Holly Brooke Talks About the Ups and Downs of Cosplay

Holly Brooke is not only a terrific cosplayer, but she is incredibly intelligent and a very thoughtful woman.  I’d seen Holly’s cosplay images before getting the chance to meet her in person at ZappCon and she is even more impressive one-on-one. Part of her charm is her genuine personality and sweetness. She is an honestly nice person and quite humble to boot. I got the chance to interview Holly about the ups and downs of cosplay – the joys and the challenges for someone who does this as a hobby.

Meeting Holly in person at ZappCon - just the nicest person
Meeting Holly in person at ZappCon – just the nicest person and great Batgirl costume (cowl by Reevzfx / grapple gun not shown by Keroga Forge / rest of costume by Holly)

Thanks, Holly for doing this interview with me. When I met you, I was stunned by your Batgirl outfit. Not only did you look great in it, but it was detailed perfectly. You looked like you had just stepped out of a comic book. Sort of a Weird Science moment for me – the unreal becoming real. What’s the most difficult part about putting together an outfit? Is it the design? The materials? The actual construction?  

Cosplay is as difficult as you make it! I’m a pretty type A person so I run into a lot of problems due to perfectionism. Committing to a concept design can be difficult for someone that is as indecisive as I am, but I would have to say that actual construction is the most difficult part.

Your Ghost Rider cosplay is probably one of the most bold and innovative I’ve seen. It’s also very different from your typical superhero outfit. What inspired you to want to cosplay this character? Which version of Ghost Rider did you model your look after the most?

Ghost Rider is a costume I am very proud of, and it is very near and dear to my heart. I came up with the idea of using a multicolored wig to create a flame effect and at that moment I knew I had to bring my concept for a female Ghost Rider into reality. I based my design off of Alejandra from Marvel comics. I made that costume for San Diego Comic Con in 2013, but I have plans to revisit Ghost Rider and possibly make a more armored look!

Holly as Ghost Rider (photo by Lucky Monkey Photo)
Holly as Ghost Rider (photo by Lucky Monkey Photo / outfit by Holly)

I read on your Facebook page that you’ve decided to do Emma Frost in a joint venture with another cosplayer. Which version of Emma have you decided to do? Can you spill the beans for those of us who are curious?

I am planning on doing the Hellfire club version, but I am probably going to tweak the design a bit to make it a little more con friendly and for my own comfort!

You’ve said that you’re not a professional cosplayer, but you do take time to attend conventions and pose with fans. Since this isn’t your primary source of revenue, what about cosplay inspires you to keep doing it?

I am a veterinary student primarily and am about a year and a half away from graduating as a doctor of veterinary medicine. School is extremely stressful and demanding, even very depressing at times. I find that creating costumes and attending conventions has helped me keep my sanity while getting through professional school.

What do you see as the biggest difference between doing cosplay as a hobby and as a profession? What would it be like if you decided to go pro? You certainly have the talent to do so. I imagine it’s the time commitment involved.

To be honest, I’m not really sure what constitutes a professional cosplayer. I think that there is a very small minority of people that are able to make a living off of this hobby or that do not have a day job. A lot of cosplayers get invited to cons and sell prints but that does not mean that they are breaking even when it comes to revenue.

Holly in her Supergirl outfit by Lucky Monkey Photo
Holly in her Supergirl outfit (photo by Lucky Monkey Photo / outfit by Holly)

You mentioned on your Facebook page there were some people giving cosplayers in general a lot of criticism over dressing in a sexy outfit. What kind of criticism do you hear and how do you deal with it?

I don’t agree with shaming anybody for choosing to show their body in or out of cosplay, and I find bullying to be intolerable. I am fairly modest when it comes to cosplay, mostly due to being able to suit dress codes at smaller family friendly conventions and to maintain professionalism for my career; however, I am no stranger to criticism. I have been called rude names on pretty much all deep dark corners of the internet, usually referring to my body type and not my costumes.

Speaking of dressing in sexy outfits – while you don’t wear things that are ultra revealing (you mentioned Emma Frost might be a challenge to your normal sense of decorum), you do wear form fitting clothing that is very attractive. Yet you have said many times you are naturally shy. Does cosplay help you out in overcoming that shyness?

My shyness and modesty aren’t directly related. I am a shy person, as in I have an introverted personality-at least at first, and especially in an over stimulating environment like a large convention. My modesty is generally due to trying to have family friendly costumes for conventions and maintaining as much professionalism as I can for my veterinary career. As far as modesty goes, I also really try to discourage people on the internet from commenting on my body, and generally dressing more conservatively helps with that. Cosplay has helped me express myself artistically, and I do enjoy meeting people that are from the same fandoms or that enjoy my costumes.

Holly as Jill Valentine from the video game Resident Evil (photo by Victor Trejo / costume by Holly Brooke)
Holly as Jill Valentine from the video game Resident Evil (photo by Victor Trejo / costume by Holly)

If you were to give advice to someone who is just getting into cosplay but wants to learn to make the kind of highly detailed, professional looking outfits that you have made, what would you say to them to help them out?

You’re probably going to have many sleepless nights, a lot of wasted money on supplies for ideas that did not work, and end products that you’re just not quite happy with. BUT hang in there, keep pushing yourself, and don’t be afraid to try new things while crafting! I have yet to meet a cosplayer that got everything right the first time, or that doesn’t have something they would like to change about their costume! We all experience it. Most importantly, have fun!

Thank you so much, Holly for spending time answering these questions. I hope you’ll send me a photo of your Emma Frost debut! I’d love to share it with our followers.

If you’d like to follow Holly and see what she’s working on, you can like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter for updates!

  • For more cosplay insights, read our interviews with Chey’Anne Harris who does amazing Princess cosplay, Reini Side who does an impressive Evil Queen/Regina from Once Upon A Time, and Ivy Tenebrae who does a variety of both Marvel and Disney characters as well as others.
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