Cosplay Quick Facts
Name: Kay Thomas
Length of Cosplaying: 2 years
Hobbies Outside of Cosplay: Playing League of Legends, traveling, hiking, playing with her cats!
If you could be any crayon color, you’d be? Pink
Ayana Underwood: Hi Kay! I’m thrilled to be chatting with you, especially since you’re a fellow Trini gyal. My mom is actually from San Fernando! I’ve admired you ever since I came across your Harley Quinn cosplay back in 2016. I was doing an assignment about cosplay for my comic studies class and seeing your Harley Quinn pictures inspired me to cosplay her for Halloween the same year. Seeing another Black girl do that really spoke to me and I’ve been a fan ever since.
Kay Thomas: Hi Ayana! [smiles] My mom is from Siparia! Thank you so much for offering to interview me and I’m glad I could be an inspiration.
Ayana: So, easy question first. Hash yer dothrae chek? (Literal Dothraki translation: Do you ride well?) I don’t know why that came out in Dothraki, ahem, I mean, how are you? [laughs]Also, can you ride a horse and if you haven’t already, would you?
Kay: That’s pretty good Dothraki! I’ve actually never ridden a horse, but I rode a camel once.
Ayana: A camel! I’m adding a camel ride to my bucket list right now! But honestly, that’s mad cool. Since we’re on the subject of Game of Thrones, I’ve seen your hand-crafted cosplay for both Daenerys and “Kay” Drogo, your female version of Khal Drogo. They’re both stunning and intricate. How long did it take you to create? Which cosplay was more challenging?
Kay: I made Dany in one day before a con. The entire costume was held together by hot glue and hope [laughs]. It took about 4 or 5 days to create my gender-bend Khal Drogo cosplay. I used leather, vinyl, and worbla. It was my first time working with those materials. Kay Drogo was more challenging because I tried to make parts of the design unique which also made it the most fun!.
Ayana: That cosplay was unique, especially your version of Khal Drogo. I’ve noticed a lot of people are harsh on cosplayers in regards to the accuracy of the character portrayals. What do you feel constitutes great cosplay? Is it the accuracy of the costume itself? Do you feel the cosplayer should have the same body type as the character?
Kay: The beauty and enjoyment of cosplay comes from the fact your cosplay can be anything you want it to be. There are no rules. No right or wrong ways to cosplay. A great cosplay is a costume someone spent time and care on, and they are ultimately happy with overall. Pay no mind to the online trolls who hound cosplayers about accuracy.
Ayana: What makes cosplay bad?
Kay: A cosplay would definitely be considered bad if it is insulting, hurtful, or harmful to a certain group, race, or person.
Ayana: I agree with you. Now I’m apologizing in advance if I sound like a total stalker, but I did creep on your social media pages and I noticed you recently added a new kitty fur baby to your family!. And now, I adore you even more because I’m obsessed with cats too! What’s the story behind you adopting this new kitten? Do you plan on adding more fur babies to your family?
Kay: I was driving home in the rain and my fiancé, Justin, and I found her outside running around in the bushes. She was soooo tiny, about 4 weeks old and could barely walk. She was wet, sick, and weak. We took her in and nursed her back to health. Within a few days, she immediately bonded with Justin. We just had to keep her. I definitely hope to get more fur babies in the future once my schedule clears up a little! We would love to get a dog one day!
Ayana: I love that. It’s such an adorable story. Now, I’m sure you get this question a lot, but what made you choose Nidalee from League of Legends as your first cosplay? When you choose someone to cosplay, are you interested in how the outfit will look or does the character inspire you?
Kay: I chose Nidalee mostly because I loved her outfit and the character design! I am a big League of Legends fan and even though she isn’t a character I play, I thought I would do a good job portraying her. I try to choose characters that inspire me or ones that resonate with me. There are times I have chosen a character simply because of their awesome outfits.
Ayana: I definitely see how much you get into character. Your cosplay of Roxanne from A Goofy Movie, Mavis from Hotel Transylvania, and Mei from Overwatch received a ton of positive comments, but you received some pretty nasty ones too. Can you tell me more about the types of criticisms you receive? How do you deal with the haters?
Kay: The criticisms I usually receive are people saying I shouldn’t be cosplaying as white or Asian characters since I’m Black. I get comments almost every day after cosplaying for two years. The best thing I can do is to continue doing what I’m doing. I always remind myself I cosplay for me because it’s something I love, not to please strangers on the Internet!
Ayana: That’s super inspiring, I’m glad to hear it! You recently opened up about your struggles with mental illness on social media. I admire your bravery because mental illness still seems hard to talk about, especially within the Black community. What made you share it with your followers? What advice would you give to those currently struggling?
Kay: I decided to share that with my followers because I tend to get a lot of comments and questions about it. I try to be as transparent as I can about myself on social media. I felt it was something I should not try to hide any longer. It was liberating to share with others and to remind people I am still a human being, not just an image on a screen. I would suggest to others who are currently struggling to never be afraid to reach out for help or advice if you need it. Don’t isolate yourself. Surround yourself with those who love you. Always remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Ayana: Yes! It’s comforting to know people are never alone. So what’s the next event on your roster where your die-hard cosplay fans can get the chance to meet you?
Kay: My next event is A-Kon in Fort Worth, Texas, June 7-10.
Ayana: YAY!!! So, Black Panther is out! Yes! This is such a big deal for the Black community! Are you planning a special Black Panther cosplay?
Kay: I haven’t had a chance to see it yet, but I plan to!! And, of course, I’m planning something!
Ayana: I can’t wait to see it! Kay, thank you so much for joining me here at BGN! I hope you enjoyed it. Hajas! Damn! I spoke in Dothraki again, I meant, “Goodbye.” [laughs]
Kay: No, thank you [laughs].
Update: Kay has seen the Black Panther. She said: “It exceeded my expectations! I absolutely loved it. I really think a movie with representation like this was needed for POC and POC in the cosplay community. I also hope this movie inspires other filmmakers and directors to follow the same path.”
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.
Follow Kay on social media by checking out the links below: [Editor’s Note: NSFW]
By: Ayana Underwood, a BGN intern is passionate about racial issues, comics, and beauty. She aspires to get her Masters degree and when she’s not writing, she’s watching any show, with a slice of pepperoni pizza in hand, featuring a Black female lead. When she’s not eating, she’s drooling over kitten photos on the web! Follow Ayana on her comic analysis blog, ComixBawse, Twitter, and Facebook!