I still remember when I was a wee lad of 22, the year was 2012 and I had just discovered the world of cosplay. I, as many others did, stumbled across the titans of cosplay first, one of them was none other than the wonderful Monika Lee! I was in such awe when I looked upon her Little Sister cosplay for the very first time. The amount of talent and beauty she poured into her craft was immense, the only option after seeing it was to become a fan!
I’ve followed her since then and have been taken aback time and again by every new cosplay she releases that trumps the last. Not to mention she was a key figure on SyFy’s Heroes of Cosplay, a show where new and veteran cosplayers are followed around as they travel to conventions and put together costumes. Despite my huge love for Monika Lee, I always seem to get star struck whenever I see her at conventions and miss my chance to meet her in person! I was excited that she accepted our interview request and got back to me to fast, I loved her answers to our questions and I’m certain you will as well!
Without further ado, here is our interview with Monika Lee:
The Geek Lyfe: Although I have been a fan of yours for quite some time, there may be a few Geek Lyfers who have not seen your work before, would you be alright introducing yourself?
Monika Lee: Hey everyone! I’m Monika Lee, I’ve been cosplaying for about 10 years now and I’m based out of Atlanta, GA. I pretty much love making costumes and playing video games and eating food, haha. Through cosplay, I’ve done a TV show on SyFy and I managed to snag 2 internships at Blizzard Entertainment. When I don’t cosplay, I’m a student at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
TGL: How long have you been into cosplay and what led you down this path?
ML: I started cosplaying in 2006 because I was really into anime and geek culture in general. I discovered the cosplay community through hours of creeping online and watching anime. I fell in love with the idea of dressing up and hanging out with friends and being nerds and I’ve just loved doing it ever since. It’s kind of my version of a nerdy prom, except instead of a prom dress, I wear a costume.
TGL: What has been your favorite moment?
ML: As of now, probably the people I’ve met and places I get to go. I’m extremely fortunate to have been invited to several conventions across the world and I’m currently in New Zealand for a show called Armageddon Expo. I can’t fathom that because I make costumes and dress up like fictional characters, I get to go across the world and meet so many amazing people. If anything, it just reminds me how amazing this hobby is that cosplay really transcends languages and cultures.
TGL: Most frustrating?
ML: Most frustrating is definitely related to the craft itself. I’m sure if you ask any cosplayer, they’ve had several costume parts they’ve had to redo/repair or obstacles that have just seemed impossible to overcome. That tends to be the most rewarding part about cosplay, though, is that overcoming any difficulties can make you really proud of what you’ve created.
TGL: When you aren’t doing this, what do you two do in your spare time?
ML: In my “spare” time, I’m a student majoring in Industrial Design at Georgia Tech. It’s part of the reason why I’m so grateful to this hobby because doing cons helps pay for my tuition and education. When I’m not dying from school though, I love to cook and play games.
TGL: What geek medium(Video Games, Comic Books, Novels, Movies etc.) made the biggest impact on your life and why?
ML: I’d say earlier on starting cosplay, it was anime. I grew up with Sailor Moon, but anime was still so foreign and magical to me and that mysticism really drove me to wanting to dress up like characters in these fantastical worlds. As of now though, definitely video games. I plan on going into the industry to work in consumer products and I have a really strong passion for the community and games themselves. Video games are what motivate me to continue cosplaying and dressing up as characters.
TGL: You have the chance to bring one fictional character(Video Games, Comic Books, Novels, Movies etc.) from any universe into our world and they would become your best friend for life. Who is it and why?
ML: I’d probably say Queen of Blades (Kerrigan) from Starcraft 2 so that I can ride zerglings and rule the world.
TGL: Which costume has been the most difficult to wear yet you love having worn it?
ML: Most difficult to wear is hands down my Demon Hunter. It’s frustrating because armor like that is not comfortable and not meant to be worn leisurely at a con. In addition to that, the character has 4” heels and the white out contacts, so I’m fairly immobile. The most frustrating thing, though, is the amount of work that I put into it and I really can only wear it for a few hours max. That being said, I feel like an absolute badass monster in that costume and I learned so much from the process.
TGL: Do you have any projects in the near future we should be excited to see?
ML: Nothing super exciting, the past year has been quite light cosplay-wise because I’ve been focusing on school and doing cons. However, I definitely have a few things planned and we’ll see how they go this year!
TGL: What advice do you have for any aspiring cosplayers out there?
ML: I always tell aspiring cosplayers (those who haven’t cosplayed) to just do it! You can talk about it, but nothing like the actual experience of cosplaying can show you how exhilarating it is. And cosplay with friends if you can get the chance! Sharing the experience with friends can be really uplifting and helps create great memories.
I’d like to give a very very huge shout out to Monika Lee for taking the time to answer a few of our humble questions! If someone asked me years ago that I’d be interviewing Monika, I would have thought them a crazy person but it happened and it was awesome! She let me know that she actually answered our questions in between flights. She traveled all day long and still was so incredible and kind with her answers. You definitely have to respect her for how hard she works at cosplaying, traveling, interacting with fans, and still being her own person outside of cosplay and I want to let her know that we seriously appreciate it! Please please please go and check out her page on facebook and give her all the love!