Name: Delaena R. Uses Knife
Years of Cosplay: 3
Tribe: Cheyenne River Sioux
Location: Rapid City, South Dakota
Delaena R. Uses Knife is a citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux and currently working on earning her degree in Chemistry. She has a natural propensity for the sciences, which is why it is no surprise to learn that she was named a NASA Student Ambassador. But in addition to promoting and representing natives in STEM fields, Delaena is also very artistic. She’s an accomplished hoop dancer, a mixed media artist, a former model/designer, and a pretty awesome cosplayer.
Cosplaying is a time-honored tradition in geek culture. It allows you to step outside of yourself; to test and push the boundaries of your creativity; and showcase your love for the characters that you choose to become. We are proud to present Delaena as our May Cosplayer of the Month.
[divider]How long have you been cosplaying?[/divider]
I started cosplaying in 2014 and attended a nerd convention called SoDak Con in Rapid City. I had never attended a comic convention before then because South Dakota is limited to such events.
[divider]How did you get into Cosplaying?[/divider]
It started in 204, I heard about an upcoming local convention in SD. It became a personal mission to hand make the Skyrim’s character Nightingale. I used my beadwork thread, faux black leather, and hard felt to create the mask. My father and I made the nightingale bow. Anything else, like the armor was made from scratch and hand sewn together.
The day of the convention, I stayed up all night fixing the last-minute details. I entered my costume into the intermediate category. Some of costumes were very impressive and I didn’t know if I had a chance of winning. My work paid off because the judges announced my name; I stood in front of 300 people as the intermediate award winner. From the moment on, I’ve challenged myself to do more complex art work and improve daily.
[divider]Homemade Cosplay or Bought/Commissioned Cosplay?[/divider]
I love homemade cosplay. Every piece challenges you as an artist and architect because you’re engineering the costume to fit your body.
[divider]What was the last convention you attended in cosplay?[/divider]
The last convention was wizard world Cleveland, Ohio. It was a bucket list dream come true. I met my favorite power ranger, Jason David Frank. He also gave expensive merchandise to native students to inspire them to stay in school.
[divider]What is cosplay to you?[/divider]
My perspective. Cosplay is diversity and it gives you a chance to explore the imagination It’s more than a costume. You feel like you’re a part of that universe whether it’s Batman, Fall Out, or your favorite Hollywood icon.
[divider]When you’re cosplaying, are you You or the character?[/divider]
If I’m competing in Wizard World Comic Con for the master class category, the judges require the character to be on point and the costume to be perfect. In those circumstances, I think it’s necessary to act like the character. They look for details, design, acting, and your own signature as an artist.
[divider]When do you find yourself cosplaying?[/divider]
When I’m inspired by a character or I want to challenge myself as an artist. If there’s a need for characters to greet kids at hospitals, parks, or local event. I attend such events to bring smiles. You would be surprised by how many more adults love Power Rangers than little kids. I’m working on the Ant-Man helmet, a female predator, and the Green Ranger suit. I love it.
I made a White Ranger costume. I wore it different events, too. My mother asked me to surprise her 3rd grade classroom for their Valentine’s Day party. This elementary school is located 2 hours away on the reservation. It was the least expected place to see a Power Ranger. When I arrived there, you should have seen the happy faces on these native kids. I told my mother, this is why I do this.
[divider]When it comes to cosplaying, do you add native flair to your characters?[/divider]
I’m careful to keep regalia and costumes separate because of mascot debate. The only time I felt inspired to include native flair is the masquerade royalty contest. I made this felt mask and started beading a Victorian design on it. I knew nobody would have the same mask. I, also, designed the ball gown and gold corset.
[divider]Are you into comics and gaming? [/divider]
I’m into the Ant-Man, Green Lantern, and Batman comics. I’m not into gaming as much, but if I see a character I like it does inspire me to create the character.
[divider]What does indigenerdity mean to you?[/divider]
Wow, I never heard of this term before. I like it! Indigenerdity. Indigenous, generation, and nerdy? That sums everything in my life as an artist, inventor, hoop dancer, singer, and a NASA scholar.
[divider]Is cosplay something that you see yourself still doing in 10 years?[/divider]
In 10 years, I can see myself owning an art studio and working for Hollywood. I love making costumes and helping other people realize their artistic potential.
[divider] What are some of the challenges that you face as a native cosplayer?[/divider]
Racism, criticism, and lack of knowledge. Those that don’t understand it will be afraid of it. But I just reflect on the words of Vincent Van Gogh, “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you can’t paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”