Interview with Jordan Blaza Olsen
The Girl with a Great Smile
When the love of cosplay grows into a way to help promote inclusivity and equity there you will find Jordan Blaza Olsen. In the cosplay world she is known for her stunning designs bringing to life very impressive characters to convention floors. When not cosplaying, she stays very busy with everything from music and film to modeling and has founded her career on public health and social justice with emphasis on HIV Prevention and Transgender Health.
The Geek Post was very happy to get to ask Jordan some questions about her love of cosplay and her life.
GeekPost: Your cosplay portfolio is impressive to say the least. How did you get into cosplay? Favorite character?
Jordan: I got into cosplay sometime after my niece, who was a teenager at the time, told me to check out a local anime convention she goes to. She’s very creative and made her own cosplays and she knew I made costumes and gowns, so she thought I’d enjoy it. It wasn’t until a couple of years later when I went with a friend to a comic convention in Palm Springs. I was already making costumes for myself before that, for pageants, stage shows, and when I worked in a nightclub where we had different themes on Friday nights. But that convention is when I feel I really got into cosplay. The excitement from thinking about what I want to make, basically who I want to become, all the way to wearing it and showing it off on the con floor. It’s a thrill especially when fans of the character recognize what I’m wearing, and their faces light up.
I’d say my favorite character to cosplay is Gundam Wing, which is a mecha that’s operated by a human character. When I made that cosplay, I wanted to look like the toy figure I was using as a reference, and it was so fun trying to figure out how to make it work for me. It’s not the most comfortable to wear but when people see me in it, its jaw dropping.
Photo by Photographer Nate Takes
Part of my work is promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. I wish the same thing for cosplay and cosplay media. -Jordan Blaza Olsen
GeekPost: How do you decide what character you are going to cosplay next?
Jordan: I used to be heavily influenced by what’s popular or something that will make me look hot and sexy. Then I realized what made me happy are characters that are heavily armored or with a giant prop. I use cosplay as art therapy to help me process thoughts and feelings that are hard to express with words. My therapist helped me realize the characters I choose tend to reflect what I’m working on personally like armors make me feel protected and large weapons make me feel powerful. But during the pandemic that shifted to characters that are just fun to make myself into. When the global lockdown started, I gave myself a challenge to do closet-cosplay of some X-Men characters. It was like when I was a kid playing dress up using curtains, bed sheets, basically whatever I have in my closet and around the house. Now that we’re sort of in a new normal, I’m picking characters that make me say, “wow, I want to BE that character”. Lately I’ve been choosing characters mainly for my own enjoyment even if they’re obscure and unpopular.
GeekPost: Any advice for people that are wanting to get into cosplay?
Jordan: Because cosplay is literally costume plus play, I say always remember to have fun, to play in the costume. Otherwise, it’s not going to be enjoyable. I think they should look up how cosplay started and not get caught up in what it’s become, which tends to be about popularity and money. There’s nothing wrong with that but they need to know it’s hard work to get to a certain level and cosfame does not necessarily mean financial success or happiness. It’s a serious business that can take a lot out of a person. If that’s what they want, then they need to have a business plan. So, I recommend getting into cosplay to have a creative outlet first, to express yourself, to attend conventions and experience a different way of socializing. Cosplay can be a great way to make meaningful friendships built around certain fandoms. Watch tutorials on how to make stuff and try out techniques or even come up with your own way of making stuff.
Interview Continues Below
Photo by Ransensaito Saito
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Photo by Aaron Powell / Ram Entertainment
GeekPost: Where do you find the time to do everything that you do?
Jordan: Now I have time to make stuff and go to conventions because I’m at a point in life where I’m only working part time. I just turned 51 last year and I’m not about the hustle anymore. I learned to work smarter, not harder. Back then I had a full-time job weekdays, a part time job on weekends, I was also getting my bachelor’s degree, and was active in my church. When I made costumes for shows or pageants, it was a hobby to relieve the stress from work, school and relationships. Thankfully life is now simpler and easier for me, so making cosplay and doing appearances is not stressful. Time management is not common for cosplayers but it can be learned.
GeekPost: Do you have any hobbies other than cosplaying?
Jordan: I think the other fun things I do aren’t really hobbies but more like leisurely pursuits because they’re more about a career I wanted to go into. I’m currently with Transgender Talent, LLC for acting and Key Change Ensemble for music. I paused the acting pursuit because I know my limit on what I have energy for and that also takes a lot of time, energy, practice, and studying. I’m also a singer and songwriter, and I’m working with a couple of music producers on two songs to follow a song and music video we released last year. Music is another way I’m able to creatively express myself. I also learned how to co-direct and co-produce my music video so after I finish my new songs, I want to help other artists in our agency to work on their personal projects. Performing arts is another great form of self-expression.
GeekPost: Do you consider yourself a geek? What does that mean to you?
Jordan: I consider myself a geek now. But, when I was in high school, I took offense to the word geek because it’s used to put down people who were different, socially awkward, and weird. But geeks tend to be different because we kind of love obsessing over something unpopular or uncommon. We know so much about our hobbies, like cosplay and different fandoms, that an average person wouldn’t know about or care about. Now a geek is someone with a specialty and can make a successful career out of it. I’m a geek because I can tell you some obscure details about my cosplay and the character I’m cosplaying, which is more trivia for an average person, but means something more to me.
GeekPost: The Geek Post champions inclusivity in all of geekdom. If you could put a wish list together to better inclusivity of your hobbies, what would it be?
Jordan: Part of my work is promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. I wish the same thing for cosplay and cosplay media. Diversity would mean representation that is broad coverage of various ethnic groups, gender identity and expression, age and capabilities. Equity would mean making cosplay and media representation to be a low barrier so the hobbyists can get something out of it whether it be to promote their cosplay business or simply showcase their work. And inclusion would mean inviting diverse people to the table, giving them a seat, and their thoughts and their voice are listened to and valued. There’s so much we can learn from each other and if cosplay can be a gateway for community building then we should go for it.
GeekPost: You are a cosplayer, model, singer, actor, outspoken public health advocate and consultant. I know this barely scrapes the surface. What is the most important thing that you want our readers to know about you?
Jordan: One of the most important things about me is I’m still learning how to flow with everything that life has thrown at me. It’s been said, “It gets better”, and it does, we just have to hang in there. The pictures and videos I share on social media are just a glossy preview of my life and not a full representation of all that goes on. I know I’m not the only person that has gone through some tough times or going through it right now. And I also know I’m not the only one who has found comfort in cosplay because it takes us to that safe space, a fun and happy space, we get to express another side of us or become something or someone that represents who we are inside. Cosplay can be a mask that hides a person’s true self, or it can be an extension, a representation of who and what the person is inside and out, all the good and all the bad, it can be a reflection of the person behind the cosplay.
The Geek Post would like to thank The Girl with a Great Smile, Jordan Blaza Olsen, for taking time in her busy schedule to let us all get to know her some. Make sure to show your support by following her social media and visiting her website (links below).