We recently had a chat with the incredibly kind and talented cosplayer Yuegene Fay! Yuegene arrived in Australia from Thailand to participate in the SMASH! 2016 convention which was held over the 20th and 21st of August. In our interview we talk about Yuegene’s best cosplaying advice, her thoughts on the cosplay community in both Thailand and Australia, and how cosplaying has changed her as a person.
Yuegene Fay, welcome to Sydney and welcome to SMASH! 2016. What are your thoughts about our city so far and the SMASH! convention itself?
Actually I still haven’t had time to look around Sydney yet, but I’m really enjoying SMASH so far. It’s a big convention – one of the biggest I’ve ever gone to. People are so kind to me and I’m really happy. I had panels on Saturday and Sunday morning. On Saturday I had a mega-panel where I shared my tips to many cosplayers. They could ask me any questions they wanted to know. There was not much time, though, so I was sorry that I couldn’t answer all of their questions.
You are one of the world’s top ranked and internationally renowned cosplayers. What qualities do you think separate you out from your competition?
I’m not sure – because I don’t think I’m that special. I’m just a person who loves to cosplay and I try to make everything good. I try my best. I put a lot of work, very hard work in every detail of my costume. So if I say I’m special or not- I’m not sure. I just let people look at my costume.
Hailing from Thailand, what is the cosplay scene like in your homeland?
Oh, cosplay in Thailand is very popular now. The cosplay community has been growing very fast every year.
Was it very big when you first started?
It first started about 20 or 30 years ago, but at that time it was a very small group. I’m not sure if we can call it an ‘event’ because there were only 20 or 30 people. I know that because of my “senpai” – they tell me a lot. Hahaha. But we now have more than 100,000 people doing cosplay in Thailand.
That’s amazing! They must really look up to you a lot. Maybe you’re the reason why it’s become so big!
Hahaha, I’m not sure. But now– even Japan’s cosplay culture is very popular around the world, not only Thailand. And anyone can join together and share! It’s very fun.
Having had a look around SMASH! what is your opinion on Australia’s cosplay scene?
Everyone really impressed me because there are a lot of good cosplayers here. I actually saw many good cosplayers as I walked past and I wanted to have a selfie with them, but I was so sad because I had no time! I needed to go to my panel! And a lot of people cosplayed the animations I like. I wanted to have selfies with them.
You should come back next year and take selfies with them!
I hope so! I really hope so!
You have cosplayed many characters. Which is your favourite one and why? Also, which characters will you be cosplaying during SMASH?
The characters I cosplay are my favourite characters! That’s why I choose the character to cosplay. Yesterday I was Rin from Free, but a police version, and today I am cosplaying Sabo from One Piece. My new favourite character! I just made this costume last month when I went to Japan Expo in Paris.
Did it take you a long time to make?
It turned out amazing!
Did you think being a cosplayer will take you all over the world? What makes the cosplay community special?
I never knew!! I never knew it would become like this. It’s also made me quite surprised, because normally I am a bookworm. I rarely had to meet people. I’m like a– do you know ‘hikikomori’? It means a person who doesn’t want to go out to meet people and always stays in their room. That was me in the past! But now I’ve become like this and I can travel around the world for cosplay. It has made me make a lot of friends and travel around the world and meet a lot of people. It’s been fantastic. When you cosplay, you can be the character you like and you can enjoy conventions and meet people who love the same thing. It’s the best place – you can relax from hard work and study and enjoy it with other people. That’s the best thing about cosplay for me. That’s why I still do cosplay.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to people who cosplay?
Well, to cosplay newbies or people who haven’t cosplayed yet, I want to say “just do it!” It’s hard at the start because you don’t know anything or anyone and you don’t know how to cosplay. If you want to go to conventions, you don’t know anyone, so you’re like “I’m scared to go there.” It’s hard for the new person who has never come before. But don’t be scared. People are so nice, so just come and do it. And for the people who are already cosplaying – nowadays, cosplay communities have many dramas. People are always judging one another. Like, “You don’t cosplay well. You don’t really love that character. I don’t believe you, blah, blah, blah.” I think it’s quite crazy. Don’t let other people judge you. Just let them go away. And keep cosplaying if you enjoy it! That’s the important thing.
What are your plans for the rest of 2016?
I have many plans! But I’m not sure if I have the time. That’s more important! I have a lot of plans but maybe not the time. One of my plans is UNSTAR, a Japanese game. I will cosplay it in the next few months if I have time. And many games! I play a lot of phone games now, because there’s not enough time to sit in front of the computer.
What’s your favourite phone game?
Yume 100 and UNSTAR! And also Pokémon Go! I will cosplay some Pokémon later, but I will not tell you which character~
Any messages for your fans?
Thank you SMASH and Australian fans for helping me this year! I feel very very happy. Thank you for your warm welcome, for coming to my panel and for enjoying cosplaying together. And for everything this year – it was amazing. I’m very happy. And thank you guys for worrying about my health! I just had a surgery – now it’s better, but it’s still a little bit painful. People were very worried about me, so thank you very much. I was very touched!
Character photos: © Yuegene Fay
Photo 3 taken by Cassandra Monjo