Image by Jeroen Weimar Photography
By Andrew Horan
Cosplayer Yaya Han says that her upcoming appearance at Fan Expo will be all about her fans.
Han is only at the event for two days, September 3 and 4, and her focus will be on her fans.
“I’m there for the attendees, I’m there for the convention,” Han says. “You have to decide what’s your priority because you don’t have that much time. So my priority is I want to do a panel and share my thoughts, and I want to be there for the attendees and speak to them and if they have any questions, I want to be able answer them.”
“I’m probably most excited to see all of the cosplayers that are going to be there,” she added.
Her first appearance at Fan Expo last year was a long time coming. She says she had wanted to attend the event for a decade but it took place the same week as Dragoncon, her hometown of Atlanta’s major fantasy and sci-fi convention.
When Fan Expo’s organizers approached her about attending 2014’s event, she figured out a compromise.
“When they asked me to come out last year, I was like, ‘Is it OK if I come for two days? I want to be part of it!'” Han says.
Even though she didn’t get to see as much of the con as she had hoped to since she was only there for a couple days, she was impressed with how well organized it was. But, she said the true highlight were the cosplayers who came to her table and showed off their costumes.
“I think that’s the most rewarding thing now; the cosplayers will come and show me their costumes, I don’t have to creep on them anymore like I used to!” she says, laughing.
“In Canada it seems like no matter where I go, you see a huge variety and usually everybody has a very, very cool, high level of craftsmanship,” Han says.
Cosplaying has grown considerably since Han first started attending cons in 1999. It’s developed from a small community to the point where often, cosplayers are the main attractions in addition to the celebrity guests.
Fan Expo’s 2015 celebrity cosplayer list also includes Kristen Hughey, Ireland Reid, Meg Turney and Leeanna Vamp. The Canadian cosplay contingent will also be well represented by Candy Cosplay, Lee Scion, http://geekingorgeous.com, Toronto Batman and more.
Han readily admits that she didn’t foresee cosplay exploding the way it did and admits that it’s still strange for her. But, she is beginning to accept that she has a voice within the community and wants to use it to influence the next generation of cosplayers.
When she first started out, it was a small, insular community that struggled for acceptance. Now, it has grown to the point where there are TV shows about cosplayers (Heroes of Cosplay) and they are top-billed guests at events like Fan Expo.
“I think it brings a sense of responsibility,” Han says “If you have a following in cosplay you should understand that you’re no longer just doing it for yourself. There are people looking at you and seeing you as a role model and so I think for me, it’s very important to make sure that people understand there was a whole long history of things that I had to do to get where I am and that it wasn’t premeditated.”
She emphasizes it’s important that aspiring cosplayers realize that they don’t have to look like a supermodel or have a degree in Fashion Design to get into cosplay.
“You can get into cosplay in any form that you want to that makes you happy and it’s very important to still do it for that personal enjoyment,” Han says.
With events like Fan Expo and San Diego Comic Con bringing in thousands of guest every year, it would seem that geeks are taking over, a sentiment that Han shares when speaking about some of the things she’s excited about; such as the upcoming Uncharted and Final Fantasy video games as well as the forthcoming Star Wars movie.
“It’s really exciting to live in an age where we geeks are taking over and it is finally so accepted to be a fan of something instead of feeling guilty about it or feeling like an outcast or uncool,” Han says.
The geeks will take over the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto from September 3 to 6 for Fan Expo 2015. The event will welcome a variety of guests from the worlds of science fiction, horror, comic books and more.
Some of the big names attending include Captain America/Agent Carter star Hayley Atwell, Gillian Anderson (X-Files) and Once Upon a Time‘s Jennifer Morrison. The event will also see a reunion of the stars of the Harry Potter movies including Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), James and Oliver Phelps (The Weasley Twins) and Bonnie Wright.
Fan Expo will commemorate the 20th anniversary of Star Trek: Voyager with a reunion of stars Kate Mulgrew, Jeri Ryan, Robert Picardo and Ethan Phillips.
Cast members, both current and former, from The Walking Dead and Doctor Who are also slated to make appearances as well.
Horror legend George Romero will be in attendance as well as famed “tough guy” actor Danny Trejo.
The guest line-up also includes a variety of comic book artists and voice over actors. For more information, as well as ticket prices, head to Fan Expo’s website.