ReHorror Spotlight: Sheenah Cosplay Interview
Last week, we began our new ReHorror Spotlight series — a series of short interviews designed to highlight some of the best Resident Evil fan content creators out there. In a time where the Resident Evil fanbase can often come off as hostile and toxic, I felt it important to talk about the best aspects and hopefully spread a little positivity around. We started with ShadowLeggy, who perhaps goes farther back than any of the other fan web series creators, and this week we’re switching gears to another kind of fan creator.
Sheenah Cosplay is arguably one of the best professional Resident Evil cosplayers out there, who combines a pixel-perfect Claire Redfield costume (from almost every iteration of the character) with a sincere attitude that captures Claire in a “live-action” sort of way that even the professional Hollywood films couldn’t pull off. Sheenah doesn’t just cosplay Claire, of course — dozens of other classic gaming girls (and occasionally boys!) fill out her repertoire.
Rely on Horror: Would you mind telling us a little about yourself?
Sheenah: I am a Canadian geek living on the East coast of Canada, in the Montreal area. I am perfectly bilingual (French and English), but I do know a bit some other languages like Spanish and Japanese. I am a professional translator since about 8 years (English to French). I’m in a long-term relationship since almost 16 years now and I have no intention of getting married or having kids. I love traveling: I’ve been to Japan 5 times and to a few places in North and South America. My next big trip will be in Europe next year in May. I’m a gamer since the age of 11, at what time I was playing everything the Nintendo 64 had to offer. I also really enjoyed the Dreamcast and GameCube era. Nowadays, I mostly play games on PS4, Switch and on Steam. I also used to do fanart. fancomics and write fanfictions. These days, I’m mostly into cosplay and gaming in terms of hobbies.
Rely on Horror: How did you get into cosplay?
Sheenah: Back in 2009, a group of friends convinced me to go to a big anime convention in USA : Otakon, which was in Baltimore, Maryland. Knowing that everybody was cosplaying during those events, I decided to also give it a try. My choice wasn’t hard: Claire Redfield has been my favorite video game character for many years, so I decided to do her most recent look, which was her appearance in the CGI movie Resident Evil: Degeneration. But a few weeks before the con, Capcom announced their new RE game: Darkside Chronicles! I fell in love with Claire’s up-to-date look from the Code Veronica scenario, so I decided to cosplay this instead. My first cosplay experience was great and I even asked my friends to take some photos of it which I later shared on my DeviantART. It was well received, I got many compliments. This motivated me to keep on cosplaying and trying other things.
Rely on Horror: How’d you get into Resident Evil?
Sheenah: Back in 1999, I made a friend in High School who was also a gamer and had a Nintendo 64. One day, she told me she got this game called Resident Evil 2 on N64. At first, I wasn’t very excited about the news since I remembered seeing an article about it in my Nintendo Power magazine. From the screenshots, it looked like a boring creature game taking place in a building. But I was still curious and went to her place to check it out. In a few words: I WAS BLOWN AWAY. You have to keep in mind that at that time, all the games I knew were from the N64. So seeing cutscenes and actually hearing good voice acting in a game was new to me. I also loved the fact that you could play as a female character, which was rare back then. I fell immediately in love with Claire, thanks to Alyson Court, her voice actress. The game was also terrifying and really gruesome, which was also new to me.
Thanks to another friend, I also got to see RE3 around that time. And not that long after that, Code Veronica was announced and I couldn’t suppress my joy to play another game in which Claire was starring. I could talk forever about my RE experiences so I’ll just leave it at that, haha. But yeah, those games left a big impression on me and I just kept on playing whatever new RE game Capcom would release. In my heart, the tank-control/fixed camera games will always remain my favorites. I have fond memories of playing them. And through my love of those games, I became part of the RE online community, first by writing fanfictions after playing Code Veronica. I then started doing fanart and comics. And as I mentioned before, in 2009, I started doing cosplay and still do even to this day, to show my love for this awesome franchise.
Rely on Horror: Any other horror games you’d list as your favorites?
Sheenah: I do like the Silent Hill franchise and I’d say the first one is my favorite. I also liked Haunting Grounds, Dino Crisis, Parasite Eve and other games like Dead Space, Fatal Frame and Until Dawn.
Rely on Horror: Your main cosplay character seems to be Claire, which looks just about screen perfect, and I’ve also seen you pull off Dino Crisis‘ Regina, Zelda‘s Urbosa, Silent Hill‘s Cybill Bennett, HSotD‘s Saeko, and even Steve Burnside? Which one has been your favorite, or most rewarding to do?
Sheenah: Thank you! I just love Claire so much. I always do my best to do her justice, but I’m only human, it’s hard to look exactly like a fictional character, haha. I do what I can in term of outfits, hair, make-up and attitude/poses in my photos.
As for my favorite or most rewarding cosplay, it’s a really hard question. I only cosplay characters that I actually love. I would say my favorite is my latest Claire cosplay: her classic Code Veronica look. It’s from my all-time favorite video game and it just screams “nostalgia” to me. It has been well received from fellow fans so far, so I am really happy that I was able to pull it off. As for most rewarding, I rarely do my cosplay from A to Z myself, but I have to say that my Urbosa was the first cosplay that I actually did all by myself with little help from my friends. It’s not perfect, it’s not well fitted, but I was still impressed by the final result.
