It’s always Halloween for Becky Young. When she’s not auditioning for acting roles or working as a consultant for video game companies, Young, an Orrington native who splits her time between Maine and Los Angeles, is carefully crafting costumes, perfecting wigs and firing up her hot glue gun.
When she puts those handmade costumes on, she is transformed into characters like Disney’s Tinkerbell, Black Widow from “The Avengers,” Harley Quinn from “Batman” or Pinky Pie from “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.” She’s an avid participant in the world of cosplay — or “costume play” — in which participants wear costumes and accessories to portray a fictional character, usually from comic books, video games, movies, anime or television. Young attends pop culture and comic conventions, or “cons” all over the country, portraying those characters.
“When I go to a con, I’m really portraying a character. I’m giving people the full experience,” said Young. “If I’m playing Belle [from ‘Beauty and the Beast’], I really want to play the character. I want little girls to get that experience. I immerse myself in it. It’s addictive.”
Young is one of nine fellow cosplayers — eight women, one man — starring in the new SyFy Channel series “Heroes of Cosplay,” a documentary-style show that follows its subjects as they attend conventions, showing how they make their costumes, get into character and interact with fans. The six-episode run premieres at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13.
Young grew up in Orrington, performed in community theater in the Bangor area throughout much of her youth, and graduated from Brewer High School in 1997; her father and sister still live in the area. She moved to New York City to study musical theater and acting, and later moved to Virginia and then to California, to pursue careers in both acting and the video game industry.
Her interest in cosplay grew out of her love of video games and of gamer culture in general, though it turned into an important creative outlet for her, combining elements of design, sewing and performance into one colorful package.
“I’ve always loved video games and movies and cartoons and things like that, so it was kind of a natural outgrowth. Plus, making all these costumes involves a ton of creativity,” said Young, who has been doing cosplay seriously since 2006. “Every little element has to be just right, or it ruins the effect. I’ve colored every strand of hair on a wig with Sharpies just to get the color right.”
Young is an active participant in so-called “geek” culture, and not just as a cosplayer. She is one of the creators of the Girls Entertainment Network, a network for women in the gaming and comics communities, and she is a recurring guest on “Attack of the Show” on the G4 Network, as well as still consulting for the creation of various video game titles.
On “Heroes of Cosplay,” Young and her cosplay comrades take the floor at conventions as a variety of characters, some world famous, some more cultish — from Princess Leia and Daenarys Targaryen from “Game of Thrones” to characters from Japanese series like “Vampire Hunter D” and “Sailor Moon.” Young enjoys portraying heroes from comics and movies as well as Disney characters, for which she has a special affinity.
“I love making little kids happy,” she said. “I love becoming that character and putting a smile on their faces. I get to become all these amazing characters for a day. It’s just the most fun thing ever.”