Okoye is from the Marvel comics and movie of the same title, Black Panther. She is the commander of the Dora Milaje, an elite group of female bodyguards for the Black Panther. Played by actress Danai Gurira, I knew when I saw the movie that I had to bring this intelligent, powerful, beautiful and fiercely loyal character to life.
Okoye was extremely well received, much more so than I anticipated. For the first time in my cosplaying history, people gave me little gifts when they saw me: badge ribbons, cards, buttons and the like. That has never happened to me before and I was totally blown away by the enthusiasm and generosity — I had no idea that people did such things for cosplayers. I am so grateful, but I have no idea who any of them were, so if you are reading this: you are so awesome, and thank you!
This costume was commissioned. The brown leather harness, beaded front panel, gold shoulder armor and three skirts were created by Fred and Elle Designs. Knox Jewelers crafted the choker, necklace and bracelets. I wore a body suit for the under armor due to a costuming error with the original commission (accidents happen!) and the most important piece, of course, was my fabulous makeup artist Jessica Mills, who hand painted Okoye’s signature head tattoo and also provided my makeup.
I have met so many people along the way who have changed my life for the better. I’ve made so many new friends who quickly become some of my closest friends. It also adds a new dimension to the convention experience that is so much fun — the way people respond to you, the way their eyes light up when they recognize your character. I am so thankful for every wonderful thing that has happened since I started cosplaying four years ago.