A few weeks ago, we were able to connect with Cosplayer Lisa Lake. Earlier this year, Lisa had the opportunity to be a part of a film titled, Duty Calls, at The Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA.
Atlanta Film and TV: Could you tell us about who you are and what you do, and how you got your start in Cosplay?
Lisa Lake: I am a mother, wife, and Executive Director for a disability non-profit organization, Telic Empowerment. I am also a cosplayer and started cosplaying after attending DragonCon for many years. My husband and I would go to Dragon Con every year and never considered cosplaying or dressing up but loved to see the intricate costumes, unique characters, and costume designs. In 2019, one of my friends asked me to join a cosplay group, which was amazing! That was when I decided I would continue cosplaying because it’s an opportunity to be creative, escape my everyday life and do something enjoyable.
Atlanta Film and TV: Who are some of your favorite character’s that you Cosplayed?
Lisa Lake: I am a fan of Star Trek and love to cosplay the Captain of Star Trek Discovery, Michael Burnham. I also love doing my own rendition of characters and making them my own. I love cosplaying ethnic versions of Disney Princesses, and my favorite ones I have done so far are Snow White and Moana. I also like cosplaying characters I can relate to, and there’s something about them that I like and feel strongly about or have a connection to. For example, Storm from Marvel and the X-Men are strong characters that are relatable and powerful. I am, however, always looking for new characters to cosplay as well.
Atlanta Film and TV: You are very passionate about cosplay? Can you share what brings on that passion?
Lisa Lake: Cosplay gives me an outlet to be creative. It also gives me an outlet to express myself in many ways. I am a mother. I work at a Pediatric Neurology clinic and am the co-founder and Executive Director of a non-profit. I love all those jobs. But, they contain a lot of things I have to do that are professional. Cosplaying is an outlet. You realize you are continuously working and don’t realize the pieces of yourself you cannot tap into when you’re working a job. When I had the opportunity to cosplay, it opened the door to creativity, including costume design. There are a lot of components to creating a costume you never recognized until you make wigs. Or when you put together colors and fabric and sew. Then, there is the research aspect and a level of acting when you are putting together pieces for a costume because you want to embody a character you see on tv, in a movie, cartoon, or video game. Being able to dive in and do something is exciting because there is nothing like cosplaying!
Atlanta Film and TV: Share with us about some of the events you’ve participated in as a Cosplayer.
Lisa Lake: Cosplay has opened many doors to opportunities to do some cool things. I’ve been to photoshoot events, interviewed for a couple of cosplay magazines, and recently interviewed for the first edition of the StarTrek Explorer Magazine. There are always networking events, and sometimes cosplayers are invited to movie premieres - in cosplay because people are looking for characters. Sometimes cosplayers are used as models for animators or different series that are filming. But it’s been exciting to go to conventions, photo events, and interviews for magazines.
Atlanta Film and TV: How did you find out about the film Duty Calls? Did you have to audition?
Lisa Lake: My cosplayer friend Rachel and I found out about a Star Trek studio in Kingsland, Ga. called The Neutral Zone. There replica sets from The Original Series, and we were determined to visit the studio and do a tour. We decided to cosplay the characters from a particular Star Trek series when we attended a fan appreciation weekend in Kingsland. Rachel and I toured the Star Trek studio, took pictures, and had a chance to meet the owner, Ray Tesi. Ray looked at us and said, ‘ you two embody these characters well. We gotta talk.’ He was impressed with our cosplays and wanted to write a screenplay that could feature our characters and both myself and my friend Rachel in our cosplay uniforms.
We didn’t think he would write the screenplay because, you know, who tells you that? But it happened! Within a month, we received a phone call saying there was a script. I was shocked that I was the main character and would be in almost every scene. I didn’t have to audition. The character and script were written for me to play. The next thing I knew, we were doing the first table read and began setting the shooting dates. It was the first time I had ever had to learn so many lines and the first time I had a primary speaking role. Everything happened quickly. It was such a surreal experience that I’ll never forget.
- Lisa Lake
Atlanta Film and TV: How did the content you produce on social media help book this role?
