“What if Ahri… but FRIES?”
Meet Dominique, one of the best cosplayers at Anime Expo (AX) this year! Under the brand CineCosu, Dominique is a talented photographer and cosplay enthusiast. Her works have been featured in official Riot videos and publications like Kotaku. This year, she went as In-N-Out Ahri, or as one of her fans calls it, AhrI-N-Out. A celebrated veteran of the cosplay community, the face of CineCosu shared some words of wisdom with us.
What inspired you to make this Ahri cosplay?
It was kinda random to be honest! I literally woke up one day thinking, “What if Ahri.. but FRIES?” I have the screenshots of me messaging a couple of friends about it back in March. Originally, I was thinking of making it a little more janky/casual, like Gremlin D.Va, but my boyfriend convinced me to turn it into an In-N-Out mashup instead, which really took it to the next level, I think.
CineCosu also represents one of the best aspects of cosplay – the community. While there are a few bad apples, the cosplay community is about people coming together and representing their favorite characters. Dominique has a super positive attitude and her cosplay is the beautiful result of community effort.
How was AhrI-N-Out made?
The clothes and burger are from Amazon, the ears are by my super talented friend @aiyudesigns, and the tail is by my other friend @d.workshop, with a harness by @mowkysden.
Dominique also plays her part as a model and creative force. Though she identifies primarily as a ‘cosplay model,’ she isn’t without at least a little crafting know-how.
The day before con, I did a test shoot and realized they were too heavy and would fall if I had to walk around for too long. So @d.workshop and I decided to add some heavy duty fishing wire. Maybe that’s a little nerdy, but I thought it was exciting to troubleshoot!
Luckily, the tails were stable, and the harness held up really nicely. According to Dominique:
The hardest part was moving in crowds and trying not to injure people.
With over 100,000 attendees as Anime Expo this year, you can totally imagine how difficult it was for Dominique to navigate through the convention.
Dominique also appreciates the aesthetic of Riot Games’ League of Legends. She played 4-5 years ago, and is a proud member of the Wood tier of League‘s ranked system – which is to say, not ranked at all. While she hasn’t played League in a while, she wants to check out Teamfight Tactics soon!
My favorite thing is all the gorgeous skins Riot puts out. Every time I think I’m done cosplaying League, they’re just like “Here, have a skin, we’ll take your money now please.”
Cosplayers continually learn new skills every year they cosplay, and Dominique is no different. Dominique’s experience formed the foundation for her AhrI-N-Out to be successful. She started cosplaying when she was 14. At the time, she didn’t know about cosplay, but wanted to be Kairi from Kingdom Hearts 2 for Halloween. She returned to the craft after college, making a total of five years of experience.
My first cosplay was Kairi from Kingdom Hearts 2. IT WAS AWFUL. I think I picked out a random pink nylon blend of the dress; it didn’t fit right at all. I thought wigs looked dumb, so I went out and cut and dyed my hair for it. I’m low-key glad I don’t have any photos of it because it’d be super cringey.
I have to say I am a little proud of how far I’ve come since then though. My sewing and crafting skills still leave much to be desired, but I know my way around the cos[play] community well enough now to make do – make what I can, outsource what I can’t.
Dominique has also seen Anime Expo evolve as a convention. In recent years, AX has blossomed to be the biggest anime convention in the United States.
I first attended Anime Expo in 2005 I think. I’m going to sound like a grumpy old fart, but I do kind of miss the old days when the con was much smaller and we all watched the same 10 anime. It’s incredible to have so many options and such a huge community now, but Anime Expo before felt like a much more cohesive experience, and I can’t help but feel a little nostalgic for it.
However, despite the newfound size of AX, good moments can be found everywhere.
[When] I was dressed as Kurama from Yu Yu Hakusho, this group of kids comes up to me and asks to take a picture. I ask how old one of the kids is and he says “14.” I was so proud. This kid wasn’t even alive when YYH first aired but someone is raising him right.
Dominique clearly has long-time experience with the anime and cosplay community. When asked about what advice she would give to a cosplayer who is just starting out, she responds:
Do what makes you happy.
Over the years I’ve had such bad anxiety over doing what I thought would be popular or “beating the Instagram algorithm” and things like that, but I think metrics like that shouldn’t matter. What matters is if something resonates with you and makes you feel good and authentic. I guess that’s kind of a funny thing considering we’re literally dressing up as other people, but my point is, when I started to do things for myself instead of trying to impress others, I was just so much happier. It really does help a ton.
Dominique is a multi-talented artist, with notable works as a cosplayer and as a photographer.
I think I started cosplay first, but I wasn’t very serious about it. I never considered myself a “cosplayer.” I was always a photographer, shooting food and weddings and now cosplay. In fact, my screen name actually comes from my photography style – “cinematic cosplay” – and originally my feed just featured my photography work. Over time though, I started loving cosplay more and more and eventually, it became a more integral part of my online persona. I still consider myself more of a creative/director/photographer than a cosplayer, but it’s fun dabbling in both.
With a bustling portfolio, Dominque shares her creative vision in many mediums. However, she has two projects that have a special place in her heart.
Ahh, can I say two? The first one is my #cinescouts project, which was a series of Sailor Moon cosplay fashion editorials. Looking back, the first shoot wasn’t incredibly complicated, but at the time it felt huge. The girls were some of my biggest cosplay heroes, I was a newbie cosplay photographer, and I was absolutely terrified something would go wrong.
Luckily, the project turned out amazing, thanks to the girls and my super talented crew. And I believe that success was what really bolstered me to take on bigger and more ambitious projects in the future.
My second favorite was #KDAKinDA, a Blackpink-inspired K/DA cosplay music video we filmed earlier this year. And boy, WAS. IT. A. MISSION. Eight months of pre- and post-production, a cast and crew of about 100 people, and thousands and thousands of dollars.
Again I was super blessed to work with the most talented and hardworking people, from my KinDA girls, who put up with long dance practices — to my fellow directors @justinelement, @totomarvs, and @paperarttwork, who translated my chicken scratches into actual production notes — to our incredible CGI team and production assistants.
We jokingly titled it “the World’s Most Tryhard Cosplay Music Video,” but I seriously believe it’s true LOL. No one needs to put that much effort into shooting a cosplay video for fun, but I’m glad we did because I love how it turned out.
With a portfolio bustling with major projects, Dominique shares some important words of wisdom for new cosplayers:
1) Not everyone will like you or be your friend, and that’s okay. I used to have such bad FOMO and be such a huge people pleaser. But the truth is, parties stress me out and small talk makes me feel insincere. The people meant for you will find you, don’t worry about the rest.
2) Most people are not scary! I used to be super intimidated by cosplayers with huge follower counts, but I think most people in this community are just down to make friends and make cool creative projects happen. Some of my current favorite people turned out to be huge dorks after I spent years being too scared to talk to them. So I guess the lesson is, don’t be afraid to go up and say hi, people don’t bite. Usually.
3) Leave a spare wig cap in your car. Heck, leave 10. Trust me, you’ll need it.
Not only a cosplayer who does cosplay photography, Dominique is also a wedding photographer or videographer for @justinelement, who is also her cosplay photography partner and best friend. She also does marketing for @beaconechopark in LA.
Definitely check out Dominique’s other works and her Instagram for more pictures of this amazing AhrI-N-Out cosplay!
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