Hi, I’m Ezzi Jude, a 22-year-old cosplayer obsessed with creating anime-inspired outfits. A fun fact about me is that  K-dramas used to have me in a chokehold, and up to 2021 I covered K-pop choreographies. I founded a Korean community for Nigerians out of my love for all things Korean and even became an honorary reporter.

“Used to be” a die-hard fan? How did that, unfortunately, happen to you? 

Okay, so I’m still a fan. Okay, so I watch K-dramas sometimes, I just don’t complete them, so I can’t call myself a fan. I still love korean culture though, that’s why I started my Korean lovers community, other than me feeling like people didn’t know enough about Korean culture please!  And it’s a group of over 700 people. I’m a fan of the culture, but right now I can’t focus on one K-drama at a time. 

You know what? Fair. What’s it like being a Korean honorary reporter?

Well, it is unpaid work, but if your article does well, you may be invited to Korea, and there are occasional gifts such as snacks and rice cookers. I applied to Talk Korea to be an honorary reporter and  It was a fairly simple procedure. I filled out a form and sent them links to a bunch of my TikToks where I’d already been covering a lot of Korean content, and I got in. Honorary reporters write at least six articles per year. It sounds small but it required lots of research.   I quickly became bored and quit because I am not a writer and it was difficult. But, to be honest, I applied to build my portfolio for a Korean scholarship program. 

Just six? Wow. Liking K-dramas is a long way from cosplaying. What influenced your interest?

After I stopped writing , on some random day,  I saw an advert online for a comic con in Port-Harcourt and decided to create a free promotional video for them. 

 I’d only seen the new generation anime like Demon Slayer because everyone told me the old ones can be boring. But,I was hyped and I wanted a lot of people to know about the event and I figured that I could go in cosplay.  I wanted to  cosplay a character I knew, so I prepared for my Azula costume. But then, I saw an Ankara pattern that looked like water prints, which gave me the idea to make the water bender costume I wore  in the  promo video. After that went out, someone reached out to me and asked if I’d like to join a Nigerian cosplay community. The deal was I had to have done at least two cosplays so they’d know you’re serious. It’s a good thing I was already working on my Azula cosplay.

Don’t mind them. Watch the older anime, they’re really good. How big is this cosplay community?

Back then, we were about 12. Now, we’re 17. They always add new people, but cosplaying is expensive so people leave a lot. Some members even left because their families disapproved of it. Some were medical students, and their parents wanted them to be more focused. I don’t get why people always react badly to innocent pastimes. 

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Omo, that must suck. How did your family react to your cosplay?

I think they are cool with it because I used to cover K-pop choreography before I started cosplaying. I made so many covers, and one time Jennie from Black Pink reacted to one of my videos, which had 11k views. But I twisted my ankle dancing to the choreography of Stray Kid’s God Menu, and my mum made me promise to only dance with a knee brace. She’s supportive in little ways like that. My dad just minds his business. They like that I’m happy and hope my obsession with cosplaying and Korean things works out for me.

If it wasn’t cosplaying, what would you have gotten into?

I’d just always create things. I used to paint a lot till I clocked 19. I stopped because I had to pay attention in school. Plus, it cost a lot to buy the things I needed to paint, and the money I had wasn’t enough for it. 

Is cosplaying cheaper than painting? 

It is cheaper, tbh. I’m a style influencer for an Asian costume brand, so I apply to them when I want to cosplay, and they  are supposed to give me the costumes. But I’ve only successfully gotten two from them. I made the other 13 myself. 

What’s your favourite and least-favourite cosplay?

Okay, so I spent a lot of money and time on my Azula cosplay because it needed to be detailed to give it that “oomph”. The tiny details cost a lot too — I only wanted small bits of each item sold at retail price — only for it to be my least favourite cosplay. Meanwhile, the cheapest one was my mushroom hat cosplay. But I made it by myself and it’s my favourite one so far. 

What’s the longest time you’ve spent on a costume?

If I have all my materials, I can finish in a week. If not, it takes up to a month. For example, my Azula costume took me a month to create, and I didn’t even like it. I didn’t like being called Azula after that; that babe is wicked.

I am dying, please. Do you think you’d create cosplays to sell in the future?

Maybe, all I know is that I ‌want to be an official costume designer someday. I don’t want to create original pieces. I want to recreate things people have already made. That’s what I’m good at. There’s a comic con event in September [2022], and some creators reached out to ask if I could help ‌ with their costumes. I’m excited about working on that. 

I fantasise about making costumes for cosplayers and celebrities on a big scale, like Kamui Cosplay does. She uses technology like led lights to make some of her cosplays glow in the dark, and I love it. That’s the future I see for myself, but… baby steps. 

Speaking of the future, have you found fulfilment in cosplaying? 

I’ve had former friends tell me to use my following for regular brand influencing, whatever that is, but that’s not me. They don’t understand my audience is not as big as they think. People follow me because I’m creative, but they’re not really interested in me. They follow for free tips on how I make my costumes. Not everyone is anticipating my next cosplay. 

My satisfaction comes first. I pick challenging cosplays to impress myself. I do what makes me happy, hoping to find an audience interested in it too. I’d only stop if it stopped making me happy, but creating will always make me happy. So, of course I feel fulfilled. I’m always creating. 

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