Cosplayer Camaree Settles is attending the 2nd annual Queen City Black Comix Day on June 25! We talked to Settles about her love of costuming and what being a black cosplayer means to her.
Midwest BSFA: How did you get into cosplay?
Settles: I first got into cosplay through one of my best friends. She had started going to conventions when she was in the 7th grade and she took me to my first one when we were in the 9th grade. I had a blast. It was a small convention, but the amount of people that showed me love was amazing.
Midwest BSFA: How long have you been doing it?
Settles: I have been cosplaying for a little over six years, but a year ago, I decided to take cosplaying more seriously.
Midwest BSFA: What was your first cosplay and why?
Settles: My first cosplay was Sakura from Naruto. At the time, she was my favorite character in that anime.
Midwest BSFA: What’s your favorite cosplay and why?
Settles: I would have to say that my favorite cosplay is my Princess Kida. She is my all-time favorite Disney princess and it was so awesome bringing her to life. She’s powerful and headstrong, and when I cosplay as her, I feel like I embody that character really well.
Midwest BSFA: You’re attending Queen City Black Comix Day to talk about “cosplaying while black.” What does that phrase mean to you? What does it represent?
Settles: That phrase means to me that anyone can cosplay. Cosplaying is not just meant for one group of people, but for anyone who wants to participate. When I think of cosplaying while black I think of diversity, inclusion, strength, unity, positivity, etc. This phrase represents my responsibility in the cosplay community to show that you do not have look exactly like a character to cosplay them, and this whole hobby is about having fun.
Midwest BSFA: We hear about people of color getting harassed online about cosplaying outside of their races all the time. Has anyone ever said something negative *to your face* about you being a black cosplayer?
Settles: Unfortunately, they have. Sometimes at conventions I will be walking around and get called the black [insert character name] by numerous people. When that happens, I tell those people to not call me that.
Midwest BSFA: Despite that nonsense, what do you tell other black people who want to cosplay but don’t (for whatever reason)?
Settles: I tell them that cosplaying is about having fun. Yes there are people out there whose sole purpose is to be negative and point out every flaw, but that is only a small percentage of the community. There truly is so much love and support to be found form so many in the community. Do not focus on the negativity that you might receive, because at the end of the day you are doing something that you truly love, and no one can take that away form you.
Midwest BSFA: What drives you to continue participating?
Settles: My love of cosplaying, my friends, and the support that I have bene able to find.
Check out some of Settles’ cosplays on her Instagram feed! And don’t forget to come check us out on June 25! Noon to 4 p.m., Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County, 2802 Vine St., Corryville (Cincinnati, OH 45219). The cosplay panel will take place from 1 to 2:30 p.m.