At its heart, Geek Bomb is fundamentally about celebrating, inspiring, and getting to know women in geek. Founded by our Boss Bomb Maude Garrett and featuring a Bomb Squad filled with diverse, talented, and totally badass ladies, Geek Bomb has a mindset much like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Females are strong as hell. And it’s about time we start celebrating that again. So, we’ve decided to relaunch Women in Geek, our interview series that spotlights, shows off, and talks about the wonderful ladies who are leading the geek entertainment field.
Joining us this week is Shelby of Bombshell Cosplay, an immensely talented (we’re talkin’ award-winning!) and creative cosplayer who has shown off her skills as characters from all corners of the nerd world, from My Hero Academia to Sailor Moon to Fate Stay Night and even Mean Girls.
We had the chance to chat will Shelby about her biggest influences, how she got her start in cosplay, the advice she’d give to those just starting out, and where she hopes the industry is headed.
Geek Bomb: First off, when did you realize that you were, in essence, a geek? What geeky things are you up to now?
Shelby: My mother tried to get me off of Powerpuff Girls by buying me books aimed at teenagers. I was obsessed with Powerpuff Girls. I owned everything Powerpuff Girls. I still stand by my opinion that 11 is not too old to like Powerpuff Girls. 25 is not too old to like Powerpuff Girls.
Anyway, one of the books that slipped into my mom’s “young adults” pile she gave me was the first Sailor Moon manga.
Sorry, mom. You tried.
GB: Let’s get our foot in the door by asking how you got your foot in the door. What’s your industry origin story – how did you get started? What advice can you give to those looking to break into your industry?
S: I actually have been working in the television and media field since I was 19 years old. I moved to California from Maine, and eventually found a full time job in TV.
After that happened, it was kind of like, now what? My friend and president of Akiba Day/Harajuku Day, John Woo, took a candid photo of me walking (in my awful first ever made costume) and that’s the day we both got into the “nerd community.”
GB: What is the most difficult obstacle that you’ve had to overcome in your industry or maybe even still overcoming?
S: A lot of it is “fuck boys” honestly. It’s actually really hard to get into the convention industry without cosplay, and it’s even harder to balance cosplay and professionalism.
If you go in cold, you have a harder time networking. If you go in dressed as Sailor Moon, you have to constantly be alert to which people just have a Sailor Moon fetish. Being in cosplay, you have a lot more experience with project management, budget, social media, marketing, and other skills, but to those lame dudes, cosplay is just “girls getting undeserved attention because they’re hot.”
I have a bachelors in Film, Communications Media and a minor in professional writing (with honors!) I’ve worked in legitimate production studios, pre-production offices, and on set for major television shows for six years. It blows my mind how some people (unfortunately, some even being people I consider friends) will walk up to you and treat you like you’ve never seen a camera… and try to act like they’re doing you a favor by teaching you something.
It astounds me that after meeting someone who wants to make content (ranging from tiny YouTube channels to major websites), I will give them my card, expecting to be able to make something great with someone, only to get a “wyd” text at 11pm and a “you’re so hot” in my DMs the next morning.
Part of it, I think, is ingrained. I always thought it was rude to come up to people and act like you’re the bees knees when there are still things you want to improve on, but after being demeaned by dudes who have made like, two CMVs and a podcast, I’m starting to realize I have to.
Luckily, I work for amazing people at Nerdbot and Akiba Day who are amazing and create great spaces for creativity and everyone makes astounding content of their own!
GB: Picture yourself at ten years old. What advice would you give her? What would she love to know about present-day you?
S: This is a great question. I actually hated myself most of my life. I always suffered from mental illness. I never could make friends. I think [that] even though she would have a lot of objections with me cussing and wearing fishnets, she would be amazed that a life with so many interesting things, good friends, and confidence could ever be her life.
GB: Who are your female role models and/or inspirations
S: I was always a big fan of AngiViper. I really also liked Mirai Nagasu a lot.
GB: Who are some of your favourite fictional female characters of all time?
S: Rori Gilmore, Jane Eyre, Kim Possible, [and] Sailor Moon.
GB: How would you like to see this industry grow for not only women, but within the entertainment space?
S: I’d love more media outlets about cosplay! I’d like a lot more involvement from POC, people of all genders, and all people of different sexual orientations! There are a lot of good ones already, and I believe every voice needs to be heard!
We all need to support each other more. Share and promote each other’s art, costumes, photography, articles, and videos. We can all be the voice that’s needed for people who are marginalized to succeed in entertainment.
GB: Where can people discover more about you? Socials/website/podcast or channel links.
Thanks again to the lovely Shelby for joining us to celebrate the magic of women in the nerd world!