Lindsey Lopez had a life changing experience this summer when she won the World Cosplay Summit Preliminaries in Los Angeles with her cosplay partner Megan Tubridy. By winning the L.A. Preliminaries, Lopez and Tubridy had the privilege of representing the United States at the World Cosplay Summit in Nagoya, Japan. Lopez, an opera student from Southern Utah University, used her knowledge of performing and costume design to excel above the rest of the competition.
The World Cosplay Summit in Japan is an annual international cosplay event that promotes friendly international exchange through Japanese pop culture. 33 countries participated this year with two individuals representing each nation. In order to win a coveted spot, each country holds preliminary events. The United States’ preliminaries took place at Anime Expo in Los Angeles on July 4.
Roughly six weeks before the L.A. event, Lopez received a call from Tubridy, a fellow cosplay fan, and they started discussing the possibility of entering the competition.
“We didn’t have a lot of time, but it sounded fun,” said Lopez. “I decided to not get my hopes up and just enjoy the experience in Los Angeles.”
For their cosplay, Lopez and Tubridy chose to recreate characters from the Japanese graphic novel Black Butler. Black Butler is a retelling of Faust, a German legend. The main character in the novel, Ciel Phantomhive, sells his soul to a demon named Sebastian for his help seeking revenge. Sebastian acts as Ciel’s butler, and they carry out various missions from Queen Victoria.
Tubridy cosplayed Ciel and Lopez cosplayed the Undertaker, a mysterious man who shows up every now and then in the story to cause mayhem for Ciel. No one knows his real identity or his role in the ongoing novel.
Lopez hand stitched leather boots, made lace, pressed fabric, hemmed and created every inch of her costume from the veiled hat to each layer of wool. Her goal was to make the character as historically accurate as possible.
“I love the challenge of creating a cosplay,” explained Lopez. “You take a 2D image and make it live and breathe. I don’t make cosplays I create characters.”
With barely more than a month to prepare a detailed costume, skit and props stress was running high for both women. Since they live in separate states, they had to travel whenever possible to rehearse their skit and make sure everything would come together on time.
Doubting she’d be able to finish in time, Lopez spent every spare moment on her costumes and relied on the support of her SUU professors to get her through. Many of them, particularly her opera professor Carol Ann Modesitt, cheered her on through the entire journey.
“I’m blessed by the support of my professors who helped me prepare for this competition,” said Lopez. “They care about my extracurricular activities in addition to my academic success.”
When the day of the preliminary competition arrived they still were still adding last-minute details to the costumes. Due to a mix-up at Anime Expo they were late to their judging, and Lopez was worried they’d be disqualified. Thankfully, they weren’t the only team that was late, and they were still allowed to compete and became Team USA.
“When they announced the winners I was thrilled,” said Lopez. “I participated in other competitions before and my talent and hard work weren’t recognized. I felt so validated and knew all my hard work had paid off.”
A few weeks later they headed to Japan, all expenses paid, with several past USA teams as their guides. They had to bring two other costumes to wear for parades and media interviews, as well as small gifts for the competitors from other countries.
“Going to Japan has always been my dream,” explained Lopez, an avid fan of Japanese culture and novels. “I was able to visit an ancient sacred shrine, wear traditional clothes and immerse myself in the culture.”
Although Team USA didn’t place in the top three at the competition, Lopez was grateful for the opportunity to travel to Japan, meet people from around the world with similar interests and make new friends.
In the future, Lopez hopes to find a way to combine her love of opera and costuming. She wants to pursue a master's degree in music or costume construction. For now, she is continuing her education at SUU and plans to graduate with a degree in opera in May, 2018.
“SUU isn’t a school it’s a home,” said Lopez. “I am not a number or a statistic at SUU, I’m a person who belongs here.”