Making the world a better place one cosplay at a time.
Samantha Leigh Catalano is a special person. She turned the hurt and pain of childhood into an opportunity to bring light and happiness to others. A former model, Samantha owns and operates Samantha’s Fairytale Princesses as well as working as a paraprofessional. But what makes her stand out isn’t just her beauty or cosplaying skill. It’s her kindness for others and her passion against bullying. Samantha allowed Disney Nerds to interview her and find out more about her love of cosplay and the inspiration she has from life and others.
Thank you so much for agreeing to do an interview for our Disney Nerds out there. I’m sure after seeing your work, they’ll love your stuff as much as I do. Tell me, you have done a LOT of Disney Princess cosplay. What about the Disney Princesses in general appeals to you and do you have a favorite?
Disney princesses have always been a big part of my childhood. As a child, I was obsessed with The Little Mermaid and watched the movie on repeat. I love how the more recent Disney princesses have evolved into more strong, independent, heroine type of characters. I love the lessons they teach to little girls. My favorite as an adult is Elsa. Without Elsa, I wouldn’t have started all of this. I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity of meeting so many amazing children. Our uncanny likeness has made so many kids smile. It also gave me the taste for cosplay and helped me come out of my shell. Plus, I relate to her character on a different level because I suffer with serious anxiety. The whole “conceal, don’t feel” stuff really hits home. As a child my favorite was Ariel because of her upbeat personality and her sense of adventure. She’s also my second favorite cosplay. I love singing part of your world to the kids. It will always be one of my favorite Disney songs.
You recently went to NYCC with a Jyn Erso cosplay! What made you decide to go the Star Wars route this time and why Jyn?
I absolutely love Jyn. I immediately wanted to cosplay her the second I saw Rogue One. I made it official when I linked up with a Rogue One group at NYCC and also had the opportunity to meet Felicity Jones.
I think it’s great you are being sponsored by Cosplay Against Bullying. Can you tell me more about that organization and why it means so much to you?
I was bullied as a kid. It was downright one of the worst feelings and experiences I have ever went through. I also modeled for a couple years before becoming a cosplayer and after a while I started to resent it. Cosplaying is so freeing and fun. Plus I love doing it to cheer others up, especially the kids. But, there are quite a few unkind people in this community as well and we are doing our best as a team to stop it.
On Instagram you posted an amazing pic of yourself from your days doing modeling. What made you decide to focus on cosplay instead of continuing the modeling career? You have such beautiful features, I imagine you were in high demand. Are you still modeling from time-to-time? And what made you decide to go into business for yourself?
Ah, yes modeling. I have a bitter sweet take on modeling. As beautiful as a lot of those photos and magazine features are, it was a lot of stress. I was put under a lot of pressure and I never felt fulfilled. I model from time to time but usually they are cosplay shoots. Cosplaying is a lot less pressure for me and I’m able to actually make a difference. There’s so much more to it than just outside beauty. I feel it’s made me a better person, where as modeling I didn’t feel much other than “pretty”.
What inspired you to do the Enchanted Wish Visits?
When I started doing birthday parties. I was asked to visit the Ronald McDonald House as a favor. So I got a bunch of girls together and we went as princesses to surprise the kids. After that event as over we all sat in the car and cried our eyes out. I’m pretty sure I cried myself to sleep that night. One of the mothers said to me “thank you because my daughter may never be able to go to Disney World, so thank you for letting her meet her favorite princess.” From that day forward the Enchanted Wish visits were born. We try to visit every child who’s parent or family friend writes in as long as the traveling is in reach. It is the most rewarding choice I have ever made. Though we have lost quite a few of our wish children, I feel honored and privileged to have gotten to know them and made time for them, even for just a moment.
What goes into your cosplay? Do you make your own costumes and about how long does it take to develop a character you want to portray? What characters are you hoping to one day do and why haven’t you done them yet?
I usually come up with a concept and buy pieces or make pieces depending on the cosplay. Some of them I have help from custom costume makers. I try to keep everything as screen accurate as possible. For example The snow spider aka Spider Elsa was my own concept design with the help of a few friends. Harley Quinn I made a lot of that costume and purchased a few more screen accurate pieces. So much goes into it, even hair and make up. It’s hours of prep time.
For you, what is important about cosplay? You are obviously an inspiration to others, who in the cosplay community inspires you?
Traci Hines is one of my biggest inspirations. Pretty much anyone who uses cosplay for a cause and to make themselves and others happy inspires me. Anyone trying to use cosplay as a positive outlet, they are my hero haha.
What other dreams are you pursuing in life at the moment? What are your big three bucket list items?
I would like to eventually become a teacher or just excel at my day job as being a special needs para. I hope to meet more of the people who inspire me. This year I met Felicity Jones and Gal Gadot. Those were both amazing moments for me. My dreams are to be able to cosplay and make others dreams come true for as long as I can, have a career that I love and hopefully start a family of my own.
Thank you so much for doing our interview and hopefully we’ll get to meet IRL!
You’re very welcome! That would be wonderful.