MEET TAYA MILLER
How did you get into cosplay initially?
Before last year, I had close to no knowledge about what cosplay even was. I grew up with Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Disney, and a few other franchises, but I never really dove too far into the fandoms because I didn’t think I “belonged.” I moved to Orlando to attend UCF (and to be closer to Disney, Universal, and everything that I love). I then started to find friends that enjoyed the same things that I did. Fast forward to last year in May and I attended my first convention, MEGACON Orlando. I wore the Spider-Man: Homecoming suit, and I had never felt so welcomed and at home in my life. The entire day was filled with meeting cosplayers, bonding with them over our interests, and me realizing that this is where I felt like I belonged. After MEGACON, I bought my first cosplays, including Black Cat and Raven, and the rest is history!
How did you get into TikTok?
Quite a few of my friends were already on the app. I was never really into social media so I was hesitant to get it. But I was finally convinced to download it, and I realized that there were a lot of cosplayers there. I posted videos every now and then and befriended cosplayers on the app before I started posting cosplay videos regularly.
What would you say is the key to making a good TikTok?
Energy! The videos that tend to do best for me are the ones that show my authentic personality – people like creators who are REAL. BE YOU. For me, this includes positive energy and lots of smiles. Don’t be scared to show your bloopers (nobody is perfect, and people want to see that). Also, always having good lighting and a clean background is recommended!
What’s the cosplay community on TikTok like?
Almost all of my experiences with the cosplay community on TikTok have been positive. Cosplayers are some of the most real people I’ve ever met (which is ironic because cosplayers portray other characters and personalities haha). They’re not afraid to be themselves and they’re so, so welcoming. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely still gatekeepers that exist, but I think TikTok is helping to eliminate that problem. For example, I have never seen so many female Star Wars and Marvel fans in my life and that makes me so incredibly happy. Something that I push for in my videos a lot is to make the cosplay community and fandoms more inclusive and to get rid of bullying towards those who are involved in them. I continue trying to make my account a safe space for anyone and everyone, as I believe that everyone deserves to love what they love without being shamed and/or bullied.
Do you have a cosplay piece or video that you are most proud of?
The cosplay that I’m most proud of is probably my My Hero Academia Himiko Toga. I made all of the props for this cosplay in one night (including the mask, teeth, needles, canisters on her back, belt, and leg pieces)! It was the night before a big meetup, in which we were doing MHA content, and I decided last minute to do a full Toga cosplay. I had to get super creative, so I took a trip to Target and ended up using materials such as a pool noodle, an oversized t-shirt, Clorox containers, candy boxes, ketchup bottles, and foam!
Is there a fellow cosplay TikToker that you look up to or inspires you?
Honestly, all of my friends and mutual friends. I tend to get in a ‘rut’ sometimes and feel super unmotivated to cosplay or make content but they always push me to continue and to do better. Even if it’s not them directly saying it to me, just seeing their content makes me more motivated. They not only continue to help me grow as a cosplayer and content creator but also as a person. An example is @nytonystark. He was one of the first cosplayers I found on TikTok and has inspired me to want to visit children’s hospitals, just like he does.
If you could give any piece of advice to new cosplayers, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid. People will try to bring you down and say negative things towards you, especially on social media. It’s so important for you to remember that you are doing this because YOU love it and that’s all that matters. Also, always remember your roots – remember what got you into cosplay, the feeling you had when you put on a suit for the first time, and why these characters mean so much to you.