While there are a million things I could tell you about getting into character, getting ready to perform on stage or in front of people or just getting the confidence to persuasively pretend to be someone else for a day here are some of the most basic things you need to do to prepare for a new character.
While I use this for cosplay you can also apply this to acting, or performing literally anywhere else as well.
- Choose who you want to be. I know this sounds simple and obvious but you need to pick a character. Not only that you need to decide what personality you’re giving this character. If you’re character already has a show or a movie it will be a little easier for you to decide what personality to give them; however, feel free to change it up within the limits of the character. Nothing is more boring that a million cosplayers doing the same sex-crazed Grell or the same ditzy skanky Harley Quinn/. The characters are ,more than what’s on the surface and don’t be afraid to give them your own spin!.
- Study your character! I can’t tell you how many times I see someone cosplaying a character and they really don’t know too much about their character. Watch the shows, read the comics, follow the online blogs; do whatever you need to do to know your character inside and out. That is the difference between wearing a costumer and being a cosplayer. Learn their favorite color, the tone of their voice, study their accent if they have one. What is their favorite food? What do they like to do in their spare time? Do they like to read or write? Would they use contractions like “Don’t” “won’t” and “can’t” or are they the type of person who says the words out completely like “do not” “cannot” and “will not.” Would they use slang like “ain’t” “bro” “dude” “nah?” do they swear? These are all really important things to think about, and these are what make the character your own.
- Pick a clothing style that is the style of your character completely, but don’t forget about your comfort. If your character would wear corsets and stilettos all of the time but you’ve never worn heels in your life and don’t know how to use a corset you need to take baby steps. There is nothing wrong with modifying your character for your comfort needs; however, keep the same style of dress. Don’t throw on jeans and sneakers and call it a day. If your character wears a corset get yourself a top that resembles one, or get yourself one that is a size larger than you need and don’t tighten it too much. It will still give you a similar look without the discomfort of a regular corset. If it’s heels you need to wear and you’ve never touched a pair in your life go to your local show store (or Walmart) and get a very nice pair of short heels, or wedges, AND FLATS. If you’ve never worn heels before chances are after about 30 minutes your feet are going to kill you. Wear your flats around for comfort and put the heels or wedges on for pictures. OR if you’re a heel vet like me, it never hurts to keep flats in your purse just in case! I’ve been wearing heels my entire life every day all day and my feet still hurt at conventions. Be prepared. Dressing like your character is the perfect way to get yourself ready for your new personality but being uncomfortable is the quickest way to make you want to leave.
- Hair, makeup, chest binding, and any bother physical aspects that may need to be modified to look and feel like your character. It may seem silly to put so much emphasis on makeup and things like that especially if you’re cosplaying a male character or you’re someone who doesn’t typically use makeup. But trust me, the easiest way to get into your character’s persona is to make yourself physically resemble them as much as reasonably possible. It’s true if you look good you feel good, the same is true about your characters. If you look like your character you’ll start to feel like your character.
- Finally, Don’t take anything too seriously or too personal. This is all about FUN. Period. Nothing else. Do not let other people make you feel like your costume isn’t good enough. If all you have to work with are the clothes in your closet and you have zero budget, no wigs, and no makeup you can still cosplay. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The cosplay community has recently turned much more dark and scary than it ever used to be and that’s NOT how it should be. Please remember this is a hobby and an emotional outlet. Try your hardest not to judge anyone based off of their appearance or the quality of their costume or acting ability. And if you do hear some negative comments stop them or at the very least don’t partake in them. And never take anything anyone says too personal. ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE IN CHARACTER. When I’m Harley I’ll poke fun at the new Suicide Squad version of her. If you do it in a friendly and funny way and MAKE SURE THE OTHER PERSON KNOWS IT’S JUST A FRIENDLY JOKE and not a personal jab at their expense then it’s ok. But never belittle the quality of someone’s work and above all if you notice someone is uncomfortable STOP. Do not keep joking around or making comments do not pass go do not collect $200. Stop.