Do you have an irrational hatred of pants? Is the wait for season 3 of My Hero Academia slowly killing you on the inside? Do you find yourself unable to eat most foods without first slicing them up to consume from the inside out? Well then gather round my friends, because have we ever got the interview for you! But seriously as hilarious as Candylion.cos (Drew) is, she’s also an incredibly talented cosplayer and one of the rising stars within the cosplay community. Not only that but she’s a natural beauty, possesses a remarkably good method for dealing with internet trolls, sports a wonderful attitude towards her career and man is she ever passionate for the world of anime. I was fortunate enough to grab some of the lovely Drew’s time to discuss her passions and how she’s finding her way through the world of professional cosplay.
AiPT!: Tell us a little bit about where you’re from and how you like to spend your time when you aren’t cosplaying.
Drew: My name is Drew and I was born in Southern California where I’ve lived my entire life. I’m 18 years old and I’ve been out of high school since I was 16 and I’ve pretty much been making costumes balls to the walls since I was 13 [laughs]. When I’m not working on cosplay most of my free time is spent binging anime and playing video games.
I recently had a job for a breast lift company where I processed shipments and did some modeling. My boyfriend’s mom helped me get the job, she was my boss at the company and I started off with one day a week. They ended up liking me so much that they hired full-time and asked me to model for stock photos. They were like “Oh you have boobs! Why don’t you do some stock photos for us?” [laughs]
AiPT!: What was your first exposure to cosplay and how did that lead to you wanting to experience it for yourself?
Drew: That’s actually a pretty funny story. I had this friend in middle school who was super into anime and at the time over the summer I was getting really into it myself. So he invited me to an anime expo that a bunch of our mutual friends were attending and I was really excited. As we were talking about setting it up he randomly moved to Canada, so I figured he’d still fly back down and go with us since he was so invested in it. But sadly he didn’t. I was 13 at the time and I ended up going to dinner with a bunch of the kids who were going and their parents. During the meal I brought it up and no one knew that I was going [laughs] since he didn’t tell anyone.
Anyway we all ended up going together and I didn’t know much about cosplay at the time, but I had seen some pictures online and knew that I wanted to make a costume. I ended up making my costume the night before and I went as Tsubaki from Soul Eater. The outfit was all white and the second I got there I split cranberry juice all over myself [laughs]. There were so many great cosplayers there and seeing all the League of Legends cosplays is what really inspired me. It was more than Halloween dressing up to me, it was art.
AiPT!: Is cosplay and modeling a passionate hobby for you? Or is this something you’d like to make a career out of?
Drew: I’m actually trying to turn this into a career for myself right now. I’m in between jobs right now so I figure this is as good a time as any to make a career out of this. I love cosplay, I spend 80% of my time working on it and 100% of my time thinking about it. This wasn’t something I thought could ever be a career for myself until social media opened up a new world for me.
It’s funny because I used to hate having my picture taking. [laughs] If you see any picture of me prior to cosplay and I’ll be scowling into the camera. I did not want to be photographed.
AiPT!: I know that you have a Ko-Fi page set up, are you planning to set up a Patreon page to help with your career?
Drew: I am! I’m actually in the process of setting my page up right now and I hope to have it launched by the end of the month. It’s been a long process to put it together and I’ve had a lot of anxiety around it. It was one of those things where I could see other people doing it, I respect them for doing it and I totally get behind it. But then I picture myself doing it and I don’t feel that, I worry instead.
I never want to feel like I’m taking advantage of a community that’s given me so much. I understand that Patreon is service and goods in exchange for money, that makes perfect sense to me. But when I started cosplaying there was a lot of controversy around Patreon, GoFundMe and cosplayers asking people for money. I guess it got in my head that people would hate you if you asked for money. But I know that’s not the truth of it. People like to support artists, creators and the content and entertainment that they provide.