Lisa Lake: Social media is beneficial in allowing people to see what types of cosplays and characters I can embody and my costumes. It gave the screenwriter from the Star Trek tours something to reference once we left the studio. He checked our social media accounts to learn who we were, the types of cosplays we were doing, and how passionate we were about this particular role. He was able to use our social media accounts to research us as cosplayers. We came to the fan appreciation day in one costume for one day. He wouldn’t have known anything about us had we not had our social media pages up with content. Having social media accounts legitimized that we were serious about cosplaying this character and may have prompted the screenwriters to continue the process of writing the screenplay. Not only that but having social media accounts also helped me get interviews for magazines. Editors and writers can see my content, and the pictures are the first thing that attracts their interest.
Atlanta Film and TV: Can you share with us your experience being on set?
Lisa Lake: If you have never been to a StarTrek studio, The Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland is a treat and will blow you away! The set design is like an actual star ship. In the past, I have done some background work as a background artist in a few shows, and sets are broke up into different places. But, the star ship is contained and is all connected, on one continuous series of sets with hallways and corridors - like an actual ship! There are also individual sets added to the starship. The set is built like the original Star Trek series starship from the 60's. The set is breathtaking and looks like the same sets you see on the show! When you see this in person, you will say, “Oh, my gosh! I know this! I’ve seen this on tv” The set is nostalgic, and surreal. But, once you get on the set, and start filming, and you have the lights and the cameras, it brings everything to life. It’s amazing to see how things come together.
The shooting days were long, but we were on a fabulous set with amazing cast and crew! It's surreal as a fan of something, when you’ve seen it on tv, and then you actually step onto the set and now you’re filming on the It’s indescribable. I, however, had an amazing time. The crew and cast that we worked with were all wonderful.
Click the link below to watch our full conversation!
Atlanta Film and TV: Why would you say that building your online presence on social media is important for those who are cosplay artists?
Lisa Lake: Building an online presence is the only way people will recognize you as a cosplayer. There are many ways to do that and create content for your social media pages. Designing and building the costume is one thing. The process is like a teaching thing that cosplayers do where they are able to showcase the process to get to the final product, and you can see the amount of work that goes into it. The process legitimizes the amount of work you put into these costumes when cosplayers showcase them on social media. One of the things that happened during the pandemic is we could not to attend conventions. A lot of times cosplayers are constantly building a repertoire of costumes to showcase at conventions. But, since conventions weren’t active during that time, it was even more critical that you document, take pictures, put these costumes on and showcase them online. An online presence was crucial before the pandemic. But having an online presence now is imperative because social media has become big and is building careers for many artists. You have to have an online presence on multiple social media platforms. There are a lot of cosplayers that may do well on one particular platform over the other, but you have to get on there to find out which platform is best for you! Once you start building your social media presence, gauge how well you are getting responses based on what’s happening on each individual page. During the pandemic, having a social media presence was the lifeline for cosplayers because it was the only way people could find you, see the costumes you’re designing and showcase your work.
Atlanta Film and TV: How long does it take to create a costume?
It depends. If it’s an intricate costume, and it has a lot of detailed pieces that need to be made, or there is a lot of handmade designs and sewing, it can take weeks or months to complete. For costumes that aren’t nearly as difficult, you might be able to put it together in just a few days. If you are just starting cosplay, you might want to just buy a packaged costume to wear and over time add some unique pieces to make it your own. There’s nothing wrong with that. A lot of cosplayers want to customize their costumes, and make them from scratch. Customizing my costumes by just making small additions is what I do. I like to buy a packaged costume, take it apart, and put it back together, but add some creative pieces. My Snow White costume has details that are all done by hand. Part of the fun is creating the costume. It takes time when you are spending weeks and months researching, collecting and ordering different items and waiting for them to come. It’s a lot of work putting it together, but takes a lot of patience. It’s a labor of love for me and just so much fun!
Atlanta FIlm and TV: How can people follow your cosplay journey?
Lisa Lake: Right now I am on Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, and TikTok @lakelilovescosplay across all platforms.