Today we’re talking to Kelly Long, a smart lady of many talents who has been costuming brilliantly for a while now. She is literally Brave, a rebel princess and is a hit wherever she goes. Today she chats to the Time Warriors about her experiences so far in the cosplaying world and what the future holds. And by the way, we think she’d make a great Amy Pond. Kelly, thanks for talking to us today.Can you tell us about yourself?
I’m twenty one, I’m currently studying an English degree at Queen’s University Belfast with a view to do a Postgraduate in Acting. I joined the Emerald Garrison just over a year ago now, and I had never considered costuming before I went to their Invasion event. My favourite drink is peach schnapps because I’m a light-weight. If I was a crayon I would be deep purple and I really love tennis.
Have you always been a movie and television fan?
Yes, always. My brother, who was a teenager when I was born had quite a big influence on my tastes and he was always watching things like ‘The Matrix’ and ‘Angel’ so I was brought up with Sci-Fi and Fantasy and, I like to think, good taste in all those mediums. I remember bursting with excitement when I found out that Tomb Raider was being made into a movie. I still have an Age 5 Lara Croft T-shirt in my bottom drawer.
What sort of stuff do you watch?
I’m a lot less narrow-minded now, thanks to growing up a bit I imagine, but also due to my English degree- it has really widened my focus. I would never have considered watching Murder Mysteries or Crime Dramas before – I always hated them, but recently I’ve enjoyed ‘Mayday’ and I’m also enjoying ‘Broadchurch’ every Monday.
I still trade mainly in sci-fi though! I’m working my way through my ‘Angel’ boxsets for old times sake. I love ‘Firefly’ and rewatch it all the time. ‘Sex in the City’ is a nice girl departure for me, but I also enjoy things like ‘The New Normal’ on E4 and I live on ‘Big Bang Theory’.
Move-wise, I love all the Marvel stuff we’re getting, but I also like a bit of period drama like ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Atonement’ – you can’t go wrong with Joe Wright. All pun intended. I’m ashamed as a Sci-Fi fan to say I’ve only recently seen ‘Alien’ and the original ‘Total Recall’ (and I prefer the remake!), but I think some things are bound to slip through the net occasionally.
How did you get involved with the Emerald Garrison?
Quite by chance actually. I wasn’t really sure what the Garrison was as a group before I joined. I attended Invasion Belfast last year at W5 and put my hair in Leia buns because it felt like the right thing to do – I obviously had costuming in my blood! When I stood with Obi-Wan and Anakin (Ep 3 Versions), I posed and a staff member – a Grand Moff, no less – approached me and told me that I looked just like Leia and that I posed well. She said they had an opening. I never looked back.
Was the Princess Leia costume your idea?
I suppose it was really the Moff’s idea! It was the perfect costume to start with. Relatively simple to make and with lots of reference pictures. It also worked well for the Garrison as they were missing a key original trilogy character at the time. Leia does well with all the little girls (and some of the dads too!) so I always get a lot of attention, so she was the perfect costume to begin with. I really love doing Leia, and she goes fantastically with Vader, TKs and anyone really. Even R2. I just hate doing the buns!
Why did you decide to add Merida to your costumes?
Everyone in the Garrison told me that costumes were like tattoos – once you have one, you want more. I scoffed at the time, and now I think I might be an addict. I was at time time planning on Ahsoka (she’s still in the works) but she was working out quite involved, lengthy and expensive. I saw the trailer for ‘Brave’ and decided that I was going to do Merida before the three minutes were up. I loved the character, the story and above all the costume. She looked so fantastic. Plus it’s nice to be armed with something substantial after running around with a little E-11 as Leia – and that was only when the TKs didn’t want to arrest me!
Anything you’d like to have as a costume?
I can think of a million costumes I want to do. The one I keep returning to is a Na’vi, though due to logistics (such as height and nudity required!) I don’t know if it will ever happen for me. Besides that? Ahsoka (Clone Wars), Rapunzel (Tangled), Misty (Pokemon), Kaylee (Firefly), Velma (Scooby-Doo), Daenerys (Game of Thrones), even a female version of Captain America!
