Yaya Han vs Jessica Nigri - Battle of the Cosplay titans in Heroes of Cosplay
by Art Andrews,
“The content that Jessica Nigri puts out, really displays cosplay in the wrong light.” – Yaya Han
The second episode of SyFy’s Heroes of Cosplay does the already highly criticized series no favors by quickly devolving from painfully manufactured “drama” in the first episode to cringe-inducing pettiness and soapbox grandstanding in this episode. There are some really cool aspects to Episode 2 of HoC:
• Ricki meeting Jose Fernandez of Ironhead Studio
• Chloe Dystra’s Beetle Juice sandworm built by Jessica Merizan and Holly Conrad
However, these moments are vastly overshadowed by a very open and direct attack by the Ambassador of Cosplay,Yaya Han, on famous cosplayer, Jessica Nigri (who turned down an offer to be a part of the show).
I have known Yaya for more than a decade and she is one of the first people I knew who turned her passion for costuming into a career. She marketed herself before cosplay was popular and largely, without the aid of social media. Yaya has had to grind it out, but has made quite the name for herself in the anime and cosplay world. On the show, she is dubbed the “Queen of Cosplay” and gives herself the title of Cosplay’s “Ambassador.” As much as I love her and respect what she has created for herself through a lot of hard work, this is NOT how ambassadors act, especially not on national television.
For anyone who has been living under a rock for the past year or so, Jessica Nigri exploded onto the cosplay scene by winning IGN’s costume contest for Lollipop Chainsaw. In fairness, she has been around for a few years longer than that, but in terms of the costuming community as a whole, Jessica has been here for one hot minute… but man.. how hot that minute has been! Leveraging social media, Jessica has become THE face of cosplay overnight and now has almost half a million fans on Facebook (Yaya has just over 150k). Even if one doesn’t agree with the way another member of the hobby promotes themselves (and Jessica is a hotly debated topic in the costuming world) the way in which this episode was handled undermines the efforts of all the “heroes” and smacks of jealousy.
The saddest note is that this is the dark underbelly of our community (it exists in virtually every community) and the very worst of what we have to offer, and yet it is being played out on national television for all the would-be costumers, prop makers, and movie lovers to see and steer clear of. This breaks my heart as I really hoped this show would bring attention to the hobby in a way that would make people WANT to be a part of it, but I fear that the only reason they will now be watching is for the inevitable train wreck of hot nerdy girl on nerdy girl cat fighting.
Queen? Ambassador? Hero? Hardly… but hey, there was an RPF shirt on there! ;)