January 2015 Cosplay Showcase: Gurl With Red Hair

The up-and-coming California cosplayer discusses why she's so passionate about cosplay, and tells the story of the Korrasami cosplay pictures that created a social dialogue on the internet.

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Welcome to another installment of a new cosplay showcase series here at SheAttack! As much as we love video games and the gaming community, we also strive to bring more general nerd culture articles to our site to spice things up. And what better way to celebrate nerd culture than with showcasing the ultimate fan homage: cosplay? Once a month, I will be posting a Q&A and costume showcase of a talented cosplayer in the community. They could be a novice or pro; as long as they are passionate and creative they have every chance of being featured.

Ringing in the new year for the series, is a relatively new cosplayer on the rise, Gurl With Red Hair!

January 2015 Cosplay Showcase: Gurl With Red Hair

Gurl With Red Hair as Ruby from Rooster Teeth's RWBY series at Anime Los Angeles. Photo by Joits Photography.
Gurl With Red Hair as Ruby from Rooster Teeth’s RWBY series at Anime Los Angeles. Photo by Joits Photography.

Q: Tell me about your background.

A: Although I grew up with video games, anime here and there, and an interest in comics, I didn’t heavily get involved until 2011. Now it’s every aspect of my life, and it’d be weird without it!

Q: How were you like growing up?

A: Very introverted. I was a total dork (still am), and definitely did not fit in…

Q: How did you first get into cosplay?

A: I think it really started when I got into comic books at 17, while I was reading up on characters and looking at fan art I would run into cosplay pictures. I ended up going to SDCC in 2012 and cosplayed for the first time at a convention. Although that’s technically the first time I cosplayed, I don’t feel like it truly started until 2013. I was severely obsessed with Resident Evil and chose to cosplay Claire Redfield. I mark that as the “true” start because that’s when I started to make friends in the cosplay community and started to place importance on making things on my own/seeking accuracy.

Q: What was your first cosplay, and what do you wish you could change about it now?

A: X-23. Honestly I wouldn’t change anything; it’s nice to look back on. I didn’t make anything on the costume besides a little choker, and now I can make a costume entirely from scratch.

Gurl With Red Hair cosplaying X-23 from the X-Men series. Photo by David Ngo.
Gurl With Red Hair cosplaying X-23 from the X-Men series. Photo by David Ngo.

Q: What is your favorite cosplay and why?

A: It’s really difficult to choose because I love them all for so many different reasons! I think my Book 1 Korra cosplay stands out the most to me, though. I’m proud of the job I did with color accuracy and wig styling (I still can’t believe I managed to make it happen), but wearing it also introduced me to Meghan from Strawburry17. I’ve done a lot of cosplay videos with her channel, working with SB17 has showed me that the creative possibilities for cosplay are endless. It’s a great privilege to work in an environment where almost anything is possible if you’re dedicated. That one Korra cosplay changed so much for me. I probably cherish it the most.

Q: How do you decide you want to cosplay a particular character? Is there a criteria a character has to meet?

A: At this point I have only cosplayed characters that I’m extremely passionate about or relate to. It’s very hard for me to stay motivated if I don’t absolutely love the character. This year I want to go out of my comfort zone. I still want to cosplay characters that I like, but I’m going to try and limit myself less and not be concerned over trivial things like skin tone or body type.

Q: What’s your cosplay making process? Do you put things together with a particular friend?

A: I start off by collecting reference pictures, then I’ll start figuring out what I need or find stuff around the house. I do try to get contacts/wigs first, since they need to be ordered. When I’m sewing I try to get things done by thread color (all the red stuff first, then black, etc.) so I don’t have to switch the thread as often. I feel like my process is different every time, I really just try to go with the flow and I do tend to work long hours. As soon as I start I have to keep going.

Gurl With Red Hair as Season 4 version of Korra from the Legend of Korra series. Photo by Estrada Photography.
Gurl With Red Hair as Season 4 version of Korra from the Legend of Korra series. Photo by Estrada Photography.

Q: What’s your favorite part of a cosplay to make yourself?

A: I like everything pretty equally, to be honest (although I’m a lot faster when it comes to sewing). It’s really nice to have a variety of different projects to work on so I don’t get sick of one thing. When I get tired/frustrated with sewing I take a break and work on something that involves painting or start layering a wig. My greatest working experiences are the well-balanced ones.

Q: What advice do you have for those who are new to cosplay or are interested in starting?

A: When it comes to attitude, always cosplay for yourself. Do it because it makes you happy, do it because it’s fun. Cosplay is what you make of it, you make the rules…you work at your own pace…it’s about your happiness.

Surround yourself with positive people as well. I can’t stress that enough. When I started I didn’t have a lot of cosplays friends (that lived close to me), and now that I do it’s made a huge difference. Now I have people to go to when I can’t figure something out or (most importantly) when I feel overwhelmed or like I might not be able to make a costume happen. It’s really nice to have a support group. It may take time, but it’s always worth the wait.

Gurl With Red Hair as Scarah Screams from the Monster High series. Photo by
Gurl With Red Hair as Scarah Screams from the Monster High series. Photo by Surfside Images.

