Jessica Nigri, Legend of Cosplay
Jessica Nigri (born August 5, 1989) is an American model (actually born in New Zealand) who has carved out a niche for herself as a cosplay celebrity, voice actress, promotional model and fan convention interview correspondent. If there is any single cosplayer who dominates the field of cosplay - it is Jessica Nigri.
If you don't know what cosplay is, that's ok, it's kind of a "subculture" of video games: it is "costume play," a hobby in which participants wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character or idea that is usually identified with a unique name. One way to think about it is that, for cosplayers, everyday is Halloween. Cosplayers go to conventions such as the San Diego Comic-Con to portray their characters.
Most typically, cosplay costumes are of video game or fairytale character, though they can be movie characters, movie stars or just about anyone that is recognizable. Usually, they are characters from the Japanese genres of manga and anime. There are no set rules, though, and creativity reigns.
Jessica takes a lot of pride in her costumes. She made her first costumes herself, buying the material and sewing them together.
Jessica was born in Reno, Nevada (some sources say Phoenix, Arizona), but grew up in New Zealand. She moved back to Arizona at the age of 12 (got a condo made 'a stone-uh).
Jessica first began dressing up ("cosplaying") at the age of 19 in 2009, when she went to Comic-Con in San Diego. Jessica was a hit in her "Sexy Pikachu" costume. It was Jessica's own idea to go - she just did it. The San Diego Comic-Con is the biggest platform for cosplay, and her performance got Jessica noticed.
In 2012, Jessica won IGN's contest to portray Juliet Starling from Lollipop Chainsaw, a Suda51 video game. This vastly increased her popularity. She later portrayed other Suda51 characters, such as Vivienne Squall from "Killer Is Dead."
This appearance led to various promotional opportunities for Jessica. She She later modelled Anya Stroud from Gears of War 3, a popular Microsoft/ Gamestop video game. Her talent led Jessica to represent the Gears of War and GameStop brands. Later, Warner Bros. Games hired Jessica as a spokesmodel.
Jessica has gone international, too. She appeared at Comic Con Germany in September 2015.
Jessica's career has not been without controversy. Sometimes, Jessica's costumes have pushed the envelope and been deemed "too revealing" by some of the women who attend these events. Jessica has had some issues with convention organizers as a result.
For instance, her initial pink costume for Juliet Starling caused some complaints at the 2012 Penny Arcade Expo East Convention. Even when she put on a second, less-revealing costume, the convention organizers wouldn't allow her to appear.
However, as a general matter, conventions are more than happy to have Jessica Nigri appear - as long as she tones down her costumes. In fact, Jessica was the spokesmodel for Amazing Arizona Comic Con 2011.
Jessica is a sexy girl and plays that up, but she resents being treated as a bimbo. It is about the costumes and having fun, not being a stripper. When one audience was rude to her, she wrote the following on her Facebook page:
I want to emphasize, cosplay is not all about T&A. It’s about fun, creative magic with your friends. It’s about spending weeks on something to wear for one day. It’s about feeling good about yourself in a costume to share with the world. These boys did an amazing job and I just wanted to say how much I appreciated their costumes.
Now that Jessica is considered a pioneer in the cosplay field, she also judges cosplay contests.
Some of Jessica's more famous characters:
Sonya Blade (Mortal Kombat)Jessica is a fixture within the cosplay world, and folks who attend the conventions and so forth instantly recognize her. The fact that she is a shapely and comely girl doesn't hurt a bit, especially since she has the figure and "look" of many video game heroines.
Juliet Starling (Lollipop Chainsaw)
Vivienne Squall (KILLER IS DEAD)
Captain Edward Kenway (female version) (Assassin's Creed IV)
Jessica's true love is marketing and advertising, which she has indicated she eventually will do full-time. For now, with her good looks, Jessica Nigri has many more years of modelling and cosplaying ahead of her.
Jessica considers herself a gamer, and claims that she has played video games since she was a child. There's nothing at all unusual about that, of course, but most video gamers don't grow up to portray video game heroes in real life.
Jessica likes to portray female versions of male characters in video games. Apparently, she came up with that idea herself. For instance, she played Captain Edward Kenway from Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag at gamescom 2013. This is known as "crossplay."
Jessica is good friends with fellow cosplayer Yaya Han, the host of Syfy's "Heroes of Cosplay." However, Syfy, for marketing reasons, promotes a "feud" between the two.
Jessica has become a major force in voicing video game characters. She has voiced Cinder Fall on Monty Oum's RWBY: Volume 1, RWBY: Volume 2, RWBY: Volume 3, RWBY: Volume 4, the television series RWBY, and RWBY Chibi. She also has done stunts for the series via motion capture. She also was in RWBY, Red vs. Blue (a cameo in season 12), and a lead in Super Sonico: The Animation. Jessica also has been in a couple of music videos, playing Sonya Blade from Mortal Kombat in one, and "Cos-Play Girl" in another.
Jessica also sometimes acts as an interviewer. For instance, she conducted interviews for GameZone, RUGGED TV, and Comic Book Therapy. Jessica also does work for organizations such as theCHIVE as well as some commercial work. For instance, Jessica has performed her Juliet Starling and Vivienne Squall characters on television ads.
The true mark of fame these days is how many Instagram followers you have. Jessica has almost 3 million Instagram followers, and often posts pictures of herself in cosplay outfits.
Jessica's Facebook page has almost 5 million Likes. Jessica also makes appearances on Twitch.
Jessica has a very popular Reddit page.
Fans who have met Jessica say that she is extremely nice and likes to interact with fans.
Jessica regularly uploads videos to Youtube on her own page.
Jessica has over 650,000 followers on Twitter. Jessica is on Google+, too.
Cosplay to me means friendship. It means finding other people who totally dig what you dig and getting along because of the intense amount of likeness between the different groups of people. As far as describing myself as a cosplayer? I would say I am very new and laid back. I still have so much to learn.
Jessica describes herself as "Just a gooberdork trying to make friends!"