Alodia Gosiengfiao: Playing dress up for a living
Professional cosplayer Alodia Gosiengfiao is considered one of the best in the world, and she's here in Dubai for the 2016 Middle East Film and Comic Con
It's easy to get lost in the world of comic characters and superheroes. There's something fascinating about watching a person with sup-erhuman abilities save the world time and time again. But while everyone got obsessed with watching their favourite characters on screen, they didn't notice that a whole new movement was stepping into a limelight - bringing characters to life via cosplay.
A contraction of the words "costume" and "play", cosplay first grew as a trend in Japan during the 1990s, initially popular for manga and anime characters. People paid tribute to their favourite characters by dressing up like them. Even though it started as a hobby for many, cosplay has certainly picked up and is now an important part of pop culture. No comic convention is complete it. And there are some who have not just managed to make a living out of dressing up, they're actually celebrities in their own right.
Filipino cosplayer Alodia Gosiengfiao is one such, widely considered among the best in the world. The beauty, who has dressed as over 75 different characters to date, is stopping by Dubai for the 2016 Middle East and Film Comic Con and fans are pretty excited. Having started cosplaying in 2003, aged just 15 years, Alodia soon rose to popularity after being placed third in the C3 Convention, which got her featured on the cover of a manga magazine in the Philippines. However, this wasn't her first choice of a career. "I wanted to be a doctor because I have so many relatives who are doctors," Alodia laughs. "And later, while growing up, I wanted to be a videogame character concept artist since I really loved drawing."
So what really led her down the path to becoming a professional cosplayer? Well, it was her love for videogames. "I fell in love with all those characters. I wanted to be those characters, and the best thing about cosplay is that the transformation is both in appearance and in sentiment."
She's not wrong. It may seem like a game of dress up, but cosplay isn't just about creating and donning a complicated costume and looking fierce - it's a performance art as well. True professionals don't just dress like their characters, but imitate their complex personalities - and that's what makes it a whole lot of fun. Alodia agrees. "For me, cosplay is a combination of all my different hobbies - art, craft, makeup, etc. It exercises my creativity, because I have to think about how to produce something and transform myself into a completely different person. It is so very exciting."
With her talent, Alodia has been named by UNOMagazine as one of the Most Influential Women in Philippines and is most famous for dressing like characters from G.I. Joe, Evangelion, Witchblade and Final Fantasy. Such is her popularity that, in 2010, she attended the San Diego Comic Con and landed a role in the San Diego Comic Con documentary, directed by Morgan Spurlock, which brought together several comic enthusiasts, including Stan Lee - the father of all Marvel Comics. "I still can't believe cosplay brought me closer to these legendary people!" gushed Alodia.
When she's not cosplaying, Alodia has quite the busy life. Not only does she do a spot of modelling and endorses a number of products that range from beauty to food, she's also a TV presenter on the side. For now, however, Alodia's urging others to let loose sometimes and indulge in a little dressing up. "If you're thinking of going in costume, be sure to research your character beforehand and start with the ones who have easier outfits. When you're ready, you can try on more challenging ones. But most importantly, have fun with it. It's not everyday that you get to be another person."