What was your first troop like? Were you surprised by people’s reactions?
My first troop was the very first Heroes & Legends Convention. It was incredible. It was such an amazing feeling to be dressed as such an iconic character. Its great to see the kids’ faces too when they see you. Most of them seem to genuinely believe that you ARE Princess Leia, and that’s a wonderful feeling as well. It felt like celebrity except a million times better, plus the knowledge that its done in the name of charity is the cherry atop the cake.
Having attended the Garrison’s shows myself, I knew to an extent what to expect but never imagined the excitement and interest that I experienced. It’s quite overwhelming to be surrounded by people waiting for photographs, but its also a very good one, and rewarding to see little girls’ faces when you shake your hand and introduce yourself as Princess Leia.
Of all the celebrities you’ve met, who’s been your favourite?
I only really started talking to the celebrity guests at events this year. Will Simpson the ‘Game of Thrones’ storyboard artist is a really great guy and so was Ian Whyte. James Cosmo was very lovely and we were very honoured to have him this year. He was lovely to speak to and very willing to do a few fun things for us, like pose with Mr. Tumnus in the Narnia set. However, the most memorable this year was probably Martine Beswick who was just completely lovely and chatty. She really seemed pleased to be there she was very game taking photos with Meria, Arwen and She-Ra! A very lovely lady.
You’ve worked on television and movies too haven’t you. Can you tell us about that?
I started out doing Extra work with Extras NI. I worked on things like the George Best drama shot here a few years and ago and danced on ‘Your Highness’. When the first season of ‘Game of Thrones’ came around, I’d established myself as reliable, and I was also the perfect height for Daenerys – Emilia Clarke, so I was hired as her stand-in for the first season. I also did work for Catelyn and at times Cersei and Sansa. I did a bit of work as Catelyn’s riding double in Episode four as well. By the second season I was doing A.D work full time on the production, and worked on Season Three as well. It is very hard work and very long days but the experience is invaluable and the people I worked with are fantastic friends and great people to know. The best way to make good contacts is to jump head-long into the business – get out there!
Acting’s a passion for you too isn’t it?
Yes, it’s what I’ve always done and what I’ve always wanted to do. I love it. I’ve attended stage schools throughout my life and now I’m starting to get real opportunities and jobs. I’ve been putting in the legwork for a while so its great to be reaping some of the benefits now – I really love the acting work. There’s no buzz like it in the world! I even got my first cast role in Television on Game of Thrones this year. So fingers crossed for the future!
What gives you the greatest satisfaction when trooping?
I really love catching up with everyone. The Garrison really is like a big family. I don’t know where they’ve been all my life – I can’t believe it took me this long to find them, but I’ve only been with them a year and I have made a lot of really great, warm, rewarding friendships that I feel have already lasted a lifetime. Everyone has the same interests and its a great feeling when I’m in a room full of people and a phone rings with the Star Wars theme as a ringtone- I know I’m in the right place! However, the greatest satisfaction probably comes from peoples’ reactions – its so clear how much everyone enjoys Garrison events. The most rewarding thing is knowing you’ve really brightened a lot of peoples’ day; given them an experience they will not forget anytime soon! Its very like acting in a way.
If you could be in any movie what would it be and as who?
That’s a difficult question. If it was a movie that hasn’t been made yet, I would obviously have to say Episode VII! Probably as Jaina Solo or Mara Jade Skywalker!If it was a movie that has already been made, I would want to be River Tam, in ‘Serenity’ I imagine. But I could answer a million times over, that’s the first thing that came into my head, probably because I can see the DVD cover from where I’m sitting! I would say I’d love to have been the original Lady Croft too!
Has anyone ever told you you’d be a great Amy Pond?
Ha! No1 You’re definitely the first! I’ve heard Emily Blunt before, but I don’t see either of them!
Do you think costuming will be a passion that never dies for you?
Costuming is so close to acting, which I know will never die for me, that I think it will stay with me forever. The Garrison is a very big and rewarding part of my life and I would hate to think of it disappearing in the future. I don’t think I will ever lose my love for this world. I think its part of me!
Kelly thank you so much. See you at the next troop!