When you think about hotbeds of cosplay, you probably don’t imagine Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. But that’s exactly where the English-born Miss Chezza found a burgeoning scene when she picked up the hobby several years ago.

AiPT! recently spoke with Miss Chezza about why she loves what she does, as well as how she makes her cosplay unique and different.

AiPT!: Growing up, were you always into nerdy kinds of things?

Miss Chezza: Yeah, I was. I started playing PC computer games when I was about 6 years old, so my dad was a huge gamer. We had an Amiga Commodore computer and a bunch of ripped floppy disk games. That was my first foray into it. Then I started in console gaming when I was in junior high, I think. I was big into the original Playstation, and I had PS2 for a while, then I switched to Xbox and Xbox One.

I’ve always been into comics, [but] probably not as much as gaming, generally. I prefer the indie comics now, so I like … Fables, by Bill Willingham, is my favorite. I’m really into — Scott Pilgrim‘s a Canadian one. I mean, they have the movie, so everyone knows it now. Sex Criminals is a good one, too. I’ve always been into nerdy endeavors, and it’s become a huge part of my life, in many ways.AiPT!: And how did that go for you, growing up in Edmonton? Were there a lot of like-minded kids out there?

Miss Chezza: I actually grew up in England, until I was about 12, and no there weren’t [laughs], in England. When I moved here, people were a bit more open-minded. I was from a village in England, so it wasn’t very diverse. We were one of two Asian families in the village, so it was pretty …

AiPT!: There was more going on than just the nerdy stuff, then?

Miss Chezza: Yeah. When I moved here, I made a lot of friends who were into the same things as me, so we kind of played off each other that way, which is nice.

AiPT!: So what is the scene like in Edmonton now?

Miss Chezza: For nerds or cosplayers?

AiPT!: Yes.

Miss Chezza: [laughs] It’s actually amazing. I kind of joined at the opportune time, because it’s blown up in the last couple years. There have been a whole bunch of cons popping up all over the place, and more and more people are cosplaying, more and more people are celebrating the nerdy interests they have. We have Nerd Nite events, we have tabletop events all the time, we have gaming events like Extra Life, and other ones throughout the city. It’s definitely becoming less of a nerdy culture and more into pop culture … It’s definitely becoming more accepted, which is amazing; especially cosplay, which had a bad stigma for a very long time.AiPT!: So seeing that scene, is that kind of what inspired you to get into cosplay, or did you say, “Hey, I wanna do cosplay,” and then just kind of discovered that all this was there?

Miss Chezza: I had no idea about cosplay before I did it for the first time. I wanted to go to a comic con; I had never been to one. This was a couple years ago. I roped my best friend into coming with me, and I said, “Hey, people dress up for these things, let’s wear costumes.” So I fit her up some steampunk getup and I bought a Silk Spectre II cosplay for myself. [I] wore it to the con and I was terrified because I didn’t know what to expect — I had never done anything like that before — and it was amazing! It was a blast. The people in the community, for cosplay, are extremely accommodating and friendly and open to new people. I immediately found that upon wearing this costume to the convention, and then it kind of just stuck. It was an immediate addiction.

AiPT!: So what do you like about it?

Miss Chezza: I love the inclusivity of it, I love the fact that it’s a way for me to celebrate my fandoms in more than just, you know posting about them on Facebook, or talking about them with friends. It’s a way to embody your passion for the culture and it’s become, very much, a creative outlet for me. I never used to build or sew my own costumes, and I’ve started to do so in the past year and a half. It’s therapeutic and it’s a world with many open doors. I can do anything I want.

AiPT!: You said it’s kind of a creative outlet. You don’t do just standard cosplays. You kind of try to put a twist on things, right?

Miss Chezza: I often try to do mashups for my cosplay. Not all the time. It depends on what kind of mood I’m in, and if I’m inspired, but I do like to “steampunk-up” a character. I did a Playboy bunny version of Rogue from X-Men. I made an armored Chun-Li from “Street Fighter.” I see other cosplayers doing a bunch of different things, and you get inspiration from many different channels, and putting your own spin on a cosplay makes it extra special. Those are generally the one that stand out to people and that have resonated with some of my fans.

AiPT!: Would you say you have a favorite one? Can you pick?

Miss Chezza: People always ask me that! If I had to pick a favorite, I think I’d have to go with Bunny Rogue, simply because I made almost everything on that outfit from scratch. I sewed the bodysuit, I sewed the boot covers, I made the ears, and it turned out a lot better than I was expecting, so I’m still proud of that one to this day.

AiPT!: What have you got coming up?

Miss Chezza: I am just finishing up a female Sith Lord costume, which I’m planning on wearing to Calgary Expo at the the end of April. Then I need to start working on my Psylocke, from [X-Men:] Apocalypse. I’m making Olivia Munn’s version.

For more of Miss Chezza, follow her on Instagram, or see her in person at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, the weekend of April 29!