Expression of fandom varies from person to person. Wearing apparel, drawing fanart, and writing fanfiction are a few ways of showing one’s passion for a fandom. For me, expression of fandom typically falls into the cosplay category. For those that don’t know, cosplay (costume play) is when an individual dresses as a character from a movie, television series, video game, or other media.
Star Wars has a vibrant and active cosplay community. Fans not only attend conventions dressed as their favorite characters from a galaxy far, far away, they also do charity work. The 501st Legion, Rebel Legion, Mandalorian Mercenaries, The Dark Alliance, The Dark Empire, and Jedi Assembly are all costuming groups based on Star Wars that give back to their communities. Hospital and library visits, walks for various causes, and raising money for assorted charities are just some of what these costuming groups do to give back to their communities.
I am a new member to the 501st, and I just completed my first troop last weekend. Joining the 501st became a dream of mine about a year ago. I have been dabbling in cosplay since 2008, but I didn’t get serious about improving my costume quality until late 2012. After getting a few [at the time] ambitious projects under my belt I started wanting something more out of cosplay. I wanted to start giving back.
Being born in the 90s, I had always known about Star Wars. I watched bits and pieces of the movies growing up, but I had never sat down and watched them start to finish. Several years ago, I began dating a boy from my high school who was (and is) utterly obsessed with Star Wars. He introduced me to the Expanded Universe (EU) and that’s when my love of Star Wars really started to flourish. I finally watched all the movies start to finish so I could begin reading the books.
As with every fandom I enter, I find myself immediately latched onto one character. In the case of the Star Wars EU, it was Mara Jade. I knew I had to cosplay as her. After gaining some confidence in my creative abilities, I tackled the project. I used the 501st Legion standards as guidelines so I could not only express my love for Mara, but also aspire to join the organization. I completed Mara and a few months later I was accepted as an official member of the 501st.
Needless to say, I was happy. Being able to cosplay from Star Wars and give back to my community simultaneously is a wonderful opportunity. The Star Wars cosplay community in general is full of wonderful people, as is the fandom.
When we got the announcement that there was a new Star Wars television series in the works, the community found itself in a flurry of excitement. Fans came together to discuss and speculate, and eagerly await any announcement regarding the show. As information came to light, and character designs revealed, so awakened the cosplayers.
In the past 6 months, we’ve seen several cosplays from Star Wars Rebels pop up on the internet- before the show has even premiered! The Mandalorian Mercenaries and Rebel Legion have both accepted their first Sabine Wren cosplayers in the past couple of months.
Star Wars cosplayers, like all members of fandom, are extremely passionate about their love of the series. I am currently working on a Sabine Wren cosplay myself. In finishing her I hope to become a Mandalorian Mercenary and Rebel Legion member. Cosplay is what I bring to the fandom table, and how I give back to my fellow Star Wars fans. I look forward to being the cosplay correspondent to Rebels Report and watching the cosplay community within the fandom grow and flourish with the new series.