AiPT!: You’re only 18, you don’t have a Patreon set up yet and yet you’ve already closed in on nearly a hundred thousand Instagram followers, with no signs of slowing down. On top of that you’ve got an agent you’re working with from a marketing group. That’s kind of crazy. What’s that transformation process been like for you?
Drew: I think Geeksmash, the marketing agency, reached out to me when I was at around fifty thousands followers. They told me I had unreasonably high engagement and I shouldn’t be doing PR for companies for free. It was never a goal of mine to monetize something I loved. I started my Instagram account to try and get the cosplayers I looked up to, to notice me and it worked! [laughs] I never expected everything that came with it. The first time I had someone at a convention come up to me and recognize me it completely blew my mind. It wasn’t until that moment that the number under followers translated into something real.
AiPT!: You’ve mentioned how you’ve been recognized by fans at cons, received positive feedback, nice messages and Ko-Fi donations. But what about the unfortunate but inevitable reality of internet trolls, harassment and people who don’t have nice things to say? How do you deal with that?
Drew: Growing up I always had a general apathy for what people thought of me. I would go to school wearing a mustache because it was what I wanted to do and I didn’t care what anyone else thought about it. I think as you get older as a woman in this society you’re always told what not to do. But at the end of the day that only opinion that matters about yourself is your own. Unless those people are friends, family or paying your bills. I’ve had countless amount of people who don’t like the way I like or make costumes and it sucks. I’ll get messages and a lot of the time it’s someone saying something nice but sometimes it’s a person who’s only goal is to bring you down. But you have to remember that’s a reflection of them and not you, if they’re that unhappy with some aspect of their life that they feel the need to bring a stranger on the internet down.
AiPT!: Let’s move on to a very serious topic that I’ve been wanting to ask you about. Tell me about “Pants are an illusion and so is death”.
Drew: [laughs] That’s a quote from one of my favorite series of all time, Avatar: The Last Airbender. That show means the entire world to me. It’s so good! Plus I hate wearing pants with a burning passion.
AiPT!: What would you say your favorite anime is?
Drew: Oh sheesh. That’s a big question. It’s so hard to say because animation is such a diverse medium. There’s so many different genres. I would say for strictly nostalgia reasons Avatar is my favorite show. I love anime so much. I love a lot of shonen anime. There’s a list somewhere of my top 20. I even got into it kind of late, it wasn’t until I was 13 that I started watching. Once you get hooked though you binge it endlessly, which I still do [laughs].
AiPT!: Let’s move on to a topic I know we’re both passionate about. Talk to me about The Last Jedi. Did you love it? Hate it? Is Snoke gone for good? Don’t hold anything back.
Drew: I loved it. I thought it was amazing and I can dispute a lot of the reasons that people tend to dislike it. I think that Sci-Fi fans especially are very resistant to change [laughs]. You’d think that nerds would be more open to change, but no.
So yeah I thought it was a very interesting way to handle the middle film of a trilogy. They killed off the main villain in the second movie, which no one saw coming. I love that Kylo Ren is in charge of The First Order now and it’s opened so many doors that we weren’t even aware of before. I really liked the decision to kill of Snoke and overarching theme of the film to not let failure define you. Kylo Ren is such an interesting character, I love him. His immature and irrational decisions make me laugh, especially when people quote him “kill the past”. This probably isn’t the guy you should be taking life advice from.
AiPT!: What’s a weird quirk, habit or fact about you that most people aren’t aware of?
Drew: There’s a lot of things I can’t eat unless I cut them in half first. Sandwiches and burritos I just can’t eat it from the outside in, I have to eat it from the inside out. [laughs] One of my profile pictures on Facebook for a while was me doing that to a burrito. Everyone hated it. There’s a lot of other stuff, but I don’t want to tell the internet everything.
AiPT!: What’re you most looking forward to this year?
Drew: Oh god. That’s a big question. Season 3 of My Hero Academia and LCS worlds. NA gets closer every year, one day we’ll be able to play head-to-head with the Koreans.