As an Asian Pacific Islander, representation matters. Seeing a character that resembles me in appearance and culture inspired me to pursue portraying Maui. When I first saw the marketing for Moana, I instantly felt a connection to Maui, and I just knew that with my craftsmanship skills and performance abilities, I'd be able to breathe life into this character.
I spent months searching for stretch fabric that matches my skin tone as close as possible, with respect to adapting Maui to me, rather than putting on a cultural costume. I spent over 50 hours meticulously hand-inking all of the tattoos based on the designs in the book The Art of Moana, using fabric inks. I sewed two wigs together to create Maui's voluminous hair, and used natural clay and twine to replicate his bone necklace. His magic fish hook took over 30 hours of work, from foam fabrication, carving and painting. To create that Disney magic, I learned to program and wire around 1,000 lights through Arduino to give Maui's hook that powerful glow. I source and painted the leaves and sewed them with my Singer Heavy Duty sewing machine.
The response from Disney fans of all ages has been incredible, with parents Skyping their children and having me sing "You're Welcome" to them. To be able to take folks out of the ordinary and have them experience the extraordinary is very fun. To compete in the Crown Championships of Cosplay, and be recognized with a 2nd Place win by a panel of special effects artists and industry figures simply topped off the experience.
Cosplay is a blend of science and art, and being able to develop my craftsmanship skills and partner them with my performance abilities creates a magical experience. I thrive in these little pockets of shared sunshine where we can step outside of our ordinary lives and create the world we've imagined. In addition, being a plus-size cosplayer has encouraged many to be more body-positive and accepting of themselves and others.