Cosplay Friday: Doing it Yourself with Becky Young [Full]
From ponies to professional assassins, she's got a costume for that.
For this month’s Cosplay Friday, we’re shining a light on Becky Young, better known as Aktrez, a versatile cosplayer whose costumes range from the adorable (like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’s Pinky Pie) to the badass (see: Black Widow) and everything in between. Take a look at our gallery of her work, then check out our chat with this cosplay juggernaut and learn what it takes to to kick ass in the industry.
TOKYOPOP: So, tell us: how did you get started cosplaying?
Becky Young: Well, I’ve been playing dress up my whole life, however, in 2005 I learned of an artist named Greg Horn. After doing a bit of research, it led me to a character named Emma Frost from the X-Men. That Comic-Con I decided to go as Emma Frost and my cosplaying began!
TP: What’s your favorite costume to wear and why?
BY: Gosh, that’s like asking me who my favorite kid is (which the answer is none of them because I don’t have one). It depends really! I love Tinkerbell because it’s so fun to be Tink, but I also love Pinkie Pie because it’s super comfy and SO much fun to be her!
TP: What do you look for in a potential costume?
BY: First, I look for characters that I can portray. When I cosplay, I don’t just put on fun clothes; I BECOME the character. Therefore, rule one for me is: is this going to be someone that I want to become for the day!?
TP: That’s a good rule to have. If you had unlimited time and money, what would be your dream costume to make?
BY: I guess I’ll just have to get that time and money so you can find out. Something I don’t really want to share because, as a cosplayer, you want to really shock and awe. My dream costume is something that I’ve been wanting to do for years, no one has REALLY done right and…when I do do it…I will leave a mark. So…donations are welcome. Ha ha!
TP: Cryptic, but we’re intrigued! Do you change your personality to fit the character you’re portraying?
BY: Yes, 100%. I’ve been an actress since I was 4 years old. While most of my friends were out partying in high school, I was home creating characters and making movies. It’s something that’s ingrained in me and sets me apart from some of the other cosplayers. For me, the “play” part of cosplay is the best part!
TP: Are you someone who likes to put your own spin on a costume design or are you religious about sticking as close to original design as possible?
BY: I am typically a perfectionist when it comes to costumes. Unless it’s something like My Little Pony which lends itself to personification of a character, I try to get EVERYTHING exact. That comes down to even the colors and tiny details of a costume.
TP: Do you have a favorite convention to attend wearing costumes?
BY: San Diego Comic-Con is still my favorite convention. It’s where all of my friends converge and where I typically debut costumes and groups. This coming Comic-Con is going to be a FUN one as well as we have some tricks up our sleeves and will be debuting a VERY cool group cosplay. So, be sure to definitely keep an eye out for that!
TP: What words of advice would you give to those who are interested in becoming a cosplayer?
BY: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but LEARN TO SEW! I had been piecing my costumes together for years. Taking bits and pieces and dying them/changing them, etc. I hadn’t actually sewn my own costume from scratch until this year. While it’s very very challenging, the rewards are beyond imaginable! Other than that, the sky is the limit! If you can see it…you can create it. It just takes a little imagination and creativity.
TP: What’s one mistake you think beginner cosplayers make and how can they avoid it?
BY: Taking the easy route is the biggest mistake I’ve seen. People who consider themselves “cosplayers,” but who purchase costumes at the store and just go out to get attention is not really cosplaying. It’s dressing up. I think that cosplayers should spend the time and invest it in their character. Really find a character that embodies you and that you feel you will do justice. Don’t do a character just because they are sexy or popular! Do a character because you LOVE that character or design.
TP: What was it like winning a craftsmanship award for your Viola (Soul Calibur V) costume this year at Katsucon?
BY: Humbling! I honestly wasn’t expecting ANYTHING with that costume going into the competition. It was my first time building something from scratch and I was seeing all of the flaws the entire way in! I mean, heck…pieces were LITERALLY breaking off as I was walking to the judging. But, I am very proud of how it all came out and impressing YaYa Han (the Goddess of Cosplay) alone was a prize enough!
TP: You've put a big emphasis on building all your costumes from scratch this year - what has that taught you? How important is it to you personally to be apart of building your costumes?
BY: Building something from scratch has really proven to me that I can do ANYTHING. In the past year alone I’ve taught myself woodworking, beading, jewelry-making, wig-making, sewing, painting, drawing, cobbling and more! That’s a lot of skill sets to learn and all for one hobby!
TP: What's you favorite experience you've had in costume?
BY: There are SO many! I think when Stan Lee hugged me and told he that I was Scarlett Johansson’s twin from Iron Man (wearing my Black Widow costume) and the sheer amazement he had on his face was probably the coolest experience! Or the time that Joss Whedon came up to our Sexy Disney Princess group and said, “Wow! I’m a big fan, can I get a picture!?” Other than that, I just LOVE getting into character and playing with people. Every event, every costume, every experience tells a story.
For more on Becky, you can follow her on Twitter, then check out our gallery of her awesome work. For more cosplay goodness, be sure to tune in to Just Cos on the Nerdist Channel on YouTube.