As for the actual process of making cosplays, I recommend altering store-bought/thrifted clothes until you get more familiar with how they work! That helped me out so much, and it still helps me to this day. Other than that you really need to understand your learning style and go from there. I’m a visual learner so I largely benefited from YouTube videos and taking apart clothes and putting them back together. I would be so lost without the internet. I didn’t have a lot of cosplay friends when I started so I had to figure out a lot of stuff on my own.

Q: What are your future plans?

A: I try to leave my cosplay schedules open for anything, but I’m definitely going to be working on Lucina from Fire Emblem: Awakening, Kyoko Sakura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and a genderswapped version of Shinji Ikari from Evangelion (plugsuit).

As for cons I’ll be attending the usual California ones (Wondercon/Fanime/Anime Expo/Comikaze), but I’m also hoping that I can attend Dragoncon this year!!!

Girl With Red Hair as Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Photo by York in a Box.
Girl With Red Hair as Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Photo by York in a Box.

Q: What’s your favorite moment from a convention?

A: Anytime I’m in a cosplay group and we see each others (finished!) costumes for the first time. That’s the moment where you really see everything come together. It’s an amazing feeling, and suddenly all the stress disappears.

Q: How has cosplay changed your life?

A: It has drastically changed my life. Cosplay came at a very important time. I was dealing with a lot of severe perfectionism due to ballet, and cosplay was my escape. Cosplay didn’t have any rules or strict technique guidelines and I was free to do it anyway I wanted. I didn’t have to worry about performing perfectly for judges, or worry about being good enough. Although I still have my moments, as long as I know that I did what I could with what I had….it’s all that will ever matter. That was a very big breakthrough for me, favoring heart over perfection.

Outside of personal hurdles I’ve overcome through cosplay, I’ve found a community. I have found amazing friends and I continually meet awesome people at cons. There’s a real sense of camaraderie among most cosplayers. There’s a sense of freedom in being able to be express yourself without being judged. Especially when it comes to being a total fangirl/boy/person for what you’re cosplaying.

Gurl With Red Hair as Ryuko Matoi from the anime Kill La Kill.
Gurl With Red Hair as Ryuko Matoi from the anime Kill La Kill.

I’m also grateful for the opportunities I’ve had because of it. Working with Strawburry17 has kind of unveiled this new world where anything can happen. I tend to be too much of a realist, so being around someone who’s as ambitious as Meghan has encouraged me to dream bigger. I think that has definitely changed my outlook on cosplay. I feel like there’s so much that can be done with it now.

Q: How do you feel about all of the attention you’ve been receiving recently regarding your Korra and Asami cosplay shipping pictures that have been going around the internet? What’s the story behind the photos?

A: I am completely surprised by the attention honestly. I didn’t even think it would leave my Instagram! There have been a lot positive reactions, though. [SPOILERS] The Korrasami ending was a big moment for the show and mainstream animation, it’s close to a lot of people’s hearts. To be able to pay tribute to that and have people react so passionately feels great.

The instagram photo of Girl With Red Hair as Korra and Sushi Monster as Asami from the Legend of Korra that spread across the internet.
The instagram photo of Girl With Red Hair as Korra and Sushi Monster as Asami from the Legend of Korra that spread across the internet.

At Anime Los Angeles I decided to look for an Asami and take a cute picture or something and that’s it. Although I decided to post it on social media to express my acceptance and support for couples like Korra and Asami. It was my way of saying “hey I am totally cool with this, I think LGTBQ+ relationships should be celebrated.” If I had known that the pictures were going to speak to people like that, I would have opted for a photo shoot instead of cell phone pictures in a hotel lobby!!!

We did get a lot of gross comments though, and homophobic ones as well. A lot of disgusting remarks on 9gag and people telling us that we needed to go to church. It was awful. But the good outweighed the bad. I’m glad the pictures made Korrasami fans happy.

Follow Gurl With Red Hair:

Facebook Page: Gurl With Red Hair

Twitter: @gurlwithredhair

Instagram: @gurlwithredhair

Youtube: Amethyst Leon

Youtube collaboration videos with Strawburry17

You can also game with her! 

PSN: gurlwithredhair

Gurl With Red Hair posing as X-23 for photographers.
Gurl With Red Hair posing as X-23 for photographers.

If you think that you or a cosplayer you know should be featured on SheAttack, then either shoot me a tweet @GaNuovo, or message me on my cosplay Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GabbyNuCosplay?ref=hl

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Gabby first delve into the world of gaming with Pokémon Red. Being a 90’s kid, it was practically predestined for her to discover the wonder of the Gameboy. From there on, Pokémon, Zelda, Mario, Kirby, and Sonic became the staples of her gaming diet. At the age of nine, she received her very first home console: the GameCube. She entered the world of JRPGs and simulation games such as Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing. With the purchase of a PS3 in 2008, she began the third chapter in her gaming life, embracing RPGs such as Fallout and Mass Effect, action-adventures like inFamous, and even shooters. The well-rounded gamer is also an avid anime fan and devoted cosplayer, and has a fondness for film, writing, and photography that she hopes to take to the professional level after college.