As an internationally known and respected cosplayer, Riki LeCotey embraces all things cosplay. She's brought Hell Girl, Snow White, Black Cat and Huntress to life, to name a few, and each costume has represented its own set of challenges which have led her to pick up mad costuming skills. LeCotey is one of nine cosplaying “heroes” of Syfy's new docu-series, Heroes of Cosplay, which follows the cosplayers around the world to different genre conventions for costume competitions. The series premieres Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. ET.
“If I wasn't on this show, I would totally watch it. It's about cosplay,” said LeCotey. “I love cosplay, all aspects. And there's good and there's bad. If [Heroes of Cosplay] does well, it could lead to more cosplay shows, and maybe those cosplay shows will be more what I would want to watch.”
LeCotey is Canadian, but she moved to the U.S. to further her costuming skills and she's worked on two feature films, Big Momma's House: Like Father, Like Son and X-Men: First Class. She's been involving in costuming for over 14 years and is a popular cosplay favorite who is invited to many conventions to judge, host workshops and promote cosplay.
“I did about two or three costumes before I realized that there were conventions, there were other people who did this. I always joked that I thought I was being so innovative. Like, man, I'm the only one out there that dresses up as cartoon characters! Just 'cause I was young and naïve,” she said.
Now she's one of the leaders when it comes to cosplay.
“I'm really humbled that so many people like what I do and follow me, 'cause when I started there was no social networking. I would go online and there was this one website that would take photos at a convention and you'd start seeing the same people over and over again. I guess for people like myself it's just really flattering. As a hobby, I didn't do it to get followers. Had you told me when I started that there would be a TV show, I would have completely not believed you,” she said.
She believes she and other stars on Heroes of Cosplay, like Yaya Han, take cosplay to “a whole new level. We're sort of like cosplay pioneers, I guess,” said LeCotey.
“I want to make cosplay better, and all I want to see is better costumes. If I can give someone a piece of advice that helps them make a really cool costume, then that's a great feeling. With the competition aspect, it's a whole other experience. It's a different way of putting yourself out there. I like doing panels. That's sort of my favorite. People can come up to you on a personal level and ask you how you made your costume and ask questions about how they can make their costume,” she said.
LeCotey especially likes costumes that look like they can exist in the real world. “This is just for me. Everyone has different opinions. Something that looks like it exists in the real world, something that's crafted well. You know, it's beautifully put together, there's thought in it. That's basically the two main things.”
Fifty girls can dress as Black Cat, “but they'll all look different because they've all done it differently and they've all done it in their own way. That's what I like. When someone takes a character and does it in their own way,” she said.
"It is a creative outlet. It gives you a chance to learn a bunch of skills,” said LeCotey. “The cool thing about cosplay is this generation of people, we're learning all these sort of traditional skills. [However,] you can participate at any level. If you just want to dress up as a character and you want to pay to have your costume made, you can go ahead and do that. If you want to do everything, if you want to cobble your own shoes and weave your own wigs, you can do that as well. So you can participate at any point,” said LeCotey.
And LeCotey has taken cosplay to an even higher level. She's doing it for charity.
LeCotey put together a calender with images of different cosplayers for her organization, Cosplay for a Cause, which raised more than $30,000 for the Japanese Red Cross tsunami disaster relief, with 100 percent of the proceeds being donated. Now she's working on another project with the proceeds going to the American Red Cross.
Check out the gallery below for some of their favorite costumes.