Welcome to fall and welcome to October! From New England, a place that embraces the beauty of fall like nowhere else on earth comes Monique Renee. Please join us in congratulating her for her selection as the October 2011 Cosplay Babe of the month! Monique gave us a wonderful interview with a lot of interesting things to say so, with that said, let’s get right to part one of her interview.
Comics Ninja: Monique, thank you for joining us today from the East Coast. Why don’t you take the opportunity to introduce yourself to the Comics Ninja readers and tell us a little bit about yourself.
Monique: Hi there! About me, hmmm….well, I’m a pretty mixed bag of traits and interests that make me a jumble of randomness. For obvious starters, I’m a card-carrying geek, something I’ve never been shy about admitting, even back when it wasn’t “cool.” Star Wars is my primary poison, followed closely by the television show Farscape. I’m not really into fantasy so much, nor superhero comics, I am and always have been a Sci Fi girl (though I do enjoy certain anime and manga series). I’m a musician, I used to play piano fairly seriously. I’m a figure skater and despite setbacks I plan on being competitive again. My primary focus in my studies is paleontology, and my secondary focus is ethology/neuroethology, and I’d like to combine the two.
When I’m well enough, I’m a serious scholar working on publishing papers, but unfortunately, along with the rest of my life, that seems to be on hold. I consider myself an artist, working in any medium I feel like working in–drawing, painting, digital art, CGI, sculpting, beading, silversmithing, metalworking, stained glass, glass blowing…you name it, I’ve probably at least dabbled in it. However, I HATE sewing, even though I do it. I am just awful at it, so even in costuming I avoid it as much as possible. I model, and I’m currently getting ready to apply to a new agency since I’ve ditched my old one. I’m an animal lover (I’d have to be in order to study them!) but particularly rabbits; I have a Netherland dwarf rabbit with siamese coloring named Bailey who loves snuggling and giving kisses. My family has a sailboat and I spend a lot of time on the water, in keeping with my viking heritage. I’m a tea connoisseur, I love any and all kinds.
I’m a girly girl who loves makeup and jewelry and fashion, and when I say I like music, I really mean it. I listen to almost every genre (except country western), and vocal techno/trance I listen to in excess, but my favorite band of all time is Pink Floyd (Syd-era isn’t my favorite of the band’s 3 major phases, but unlike a lot of Floyd fans I actually love post-Waters Floyd just as much as I do their heyday albums).
I’d be remiss not to mention my health issues, no matter how much I loathe to acknowledge them as part of who I am. I have a chronic condition which causes a multitude of health problems, and I suffer from severe chronic pain, but I’m doing my best to work through it all.
I’m bubbly and hyper and pretty loud (though I wish I could get rid of that trait), I laugh a lot and have a random and weird sense of humor. That’s kinda me in a nutshell!
Comics Ninja: We note that you have mentioned figure skating on your FB page. Tell us a little bit about that.
Monique: I’ve been skating since I was 5, and quite seriously at that. I’ve been skating competitively since I was 6, and at one time was skating up to 4 hours a day, some mornings getting up before 5 AM to get to a rink several towns over. It still is a major part of my life, but my health has gotten in the way of skating seriously. I do hope to get back into shape (fitness is a matter of strength and endurance, not necessarily body shape! I’m naturally lean and muscular, even when I’m sedentary, and I am seriously out of shape right now) and begin competing again soon.
Comics Ninja: Now to get to the cosplay, what first got you into it?
Monique: This is a fun story. The morning that the Star Wars Episode II soundtrack was released (before the movie came out), I went to the record store to buy it before school. I was showing my friends the leaflet from inside the CD during lunchtime and in it was an image of Padme in her “lake dress,” and I was in love. I instantly said “See that? That is going to be my senior prom dress.” I was still just a freshman but I’d made up my mind. Come my senior year, with the extensive help of my aunt (and information from The Padawan’s Guide!), I had my dream dress. Unfortunately the day of prom I suddenly realized “oh my god, I’m going to my prom in a Star Wars dress” and freaked out, so all of the photos my parents took of me before I left were terrible because I had an enormous scowl on my face haha. Only one person recognized it for what it was though–another girl in my class who was also a huge Star Wars fan.
A year later, during my freshman year of college, the museum I have a membership to had a “Meet the 501st Legion” night in conjunction with the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibit. I’d pretty much worshipped the 501st Legion my entire teenage life, so I had to go, bringing my Padme Lake Dress with me. A member named Terri approached me and encouraged me to change into my dress. Once I came back out, many of the members thought I was already a member of the 501st’s sister organization, the Rebel Legion! So I happily joined up, and started ‘trooping’ with the legions, and the rest is history!
Comics Ninja:What was your first cosplay experience like at a convention?
Monique: It was an absolute blast. I had already been trooping with the 501st and Rebel Legions for over half a year by the time I attended my first con, so I knew a lot of the attendees already. It was a small con as well, so it ended up feeling like a big party with tons of friends, plus a dealers room. In fact, my convention experiences haven’t changed very much, aside from knowing even more people now! I’m sure this isn’t like the typical ‘first con experience’ for most.
Comics Ninja: What is your favorite convention or event to attend?
Monique: My favorite convention, after Dragon*Con, is SuperMegaFest. I never have a bad experience and I’m always surrounded by friends. The stories that we bring back from that convention are priceless, things you just couldn’t make up. There are several events with my 501st garrison and Rebel Legion base too which I adore, most notably the Halloween parade we do every year. So many times it’s so big and grandiose–one year we had a full-size Jabba the Hutt, with many of the members of his palace surrounding the float, and I was chained to him as Slave Leia–that was the coldest experience of my life but I would do it all over again if I had to!
Comics Ninja: What do you think of all of the attention you have gotten from the fanboys (and girls) on the internet and at conventions or events?
Monique: That’s a faceted question. Most of the attention is really wonderful, so many people really appreciate the artistry involved in costuming. Obviously there are anonymous commenters on websites that have negative things to say, but at this point I don’t even bother looking at comments in places like that (how can I be too fat and too thin in the very same photo? It’s just silly). The response online and in-person from fanboys and fangirls of my work has been overwhelmingly positive, and I’m always touched by kind words.
On the other hand, the overall fangirl response when I began dating well-known costumer Toby Markham (otherwise known as SithCamaro) was…not so positive, to put it delicately. I’ve even had problems with fanboys who dislike him. It wasn’t all bad of course, but I was pretty hated there for a while. I’ve learned just to turn a blind eye and ignore any negative or weird attention I get from his fans or haters alike.
Great interview Monique and we look forward to part two! Until then, get the latest comic book, gaming, sci-fi, movie, cosplay and animation news on The Ninja Report, containing sourced and aggregated news from every corner of the internet and updated every ten minutes! Never miss another headline, preview or breaking story, Ninja Nation! Then, when you’re done with the news meet and rate your favorite cosplay models and fans over at our sister site Cosrater.com. If you need more of Monique, her website is coming soon to www.monique-renee.com. The site should be completed soon.