Cosplayer Interview: Crystal Santoro


One of the ideas I’ve had for my editorial spot is to do interviews with cosplayers great and small, new and experienced. In this, it is my hope to inspire people who may be on the fence about delving into a great hobby, learn what drew others in and in general, find out more about them as a person! If you’re interested in following Crystal on social media, her Twitter is here and her Instagram is here! Her Instagram may not be 100% PG, so fair warning! Everyone’s journey is different, and maybe learning about another cosplayer will help others! It’s certainly my pleasure to do these interviews, and I hope to have more of them on the way very soon! And we aren’t working alone here!  Some fantastic photographers made these photographs possible!

Jayce Williams: PhotosNXS

Dennis George: Style and Grace Photo

Tommy Penny: East Coast Exposure

Alexander Okieff: [has no social media outlet but he’s awesome anyway]

Jason:  Crystal, how long have you been cosplaying?

Crystal:  Well I’ve been cosplaying since before I even knew there was a word for it. I have played Tomb Raider since the game came out when I was four and since then I have always wanted to dress up like Lara Croft and do fun and cool things like her. I think my first time getting dressed with the expectation of looking like Lara Croft happened when I was about 10 or so, So 13 years ago.  Then a few years after that I learned about the word cosplay and what the cosplay community was…then the addiction started..

Jason:  I also hear tell that you have been on at least one archaeological dig! What was that like?

Crystal:  A lot of hard work! There is a lot of digging involved (who’da thunkit.) and when you are working outside that also means a lot of freezing temperatures or sweating depending on the time of year. I loved it though, got to learn so many new things and see some really neat stuff that no one had seen in a few hundred years because it was underground. Plus working outside and with your hands tends to make for a great work day and an even better night’s sleep 😉

Jason:  Speaking of which, Lara Croft is well known for being an archaeologist, and you yourself are known for portraying Lara Croft! Is this a coincidence, or did one influence the other?

Crystal:  Oh my gameplay and love for Lara Croft definitely influenced my love for archaeology. Like I said earlier, I have been playing since I was four and have played almost every game made since (including some of the mobile games they had for the first online phones) Because Tomb Raider and Lara Croft had such a huge influence in my life it is safe to say that roaming those first few games paved the way for my current obsession with archaeology. I have a degree in anthropology and love studying ancient cultures and I think it’s because I spent so much of my childhood in the game.

Jason:  What inspired you to start up cosplaying as a hobby?

Crystal:  I  started cosplaying because when I realized that there were other people that had games and pop culture in their lives in such a pivotal way like I did I knew I wanted to meet them. I wanted to see how other people’s lives had been shaped because of these creations, video games, comic books, etc. I knew the huge role that Tomb Raider had in my life and knowing that there are other people in the same boat as me that had the same passion as me that would accept me and RECOGNIZE that I was dressed up as Lara Croft. That opens doors and I realized it didn’t have to just be Lara Croft. I could cosplay ANY character I wanted to. Which leads to a very expensive and time consuming creative addiction.

Jason:  You’ve also done some non-cosplay modeling; boudoir and the like. What inspired you to give that a try?

Crystal:  How personal are we trying to get here?! Haha. Well in all honesty I went through a rough period of depression during my freshman and sophomore year in university and one day my mom sat me down and asked what I like to do for fun. I realized that I couldn’t give her an answer I felt confident in (other than video games) and that made things worse for about two weeks. Then one day like a light switch I remembered taking my high school senior photos. I told her that was what I thought was fun and made me happy. A few weeks later I had a gig booked with a local photographer and here we are five years later with as much love and fire (if not more) for modeling as I have ever had. Modeling in general pulls me out of my depression and makes me happy. It allows me to express myself and be a different person, especially cosplay modeling. I can feel confident, talented, and like I’m really making progress in my abilities. I guess in a way, the “normal” modeling came before modeling in cosplay, but cosplay came before the modeling in the timeline of my life.

Jason: Do you have a hero or role model that you look up to?

Crystal:  Fictional: Definitely Lara Croft, she is a confident, strong, independent, powerful, sexy woman that seems to be able to overcome any obstacle and I love that about her. It’ what I always wanted to be growing up.  Reality: My parents. My mom and dad have always pushed me to be the best I can be, have confidence in myself, not give up and fight for everything. They trust me to follow my dreams and be awesome. I don’t think they expected the weird side effects of me being…. Well.. Weird. But they got that too 😉

Jason: Do you have any cosplay ideas that you’re throwing around that you might want to share?

Crystal:  I’ve got tons of things that I’d like to do, but at the current moment I don’t have anything that has plans behind it or any deadlines.

Jason: I ask this of pretty much everyone, but do you have any secrets or tips you want to give to would-be cosplayers?

Crystal: You like that character? That character has a special place in your heart, life or mind. Bring them to life for YOUR benefit. Show the world how you see that character without worrying if you are the right gender, body type, ethnicity, whatever. This is your opportunity to express how much you love that character and have fun. It doesn’t have to impress anyone if you don’t want it to. Or just the opposite you can aim high and knock everyone’s socks off. That’s the beauty of a huge group of adults and teenagers playing dress up; you’re playing dress up in a room with other people playing dress up. HAVE FUN

Jason: What is your favorite part of cosplaying?

Crystal:  Getting to bring an important character that I feel a connection with to life. Bringing someone who is otherwise “fiction” into the real world and getting into character so much so that you can really tell that people aren’t even sure you’re NOT that character

Jason:  And something irrelevant: Top five favorite fictional characters!

Crystal:   In no order whatsoever, Lara Croft, Buffy Summers (the vampire slayer), Captain America, Elektra, and I’ll leave one open to whatever mood I’m in that week 🙂

Thanks for reading everyone! Crystal also has a store right here if you are interested in prints of her work! There will be more of these to come as the weeks roll on! Some big names, some local names, and much much more! Stay tuned for the next Cosplayer Interview!


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