scouts, Avengers, X-Men, etc)?
I love doing cosplay groups with my friends and I’m hoping to do groups for Shokugeki no Soma / Food Wars and Kakegurui this year.

Which cosplayer would you love to work with?
Honestly, there are lot of friends I’ve made in the community that I’ve never had the chance to cosplay with before for a number of reasons – the main one being that perhaps we have not been interested in cosplaying the same thing at the same time! But I’m hoping to collaborate with more people this year!

Where can we find you online (social media etc)?
Twitter: @jialicosplay
Instagram: @jialicosplay
Facebook: Jia-Li Cosplay