Rely on Horror: Are there any characters you’re hoping/planning to cosplay in the future? Not just from Resident Evil, but from other franchises? I’d love to see you do a Rebecca (my teenage crush lol)
Sheenah: Some of my dream cosplays include Daniella from Haunting Grounds and Helena from Dead or Alive 2, but I have no idea when or how I’d do them. I am currently working on Claire’s new look from the Resident Evil 2 Remake. I am hoping of finishing it for next Spring and having a photoshoot around that time. I also always wanted to do her Degeneration look so this might happen eventually. As for Rebecca, I do like her but not enough to cosplay as her (but I do have a little project in mind with a friend of mine who cosplays as her ? ).
Rely on Horror: Do you create the costumes entirely by yourself? How difficult is it character to character to pull off game-accurate looks?
Sheenah: In most cases, no, I don’t. I don’t have a sewing machine and I don’t intend on getting one. So I had friends help me with anything related to cutting and sewing. But for the rest, whether it’s finding materials, accessories, wigs, or doing paint jobs, I would do it. But actually making clothes, I wouldn’t do it. Urbosa is an exception since I got to do it at a friend’s place and borrow her sewing machine.
As for the accuracy difficulty, it really depends on the character. As a Claire cosplayer, I am lucky that she wears jeans most of the time. It’s just a matter of finding the right style and color. And more than often, I have things in my own closet that I can use. Resident Evil characters, for the most part, wear clothes you cab find in real life, so the trick is finding something looking similar and alter it, if need be. My friends are usually eBay, Amazon and thrift shops.
For more fantasy-like characters like Urbosa, Regina and Saeko, you need to be a bit more creative. You can find actual clothes and alter them or you have to make them from scratch.
Rely on Horror: Most of Claire’s outfits have logos/insignias on them (the Made in Heaven/Let Me Live embroideries). Are those difficult to pull off, or do you ‘fake’ them for lack of a better word for photos (I’d love to create Chris’ jacket from RE1, but my wife who is a seamstress told me I’m nuts)
Sheenah: I never faked them. All the logos are hand-painted, with the exception of the classic Code Veronica vest, which I commissioned. The cosplayer used transfer paper for that one.
Painting them isn’t as hard as embroideries, but it still needs some skills and a lot of patience. I do have some painting experience, so it’s not that hard for me, but it’s still something that I have to invest time on.
Rely on Horror: Is sex appeal a factor in choosing what to cosplay? Or is it something that is just fun to do when it happens to work?
Sheenah: Not really, as I don’t count on that for people to appreciate my cosplay work. If I like an outfit and it happens to be sexy, so be it, haha. But if it’s not, I won’t go out of my way to transform it and make it sexy for no reason. I prefer accuracy over sexiness. I do a bit of cosplay boudoir, but it’s only for fun and I make sure that it’s tasteful. Fanservice is fine as long as it’s not what defines me as a cosplayer. And no matter the character I cosplay as, I always do my best to respect their personality and attitude. So if the character is a bit sexual or sensual, I try to reflect that without going overboard. Otherwise, I prefer to look more badass or fierce more than anything else, haha.
Rely on Horror: How has your experience been as a RE cosplayer?
Sheenah: Mostly good. I had to go through some “cosplay drama” with other RE cosplayers a while ago, but I’m not dwelling on that. I keep on doing my thing and I won’t let anybody stop me from doing something I love. Otherwise, I met through cosplay so many amazing people, fellow cosplayers and fellow RE fans. Because of that, I developed some great friendships and I was given the occasion to spend time with them whenever I would go to a convention (or even outside cons!). Making friends is the best aspect of cosplay, I find. I don’t care about popularity or numbers. I care about the bonds that it allows me to create.
Sheenah: Oh yes, I know many great cosplayers! People should check out ChaoticClaire (she cosplays from various fandoms like RE, Devil May Cry and Parasite Eve), Morikyou (very versatile cosplayer who does awesome work), Jealous Goddess (her Alex Wesker and Excella cosplay are amazing), Wesker the Baker (a great Wesker cosplayer who likes to make people laugh), Lady Akumu (the only RE2 mayor’s daughter cosplayer!) and HopeHavoc (my cosplay partner in crime!). Of course, I know many more cosplayers who do excellent work, but these are good friends of mine that I met through cosplay and that I recommend on following and supporting ?
Rely on Horror: You’ve worked with some great photographers. Any, in particular, you’d recommend other aspiring cosplayers work with?
Rely on Horror: Anything coming up you’d like to plug before we go?
Sheenah: I am starring as Claire Redfield in a fan movie called Resident Evil: Ladies in Red! Please, check it out!
I might work on other projects with the creator of that movie. So stay tuned!
That’s all folks! Agent Sheenah was wonderful to interview, and if you like her work, you can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Thanks so much to Sheenah for the interview, and you can all look forward to more fan creator interviews coming soon!