Lily Rutledge-Ellison is Our Killer Geek of the Week

We have a cosplayer in our midst!

We’re back with another Member Spotlight, because our members are FRIGGIN’ AWESOME and always worth bragging about!
This week, we were put in contact with Lily Rutledge-Ellison, a 4th Grade teacher by day, and kickass cosplayer by night. Since we love people with niche hobbies, we knew we had to ask her all of our dumb questions and feature them in one of our more whimsical Member Spotlights.
If you’re at all interested in, cosplaying, costume-making, or just have a penchant for nerd culture, check out our conversation below:

Can you walk us through your background and introduction to cosplay?

I grew up in a costume shop in Baltimore, Maryland to a mother who loved historical recreations, and a father who loved Sci-fi and Fantasy. I had always held “unconventional” interests and suffered from low self esteem — as you do. I did a lot of High School theater, which helped a lot, serving as a safe space for my oddities.

I went to my first convention when I was about 14 and felt like I had found my promised land. My first “cosplay” was Sally Jupiter from Watchmen when I was seventeen.

What’s been your favorite character to cosplay as? Which was your most challenging?

I adore Avatar Kyoshi — from Avatar: The Last Airbender — for the strength she imparts upon me. The colors of her design are really powerful and she makes me feel fierce! She also was a part of a ‘Best in Show’ win so that feels great.

My most challenging cosplay was the first “big” cosplay I tried; Nova from Starcraft 2. She took a whole year of work. It was my first armor build, which took endless dremeling out of EVA foam. I lit the jumpsuit with E.L. wire and the wires were scratching and shocking me all through San Diego Comic Con.

How do you decide who to cosplay as?

I used to aim for the most challenging, the biggest “wow,” then I shifted to “What do my fans want to see?” After the constant anxiety surrounding the pleasing of others overtook me, I shifted back to the original source for my cosplay: “What makes me feel strong and happy?”

Honestly, I feel most fulfilled by small characters from things I love like The Adventure Zone, The Chilling Tales of Sabrina, Rat Queens, or Little Shop of Horrors.

Can you walk us through the process of creating one of your outfits?

Here is my process: First, get ridiculously excited for an idea and spend all my money on the materials. Then, a year later come back to the idea and say “Hey, that would be cool for a convention in 2 months.” And finally, begin work a week before the convention.

This as I understand it is the process for most cosplayers, so I don’t feel as bad. But hey, I can try and give some genuine advice for those of you looking to get into cosplay:

Draft your design on paper. Buy your wig months in advance. Get swatches of fabric and lay them out together to see which colors match what you are looking for. Find a pattern that is similar to what you need; honestly you can do some incredible things at thrift stores. Find a sewing class, Makerspace, or weathered seamstress to help you. Ask the cosplay community for advice. Mock up you design out of cheap fabric like muslin. And try your best and know that if you love the character others will too!

How did you end up on King of the Nerds?

Some friends were watching Season 1 and said, “Hey wouldn’t it be cool to audition for that?” I laughed it off at first, but they were sending in auditions. So I built a set in my bedroom, wrote a script, spent an entire Easter Sunday filming and two more days editing. I had a lot of jump cuts with costume changes. They called me back 15 minutes after I emailed it in.

After going through the whole process for Season 2, I was deemed “too pretty to be believable,” so they put me on hold — suitcase packed — a day before I was supposed to fly out. A year later I had just unpacked my suitcase when they called me for Season 3.

What do you do IRL?

Now I live in Colorado, and live out my double life: 4th grade teacher by day, Cosplayer by night… but more like by weekends and breaks.

Any upcoming shows or cons we can see you at?

I will for sure be at PodCon in Seattle December 9th-10th. Always Denver Comic Con. New York Comic Con is my favorite convention, but tickets are difficult so we will have to see.

That’s it for this week’s Member Spotlight. Make sure you follow Lily on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for all of her updates and upcoming events.