Hailing from the great state of Alabama, Katie George has cosplayed since 2004, appearing at conventions like MomoCon and Anime Matsuri. Not only has she represented the U. S. of A. at the World Cosplay Summit, but she also competed on the shortened second season of Heroes of Cosplay in 2014.
theScore esports caught up with George to talk about teaching Battlestar Galactica's Alessandro Juliani the nuances of Southern accents, her love for the anime Princess Tutu, and why she cringes when people call her a "professional cosplayer."
How did you get involved with cosplay?
I discovered cosplay on the internet probably as early on as like...I think I remember finding it online in the year 2000 and it was because I was just looking at pictures of Sailor Moon, as I did frequently, and I came across a girl who was doing a tutorial on how to style your hair like Sailor Moon. And she was a member of a group of people who dressed up like Sailor Moon and I remember at the time being a 12-year-old in Alabama and being like "I'll never ever get to go to a convention!" (laughs). I lamented the fact that I would never get to go to a con and fast-forward to 2004, I'd made some friends online, we were all interested in amateur voice-acting and they all said "Hey, let's all get together and meet up at a con." And the con they picked was Anime Weekend Atlanta in the year 2004 and I begged, begged, begged my mom to drive me up there and let me go to that first convention. Yeah, since 2004.
What was your first cosplay?
My first costume was Haruko from FLCL...I basically picked it because I loved the character and of course, I'm very tall. I'm 5'10, so I like to pick characters where I can kind of use my height to an advantage. And she's not supposed to be extremely tall, but she is most frequently seen with a young boy, so I make any cosplayer just about look like a young, small person when you're 5'10.
You were on Syfy's Heroes of Cosplay in 2014, how was that experience?
Interesting, stressful, weird, but I wasn't on the first season, I was on the second half season and I'd also been friends with most of the girls from the first season from the very beginning. I was friends with them when they were first talking about the concept of the show and when the concept of the show changed. And I was at the first convention they all filmed them, at Katsucon 2012, which was the year I entered and competed in the World Cosplay Summit. So I've been there since, I think, its inception, but I hadn't been a part of it until the second half-season when they were expanding the cast. And of course I'd been there when the audience reactions came in. It was very mixed, a lot of negative, a lot of positive as well, but a lot of negative. So I knew what to expect, so I went in very realistic, knowing more or less what was going to happen and having been cut from the first season — I filmed a few seasons when they came to the con in Texas, Anime Matsuri, but then they cut every scene I was in — but yeah, it's a weird experience being followed around by cameras mostly because I guess everyone wants to think, because you're followed by cameras, the show was rigged...
I would say it's weird because on the show you're entering costume contests and it almost does feel a little bit skewed in your favour just because the producers are trying to tell the judges you know, "What did you think about this costume, give us your feedback on it." Basically, by asking them to think hard about our costumes because we were filming a show there, it kind of plants a seed in the judge's mind. So even though there probably other costumes there that were just as good as our costumes, ours were memorable because we had a film crew follow us around. It's weird to be on the back side of that.
You're actually a trained dancer as well, how has that and cosplay intersected for you?
Princess Tutu, the anime, is a really, really beautiful series. It's one of those shows that seems like it's not going to have a lot of depth and then you watch it, it has a surprising amount of depth and in America, not so much in Japan, but in America it actually has a really big kind of niche following.
So, I was a member of the Princess Tutu fandom, and I was a cosplayer and I'd also been dancing since I was five years old so the fact that that was just a popular series that I loved and other people loved and my friends loved, I just had to cosplay from it. Because I still had my point shoes and I still knew how to dance on point. So I did a group and we performed at the Anime Central Masquerade and we won...first place I suppose for group performance.
And then, fast-forward a few years later, Diane and I decided in 2012 to enter World Cosplay Summit again because we entered in 2009 and lost, and we picked Princess Tutu because it was a series that we both felt extremely passionate about. We didn't want to pick something that we just liked [because of] the costumes and we weren't fans of the series, we wanted to pick a series we really, really cared about. Even if we lost, we'd still be happy with our skit and happy with our costumes and would want to re-wear them and not just wear them once.
What's the weirdest thing that's happened to you at a convention?
The only think I can think of right now is one of my cooler moments, which is staggering around DragonCon drunkenly dressed as Six from Battlestar Galactica and I hear a voice go "Oh, it's Tricia Helfer's clone" and I just turned and to be like "Uuugh, thank you!" like a typical sloppy drunk cosplayer and it was Alessandro Juliani [Lieutenant Felix Gaeta].
So I met Gaeta and Michael Trucco [Ensign Samuel Anders] and they were just being nice and he randomly asked me and a friend of mine "Oh, where you guys from?" and I said "Oh, I'm from Alabama" and he said "Alabama? You're from Alabama!" And I'm like "Yes, yes I am" and he's like "Can I record you?" and I was like "Come again?" and he said "I'm directing a play in Canada that takes place in Alabama, I'd love to record someone with a authentic accent" and I said "Well, I actually don't have an accent despite being from Alabama but I can fake it (puts on accent)." And he was like "I'd love to record that!"
So that's my weirdest story. I got invited up to a Battlestar Galactica actor's room so I could record lines from the Miracle Worker in an Alabama accent.
Have you ever had a cosplay malfunction?
I actually had a cosplay malfunction at my second convention ever (laughs). It was so embarrassing! It was 2005 and it was the year I learned why you should always pin your wigs on. I was dressed as Lacus [Clyne] from Gundam Seed and someone had put up a limbo bar at the con and people, cosplayers and non-cosplayers were limbo'ing under the bar and I was like "Oh, I'm really good at limbo! I got this!" and so I started to limbo under the bar and my long pink wig was just like zooop! and fell right off of my head and I was so embarrassed I instantly snatched it up and was like "Aaah!" a nervous laugh and one of my friends was like "You're telling me Lacus isn't a real pink-head!"
What's something people don't know about you that you want them to know?
I guess I would want people to know that I'm not a professional cosplayer, and I recoil whenever someone tries to call me a professional cosplayer because I think you can be a good cosplayer without being called a professional cosplayer. There are tons of us who don't do it for a living and don't want to do it for a living. Want to just have it be our hobby and enjoy it for that reason. So don't call me a professional cosplayer, I'm just a hobbyist (laughs).
If you want to see more of Katie George's cosplay, check out these links:
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Photos courtesy of Katie George.