ABOUT THIS PODCAST: Dezbah Rose Evans is a noted Indigenous cosplayer, model, and character designer. She joins us for this episode of the Native Hope Podcast, providing information about the inner-workings of Indigenous cosplay. Much work goes into creating these looks, and she provides us with a detailed definition of cosplay.
Additionally, Dezbah acknowledges how Native people make cosplay their own, by incorporating cultural “indicators”—whether that be tribally specific jewelry, patterns, and designs. Given the sensitive nature of Native people and costumes, she describes some of the challenges and criticisms that Indigenous cosplayers face. However, rising above these hurdles proves to be more important, as she describes the creative process to be most rewarding.
Much of the cosplay process is subject to the individual cosplayer and their personal inspirations. She says she personally gravitates toward strong female characters, embodying/representing people like Wonder Woman, Rey from Star Wars, and her favorite, the late Selena, a pop icon. Cosplay can be anything a person wants and is not subject to any rules, she says.
Aside from talking about her origins and how she came to express herself in this medium, she also takes the time to describe the differences between mainstream cosplay and indigenous cosplay. She regards the potential within cosplay, to assert the balance between modern identity and cultural heritage. Often times, Native American people are absent from mainstream media as heroic characters are notably not Indigenous. Although, as an Indigenous person, it is perfectly okay to incorporate their own twists and interpretation of these well-known characters. In doing so, Indigenous people show the mainstream world that they are in charge of their image and perception, beyond leather, fringe, and faux feathers. The world has created their own view of what Indigenous people look like, which differs from whom Native people truly are as innovators and creators.
Join us while Dezbah leads this discussion.