By Philip Schweier
October 7, 2014 - 08:32
Once upon a time, geek fandom was looked upon as strictly a
boys club. But then something marvelous happened. Girls openly started reading
comic books. And playing video games (often mopping the floor with their male
opponents). Soon it was obvious girls enjoyed sci-fi/fantasy as much as boys.
For many years, Ireland was forced to hide her geek life. “When I was younger, if I mentioned it even to my friends, I was guaranteed to be made fun of. My mother would say that I had a crazy imagination but my father always supported the ideas I had, regardless of how crazy they seemed. He was also an avid geek with sci-fi and gaming so that helped greatly.”
Ireland loves anything anything science fiction-related, her favorite authors being R.A. Salvator and Terry Brooks. But perhaps first and foremost, she is a gamer, both PC version – “I love my WoW worlds.” – and console versions. “All of them,” she says proudly. “PS4, XBox One and WiiU.”
She is also a big fan of trading card games, from Magic to Pokemon, as well as RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, and Dragon Age. “I was addicted to dragons before Game of Thrones,” she beams. “I love collecting figurines and rare items from cons and other places. I just love it all! I just want to drown myself in all of this!!!
Ireland was drawn to cosplay at an early age. “At Halloween, I always wanted to dress up like my favorite video game characters instead of a witch.” Her mother and grandmother were both seamstresses, and taught her at an early age how to bring these characters to life using the right equipment and supplies.
Turning her dreams into reality gave her the confidence to follow her ambitions wherever they led. As a teen, Ireland became interested in modeling, and left her Midwestern home for sunny Southern California. There, she was featured in Modified Magazine with NOPI Motorsports, and was named a Maxim Hometown Hottie. She also appeared on the front page of Playboy.com as one of San Diego's Top 10 hottest girls.
But Ireland is much more than a pretty face. She holds an associates degree in business management, a bachelor's in Health Care Administration, and is currently working on an MBA with a focus on marketing. She is also a designer for Rich Bitch Bikinis, and Geeky Glitter Girls is her personal geek-inspired line of bikinis themed in the comic book, game and animé worlds. She will soon be adding jewelry to her line.
“Needless to say I don't sleep much and am always on the go. There are moments where the travel makes it hard to keep up with the diet and the gym. I won't even go on about how hard it is to build up my WoW characters while traveling. It’s a nightmare.”
Despite her hectic schedule, she still finds time to visit
comic conventions across the country, courtesy of Zenescope Entertainment.
“Zenescope is an amazing publisher and I love working with them and their staff
of writers and artists,” she says. “I also have been working with directors at
other cons to set up my 2015 tour schedule, so I will be doing more panels on
gaming and cosplay.”
She believes every cosplayer has their own signature trademark. “Mine is creating elaborate detail in the pieces,” she says. “Plus I'm a perfectionist, so I will not rest until my vision is a reality. I also have really bad ADD and can barely sit still enough to sleep.”
According to Ireland, the trick is to work smarter, not harder. “It has been rough trying to iron out all the issues, but I wouldn't take it back at all.”
For Ireland, cosplay is an art form. “I love bringing my visions to life, and the journey to perfect that vision,” she says. However, like most creative endeavors, it can be frustrating. “When I see something or sketch out an idea, I am all, ‘I want to make this!’ Then I realize I have no idea how to create that exact look and I'm left trying to figure out how to make this vision a reality.”
Ireland prefers sticking with traditional colors and themes but also appreciates the challenge of working with new elements and mediums to create a one-of-a-kind piece. “Metalworking and sculpting are just a few of the new skills I have picked up.
“It is just another way to express myself,” she adds. “I love detail and if that means spending months on a piece to create it, then I will do just that.”
The SyFy series Heroes of Cosplay has put a competitive spin on the activity, but Ireland adopts a more personal philosophy. “Cosplay isn't a competition to me, but rather a way for each person to show their individuality by making a costume or character come to life.”
Nevertheless, others take cosplay very seriously, and will argue that one’s body type should be considered when choosing a costume, to reflect the physical attributes of the character in question. But Ireland disagrees. “I feel that anybody should cosplay role whatever they want,” she argues. “If a person loves that character or theme, then they should feel free to express it.”
She believes cosplayers should be allowed to creatively express their individuality. “People come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Cosplayers should focus more on the craft of the costume than judging what the person looks like based on society standards.”
Ireland as Zenescope character Sela