Interviewed By Justin D Williams
Otakus & Geeks chat with Cosplayer, Singer and member of Doll form MYX TV Stephanie Sandmeier. We talk about the season finale on "The Doll Life", her geeky origins and some serious topics such as cyber bullying and slut shaming. Stephanie has been one of the Dolldelight models from the very beginning. Now as the head model, her primary duties are to help recruit local models for the fashion shows and mentor new girls. Stephanie’s outspoken, tomboy personality is often at odds with the sweet, girly Dolldelight look. In addition to modeling, Stephanie is also the booking agent for the J-Rock band known as Lolita Dark and is a singer and cosplayer.
Otakus & Geeks: Can you give a little bit of a background of how did you get into the whole geek culture of Lolita, Cosplay etc?
I was immersed in geek culture when I first saw Sailor Moon like many 90s kids. The sparkles, girl power and teamwork looked like how a community was supposed to be. Growing up, it was hard to find a group of friends but the geek community at school was the most welcoming and warm. Cosplay was something I never knew of until high school at my first Anime Expo. "Wtf is this?! You can do that?!" was my first response to it all and slowly I got into trying it out with Kairi, Songstress Yuna, Mulan, Ping, Jedi Mulan, and Rufio. I didn’t get into dolly style (note: dolly style is the preferred name rather than Lolita) until after high school when I saw a casting call for dolldelight's Monterrey Park Cherry Blossom Festival. I saw Cyril’s fashion and loved how edgy it was. For the longest time, I thought you had to be a specific shape and color to cosplay and to model, and that you had to be tall, skinny, and drop dead gorgeous. Turns out that's not true at all! As long as you can feel confident and radiate that confidence you can do whatever you want!
Otakus & Geeks: What has your experience been like on The Doll Life and how have you’ve grown as an artist from being on the show?
Being on "The Doll Life" has been very eye-opening as well as challenging. It's a life-learning process where you grow as a person as well as expand on your abilities. When you do or say something on TV you are judged for exactly that. I'm honestly a little hesitant to step foot in Little Tokyo for the safety of me and my friends because of who I am on "The Doll Life". As an artist, it's been an intricate web of challenges, decisions and inspirations that open doors of creativity and opportunity. Do I want to create things (be it fashion, music, photography, painting, music) because of this show? OF COURSE. Let's Taylor Swift this!
Otakus & Geeks: What can we expect from the finales of this season?
As viewers can see in the finale (which you can watch any time on myxtv.com), Stevie's hard work lit up the stage at the Pride Con Fashion Show. This was my favorite part of the finale. You can tell he worked with dedication on those dresses and despite all the crazy mishaps his debut was a complete success! His models were amazing and it was beautiful to see his family, who traveled a long distance, witness his debut fashion show!
Otakus & Geeks: This season compare to the last one there were a lot of issues such as racism, cyberbullying and slut shaming. What is like experiencing that first hand?
Dealing with issues like racism, cyberbullying and slut shaming was/is/and will always be intense! To be the one "slut shaming" is hard because as an individual I believe you should be free to do whatever you want with your body but you must also be mindful of those around you and how it will affect them. Tackling these issues can be strenuous but we all did it in hopes that it would spread awareness.
Otakus & Geeks: With the way technology is and how easy it is for someone to feel safe behind the keyboard. It really makes someone who is in the spotlight, doing shows at conventions or television to develop a more thick skin. How have you grown from either witnessing or experience first hand the negativity?
As someone who has both witnessed and experienced negativity including cyberbullying and threats on my safety, as soon as you stop caring what those people think life is much more liberating. The threats (jokes or not) are still threats which should be reported to the authorities immediately!! The opinions that matter are your own and your closest allies. The people behind the keyboard are generally unhappy humans who want to take everyone else down to their level.
Otakus & Geeks: As geeks ourselves we as a culture are usually on the receiving end of stereotypes or not taken too seriously in this industry. However we also can be our own worst enemies and the most vile when it comes to social media by attacking our own instead of supporting. In the case of slut shaming in cosplay what are your views on the matter? We feel its ridiculous for any cosplayer portraying a character to be view as slutty if that was the original look or design of the outfit of the character. Especially when it comes to anime and it’s heavy fan service.
Slut shaming is an issue derived by insecure or conservative people who want to control the community whatever way they can. If you don't like it, don’t look at it. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, remove yourself from it. Don't think for one moment that insulting and threatening someone will make them stop doing what they enjoy. It never has and it never will. Shame on the shamer!
Otakus & Geeks: The Doll Life brings together groups of people from different backgrounds, lifestyles and social experiences. What personally have you valued the most being on the show?
It's hard to pick one when all the differences make such an impact. I believe that backgrounds are what create an individual; not a racial background but just the entire upbringing. What is it in someone's life that makes them who they are? Everyone goes through trials and how they approach, assess, and achieve is what makes them an individual. Each cast member has a different story, different trials, but they are all strong because of their past. They are all special because of who they are.
Otakus & Geeks: Finally how can our readers keep in touch with you?
If anyone wants to see what I do and who I am:
Snapchat & Twitter: @risukim