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Stele love: Apply your ‘Shadowhunters’ runes with Alyssa Sullivan

We have the ultimate collab here at Film Daily with none other than actress & cosplayer Alyssa Sullivan. Alyssa is also a YouTuber focused on SFX makeup, fashion, fandoms, fitness and dance. You’ll probably recognize her from her amazing Shadowhunters cosplay creations.

Alyssa is known for creating accurate screen props, cosplays and videos. For several years, Alyssa has worked with SFX makeup as well as hosted many workshops on costuming and makeup.

Alyssa leads her workshops with one thing in mind: “Everyone should feel empowered! Showing kindness & learning new skills really empowers you and the other person.” Alyssa also runs her own business through Etsy selling props and merchandise which you should check out. 

Alyssa Sullivan has also released a video showing us some Shadowhunters Izzy cosplay. She shows us exactly how to apply a rune and gives the Shadowfam some tricks of the trade. Alyssa gives us an inside look on how to become a badass Shadowhunter like Izzy, with an equally badass rune. Be sure to check it out, along with her YouTube channel for even more fun-filled videos. 

We had the pleasure of interviewing talented cosplayer/performer Alyssa Sullivan.

Tell us about your history as a cosplayer. How did you start your journey?

I honestly just sort of fell into it. In high school I started making parody films, I was in charge of everything from cinematography to casting to wardrobe and making screen accurate costumes was one of my favorite parts of the process. I loved learning new ways to distress and sew clothing for the characters I was playing, and from there I went to my first convention and it’s been a very deep black hole since!

Who were your early influences?

I actually didn’t have any influences – aside from the source material itself. I would see a movie or a TV show I liked and there was always an outfit that I was dying to wear. So I’d go to the fabric store, see if I had the skills (or could learn the skills) to make it and then I’d get to work. Sometimes it worked out and sometimes it didn’t, but I loved making something that looked like it came off of the screen with my own hands.

Tell us about your career before cosplay.

I work full-time as an actor and part-time as a Etsy/Online shop owner & YouTuber and I do cosplay on the side. I also work promotional jobs, so it’s always a busy time for me to make sure I still have time to plan and make cosplays. 

I pretty much work 14-hour days 7 days a week and still don’t always have funds for cosplay. So I guess you could say I still have many careers but I find they all help with an aspect of cosplay and allow me to share what I learn with others! 

Tell us about your creative process.

It depends on what I’m making. If I want to make a screen accurate cosplay, I go to the source material and study the screenshots or promotional images for materials, color, details, etc. 

I’m very strict with myself about screen accuracy. If a button had a certain pattern on it I make notes and try to find the exact button or as close to it as possible as I can. When I made my Clary Fray holster, I spent a few weeks hunting down the exact zipper online. Then I find a pattern that I can alter to make the style or I just make my own pattern from scratch. 

If I’m making my own cosplay, like my Grecian Wonder Woman or Cell Block Tango Harley Quinn, then I just picture it in my mind and make what I need.

What tips do you have for new cosplayers?

I would say don’t get discouraged! It took me years to learn skills for what I wanted to make and I’m still not a pro at everything (or most things)! Just keep trying and learning. YouTube has great tutorials for so many cosplay related things now, go out and absorb everything you can! The more you know, the easier it will be to make the costumes you want! 

And don’t forget to have fun and make new friends! I spent a lot of time when I was younger being very shy and not talking to anyone at cons and I wish I had been more outgoing. Everyone is so kind at cons, don’t be afraid to say hi and make new friends!

You’re very hands-on with your projects. How hard is it wearing all the hats?

It can be pretty exhausting sometimes, especially when it’s 2am and I’m still painting something and I’ve been up since 6am. When I get to wear that final costume and it’s finished, I’m always so happy! The hard work is always worth it!

What’s your next project?

Right now I’m working on a lot of YouTube videos! I’ve been really excited to do more of the things I love (like acting and dance) at the same time as I cosplay, so my new videos will include a lot of skits, music videos and cosplay tutorials. I’m working really hard on something that’s never been done before, and I just hope everyone has as much fun with it as I do! It’s always more fun when you can share with others!

What’s your five-year plan?

That’s a very detailed plan! Honestly, I want to keep doing what I love. I’m working very hard right now on my acting career, so I’d love to work on a project with other people who share a passion for characters and worlds that aren’t like our own. 

I’d also love to be able to share my YouTube on a larger scale to help others learn the skills I’ve struggled to learn in a quicker and easier way. I’d love for my failures to become something that can help other people. I love to connect with other people, so if I can do that through videos, I’m happy!

What cosplayers should be on our radar?

I really love convixcosplay for their fun twists on classic characters! They’re such a great group of women and I always enjoy seeing what they’ll do next! 

What’s your favorite show of all time, and what did you learn from it?

I’ve loved so many shows in the past (Strange Days Of Blake Holsey High, Vampire Diaries, Psych, Game Of Thrones, Supernatural and so many others) but my ultimate favorite show has been Shadowhunters. Shadowhunters was the first show where I really felt like there were characters like me, who thought the same way I did. 

Over the course of the seasons, that changed a bit, but I’m still so thankful for the creation of those characters. I learned so much more about wardrobe and wardrobe creation from Shadowhunters than any show in the past, and the crew was so kind to show fans so many things through their social media that made my cosplay process a lot more eye opening. 

The show also affected my acting career itself, pushing me to reach for those roles that I was too hesitant to reach for before and giving me the confidence I needed to push myself further. I found out new things about myself while watching Alec & Jace’s journeys, and I guess you could say Shadowhunters taught me who I was.

Why do you think Shadowhunters should be saved?

There’s nothing like Shadowhunters. It’s so rare to see a cast and crew so tightly knit like a family, especially that can create something so amazing and unique together. This show didn’t aim to push any point of view, or to be a certain way, it existed with realistic characters, characters from different backgrounds, who were flawed but still succeeded, still lived amazing lives, even though there was struggle. 

You could see different things from different angles and it really made you think about those who were different than you. There’s a lot of shows out there that I love, but Shadowhunters has something truly special to it that deserves to keep on living.

Tell us about your favorite Shadowhunters character to cosplay?

I find that I have so much fun with Clary when I cosplay, because of her weapons and her outfits. Her style is very much like mine-I have a bit of a leather jacket obsession! I’m also a fairly small girl who can kick your butt, so Clary and I are alike in that way. 

I also really love cosplaying the Seelie Queen, because she’s so much fun to get into the character of. I used to say Alec was my favorite to cosplay, but the wig is honestly quite itchy! LOL

What’s your favorite event for cosplayers?

Dragon*Con! It was my first ever convention and the year I went over 50,000 were in attendance. I started out big and fell in love with it; everything from the panels and costumes to the crowds themselves. There’s a never ending amount of things to do at Dragon*Con and I’m never bored. I’ve sadly had to miss the past two years and I miss it so much! I also love GalaxyCon every year!

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