October guest is Alison Berrios, whose work I discovered via the online Star Wars community (I would say Twitter specifically if memory serves well!). I am happy Alison accepted the invitation and I will let her introduce herself!
My name is Alison Berrios I am married, and mom to Padawan Caleb(who is the best person in the Galaxy) I am the owner of Cosplay For Jedi. I sell hats that I handmake that are inspired by aliens of Star Wars, Including Twi’lek, Togruta, and Ewoks! I also moderate Star Wars panels at local conventions. [Website. Instagram. Twitter. Facebook. Etsy.]
NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?
BERRIOS: The Battle for Endor was the first time (that I can remember) ever watching anything sci-fi related. I LOVED it. It was the only movie I wanted to watch. E.T. came next and I adored it but gosh did it make me cry. It still does.
NG: What is Science Fiction’s responsibility in diverse and inclusive representation?
BERRIOS: Science fiction it is for everyone who wants to be a part of it. No one should be left out as a fan or as characters in film. It is a welcoming community and I think there is a big responsibility to not make people feel excluded or like they don’t belong. If you see someone saying derogatory things about a character because of their race or ethnicity, you can’t stand by silently. This should be a community for everyone and the more the film industry starts to represent that, the better it will be.
NG: What are you top 3 favorites for Science Fiction books, TV shows and movies?
BERRIOS: Ok well for movies Star Wars is number ONE, always and forever. My second favorite movie is Stardust which is more of a fantasy genre, but outside of Star Wars, I really am a fantasy fangirl. Fifth Element comes to mind as well, the movie was just so entertaining to me!
Tv shows- Star Wars the Clone Wars took my breath away. My family and I rewatch episodes weekly. Star Wars Rebels comes in second, go Hera! I love that it is bringing together so many characters from the Star Wars universe. True Blood takes my number 3 spot. I was totally obsessed with the books and the show!
The books question, I honestly have to say that this is more fantasy Genre, but I gobbled the Harry Potter books up. I even have a tattoo!Please don’t make me pick my top 3 I just can’t do it! I have a feeling once I get a chance to read the Ahsoka book, that will definitely be up there in my favorites!
NG: Which Science Fiction characters have had the greatest influence on you?
BERRIOS: Hera Syndulla for her compassion and strength. She is truly a role model for how compassion doesn’t equal weakness. She is selfless and strong. Leia is another strong woman who proves that gender stereotypes mean nothing .
NG: How did you start cosplaying?
BERRIOS: Episodes II & III, I dressed up like Padme for the Midnight premieres. I just wanted to feel completely immersed in the movie and what a better way for me then to cosplay and have fun! I stopped cosplaying for a while, and then when I decided I wanted to start Cosplay For Jedi, I made a Barriss Offee Cosplay. Now I love playing around with different lekku (Twi’lek head tails) and experimenting with different looks.
NG: What prompted you to start Cosplay for Jedi?
BERRIOS: I went to a local comic convention and saw all these amazing artists, happily living their dreams by showcasing their creativity. I always loved creating unique things, but was too apprehensive and scared. I was also having major self esteem and depression issues at the time, and thought this would help bring me out of my shell. I was a stay at home mom for a while, and a lot of moms won’t admit this because of the stigma, but it is NOT for every mom. You still need something for yourself. It worked! I still work a regular job, but I feel so fortunate that my entire family has been so supportive so I can pursue my dreams! And my Padawan has fun going to the local convention every year, and lets me know he is proud of me.
NG: What are some of your best/worst cosplaying experiences?
BERRIOS: I don’t really have a worst honestly, eveyone has been pretty friendly! Also I have a really good stank face if someone seems like they are about to get out of line hahaha. Best is this year, when I got to meet Nalini Khrishan (Barriss Episode II- Attack fo the Clones) dressed as Barriss. I got to moderate her panel along with Jesse Jensen (Saesee Tiin) so it was like, two Barriss’s. It was awesome!
NG: What advice would you have for someone wanting to start cosplaying?
BERRIOS: Be true to yourself and don’t feel bad if you can’t afford in time or money something that would win first place in a contest. It’s cosPLAY, no matter why you do it , for pleasure or work, it should always be FUN. My Barriss cosplay was done on a budget, and sometimes it’s easy to feel like your cosplay isn’t good enough. Confidence is the most important cosplay accessory you can wear. You do what makes you happy. Do it for yourself only, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about your hard work. Sometimes cosplays you put together from Goodwill shopping binges are amazing!
NG: Do you think that Fangirls are an expression of Feminism?
BERRIOS: Yes, because we are equally as excited about it as men. No one’s trying to steal anything from the boys or any of that other nonsense the haters want to spew. We’ve been here all along, and we LOVE that we are feeling represented in BIG ways now in films.
NG: How do you think fangirls can change media industries?
BERRIOS: Keep pushing . When you see women not being taken seriously simply because of their gender, call it out. We don’t want special treatment or representation, we want EQUAL representation. If you read a book or watch a movie that was put out there by a woman and you loved it, let people know!
NG: Thank you so much, Alison! I am certain my readers will be glad to check out your creations.