Originally hailing from the Southwest, Leah Rose has taken the cosplay world by storm, appearing at conventions across the nation. Her interpretations of Rogue and other comic icons are impeccable, and her enthusiasm and love for those in the cosplay and convention circuits knows no bounds. She has transformed herself into dozens of characters, each as eloquent and memorable as the last. She took time out of her busy convention schedule–not to mention work and college classes on top of it all!–to talk to us about her cosplay life.
How long have you been cosplaying?
“I’ve been cosplaying since I was a really, really little kid, and I didn’t even know that cosplay was a thing. I remember my mom and my grandma making me Pokemon and Sailor Moon outfits to run around in when I was really small. But if you mean when did I know what I was doing was cosplaying, my very first convention was Anime Expo 2005, and I had previously joined the school anime club. So we cosplayed a little bit there as well.”
When did cosplay become more than just a hobby for you?
“First and foremost, cosplay is a hobby. I know what you mean by when it became more than just a hobby. It’s definitely worth noting that it’s one of the biggest sources of entertainment and the most fun that I have, so it’s always going to be my favorite hobby. My first job within cosplay was I believe in 2008 when I got hired to help promote and cosplay for an independent artist, and it just kind of exploded into half—not really a good source of income, but you know what I mean.”
You’ve made it one of your cosplay missions to recreate literally every version of Rogue–ever. What has made you connect so strongly with this character?
“Because Rogue is the best ever! When I was younger growing up, you know how little kids want every single thing that looks like themselves—that’s why the American Girl dolls are so popular, because they looked like the kid themselves—well, when I was growing up we didn’t have those sorts of things. All I had was Sailor Jupiter and Rogue from the X-Men. Those were the two things that I really connected with, and once I got old enough to really know them and their back stories and their universes I fell even more in love.”
Do you use your cosplay powers for good or evil?
“I don’t know. Sometimes my cosplay powers are good, sometimes they’re evil. But they’re never really, truly chaotic evil, they’re more like shenanigans. So good. Good and shenanigans.”
What are some of the charities or causes closest to your heart?
“Some of the charities that I’m really passionate about are Tracy’s Tooth Fairy, which was the charity started by my late sister that helps to provide lower income families or families that can’t afford it restorative surgery and procedures for their teeth. Something a lot of people don’t know is chemotherapy completely destroys the enamel of your teeth, and neither medical nor dental insurances will cover it. So that’s a charity that exists that my friends and I have taken over and is still going decently strong. I’m also really fond of anything that helps wildlife, so a lot of ocean conservation and The Nature Conservancy is one of my favorites.”
Tell us about Project Daenerys.
“Project Daenerys is a three-in-one project. I am cosplaying every single version of Daenerys as she appears on the show (and a couple of original ones as well), but I am creating none of it myself. I am hiring commissioners who do this for a living to do every single version of the costume for me. So not only am I supporting the commissioners with my own money but I am also being able to get the word out about them so when anyone compliments my costume or when I post on social media I can go, ‘Thank you for the kind words. Here’s the person who made it.” Also it helps to get rid of the stigma of ‘You didn’t make the costume yourself so you’re not a real fan.’ It’s stupid, and it makes people feel bad. So the core of it is trying to get rid of that stigma.”
Which do you prefer: going to a con as a fan or as a guest?
“Honestly, as much as I love going to conventions as a guest, I am always going as a fan. The guest thing—honestly there are quite a few times where I personally can’t afford to make a convention unless I am working it as a guest of the show itself. It’s a bit of an unfortunate situation, and if I had all the money in the world I would definitely be going to all the same ones plus more. I definitely prefer the idea of fan, but guest just works more. It also promotes the idea that, ‘Oh, it’s not just somebody with millions and millions of fans, anyone can do this,’ which is totally awesome.”
Who has been your favorite meet’n’geek at a con so far?
“I’m not really sure what you mean by ‘meet’n’geek.’ I’m assuming you mean famous person. Honestly, probably Gates McFaddin, who played Beverly Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was wearing my StarFleet Academy cheerleading outfit and we had this back-and-forth, which was great, and she just grabbed my phone and started texting one of our mutual friends. TNG is my life. I adore Star Trek with everything, so that was a big one. Hopefully meeting Jean Luc Picard will top it.”
Give our readers a few of your best cosplay tips.
“Some of the best cosplay tips that I have are first off, start small. Don’t go with some insane, crazy armor build your first time out because you get frustrated and it’s difficult to stay enthusiastic about something. If you start small, you get it right (or close enough), and you build up your confidence and you feel better about tackling larger projects. And keep in mind why you’re doing this. We’re all a bunch of nerds dressed up as fictional characters. Let’s remember that we’re all passionate about the things that we do. Just don’t take it so seriously to where you don’t enjoy it anymore. If it gets too stressful, just watch some YouTube tutorials and have a cup of tea and step back. A lot of it is the attitude that you come into it with. And YouTube tutorials.”
What do you consider to be the three most essential items for a cosplayer’s closet or workspace?
“The three most essential items for a closet or workspace. Those are two very different questions so I’ll answer both of them. Closet would be: dance tights/a cup (if you are a male), a really well-fitting strapless bra for females, and gloves—multiple, multiple gloves of all different cuts and colors so you don’t have to make them yourself (because those are a pain). For workspace, I’m going to have to go with hot glue gun and super glue and E6000 (these are ‘and,’ not ‘or,’ this is all and), safety pins, and a lot of extra bobbins because those always go south. It all depends on the project you’re working on. Probably a heat gun, too. See? It all depends on the material.”