Typically when looking for a cosplayer to interview, I wait until they have around five cosplays under their belt on their social media before reaching out, just to ensure these are cosplayers who know their craft. Well, there are always exceptions to the rules and Charmanda is a prime example of that. She debuted her Raindancer Pharah at PAX and the internet exploded with love for her!
I was also in awe at her and her costume as the photos drowned my pages and even our dear friend Ken of Studio Henshin Photography was able to capture an incredible image of her! So I gathered my courage and contained my excitement then shot off an interview request!
Sure enough, Charmanda was kind enough to accept! I hope you enjoy our interview!
The Geek Lyfe: There may be a few Geek Lyfers who have not seen your work before, would you be alright introducing yourself?
Charmanda: Of course, my online name is Charmanda, I do cosplay and many other things. My name in real life is Amanda, and I got the nickname Charmanda from my uncle when I was a kid. I was obsessed with Pokemon and had a VERY soft spot for Charmander so I was called that since I was 7, fast forward 20 years later and it still sticks.
TGL: How long have you been into cosplay and what led you down this path?
C: I’ve been interested in it for a long time and had only made a few small costumes for Halloween so I haven’t been in the cosplay community for very long. Have been more of a closet cosplayer looking from the outside in. But back in May I finally took the plunge to get fully involved when I decided to make Pharah’s Raindancer skin from Overwatch. From that point on it’s only grown more and more.
TGL: What has been your favorite moment?
C: PAX, it was my first real convention that I cosplayed at, and the reaction I got from people was astounding. So many good things happened from being recognized from my Cosplay senpai (Commander Holly) to being thrown on a Blizzard live stream. So all of PAX at this point was amazing for me.
TGL: What was the worst day for you in your cosplay career, what happened, and how did you deal with it?
C: The first day of PAX. It was my first-day wearing Pharah and it was falling apart within the first two hours. It was so nerve-wracking, but you get enough tape and it eventually holds together. After that, I wrote a whole list of things I had to reinforce for the convention floor. So I gave myself a whole day to rework, reinforce, and repaint the whole set of armor, which was desperately needed.
TGL: When you aren’t doing this, what do you do in your spare time?
C: I art, like ALOT. I’m a bit ADD when it comes to making stuff so I usually fall in and out of hobbies almost weekly. So I can make jewelry or scarves one day for my business. Then the next day I’m doing a let’s play for my youtube channel. So I have my fingers in many pies.
TGL: What geek medium(Video Games, Comic Books, Novels, Movies, etc.) made the biggest impact on your life and why?
C: Video games.
Mostly Bioware has been the greatest impact on my life. The very first game that I became obsessed with was Baldur’s Gate. I read the walkthrough manual all the time when I was a kid, it was my favorite game. But then Dragon Age came into my life and in turn helped me meet my husband. Bioware was such a large part of our life that when we got married our personal wedding theme was Dragon Age.
He was a Templar Inquisitor, and I was Cousland Grey Warden. We love Bioware THAT MUCH.
TGL: Aliens have come to invade earth. You are the world’s final chance to defend against their assault. Which previous costume do you use and take the powers from, to fight against them? Why?
C: I would be Troi.
Being a Betazoid would be SUPER helpful in understanding their intentions, communicating, and convincing them we’re not a threat. That sounds like a very Federation answer now that I think of it. Very prime directive.
TGL: Do you have any projects in the near future we should be excited to see?
C: I am planning on being Kuvira from Legend of Korra for ECCC. Going to reinforce/ rework my Pharah as well for ECCC. Past that, I really want to do Nene from Bubblegum Crisis at some point, that’s a goal for me in the long run.
TGL: What advice do you have for any aspiring cosplayers out there?
C: I don’t want to sound like a meme, but just do it! It’s brilliant fun, it’s a great experience, and it’s a great way to make friends!
Also, cosplay what you love. Don’t be pressured by others into a costume that you don’t want to do. Cosplay is about love and if you don’t love what you make/wear it’ll be obvious. It was super obvious for me after walking in 4-inch heels for 6 hours, all fun drained from my face after 3. The bitchy resting face was turned up to 11.
TGL: Out of the costumes you have done in the past, which one has been the most difficult and why?
C: Pharah will always be the most difficult. Even though she was the most difficult she was the most fun to wear.
Why though? I never made armor before, let alone a helmet, so this was all a first for me. After days of researching how to make foam armor, I took the dive and jumped in. The hardest part is honestly keeping it all together at a convention. Spacial awareness is key when you wear big costumes but being crammed with 75k of people. It’s hard to get the right amount of space for wings.
A huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge thank you to Charmanda for answering a few of our questions! I loved her costume and honestly can not wait to see what other incredible costumes she releases!
Make sure to follow her and everything she does on her Facebook!
Cover by Douglas Bushong
Raindancer images by: Studio Henshin Photography