Ross Diong and the wonders of cosplay

As a kid growing up in Kenya, Filipino cosplayer Ross Diong fell in love with anime.

Ross Diong and the wonders of cosplay
Filipino cosplayer Ross Diong as Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman

As a kid growing up in Kenya, Filipino cosplayer Ross Diong fell in love with anime. It's a love affair that is still ongoing, and one that led her to the wonderful world of cosplay.

"I started cosplaying in 2012. Now that I recall, nobody introduced me to cosplay, really. I just found out through the internet. What attracted me to it was seeing people who looked like anime characters. You know since I was a kid I really loved watching anime and I would draw my own characters, too. Back in Africa (I grew up there), my siblings and I would always look forward to watching our fave anime and sometimes my mom would be our rival for the TV since back in the day it was our only way to watch. She also had her own TV soaps happening at the same time as our fave anime shows lol. It would always be 3 vs 1 but she would win most of the time. Luckily there were replays," Diong told Digital Life Asia.

Living in the moment

Marin Kitagawa from the manga and anime series 'My Dress-Up Darling'

Diong describes herself as a simple person who believes in living in the moment.

"I just want to have fun doing the things I do at the moment, whether it be cosplay, travel, dancing, or shopping. Enjoying the little things in life. During my spare time, I love eating, binge watching movies or series I find interesting, and sleeping," she said.

As compared to most cosplayers, Diong said that she hasn't portrayed that many characters.

"I only cosplay those I like and feel i can relate to," she said. "Of course, those are my fave characters like Wonder Woman, Viper from Valorant (since I play the game), Harley Quinn (I’m a huge DC fan and I love her), Yumeko Jabami ("Kakegurui") and others."

Asked who is her favorite among the characters she has cosplayed, Diong replied: "If I had to pick one, it would be Wonder Woman. I knew the character existed but back then I wouldn’t say I was a huge fan. I preferred Harley more. I only became a fan when I started playing Injustice: Gods Among Us. She was strong! I mean she still is lol and from then on I wanted to cosplay her in all her forms. When "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" came out, I grabbed the opportunity to cosplay her. I made my entire costume from scratch. I didn’t know people would like my cosplay of Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman. I got featured on a lot of sites and even the cosplay Queen in the Philippines, Alodia, loved and shared my cosplay. It was a huge achievement for me because I didn’t expect any recognition. I only really just wanted to put my talents to use through cosplay."

The cosplayer as gamer

Viper from the video game Valorant

Apart from anime, Diong also fell in love with gaming at a young age.

"I've been playing games since I was a kid. So when I was in Kenya, I would play with my brother and sister a lot, especially when my parents went out. The first game I played would probably have been a Family Computer (Editor's note: the Nintendo Famicom, which was released in the US as the Nintendo Entertainment System) game, but it was more than just one game. We played a couple of games, from Mario Bros., Pac-Man, Circus Charlie (a fave), and a lot more that I don't remember," she said.

Last year, Diong also started streaming games, including Valorant and Mobile Legends.

Asked to name her favorite game of all time, Diong replied: "I don't really have a favorite. My game preference changes as time goes by. I loved playing Ragnarok back in 2009. Now my fave would be Valorant."

Mighty Ross, cosplay studio owner

Mighty Thor from the movie 'Thor: Love and Thunder'

Diong is also launching her own cosplay studio called Ross Arté Studio – a "studio by a cosplayer for cosplayers".

Asked why she decided to start her own cosplay studio, Diong replied: "Well, it’s not entirely mine. I have a partner. We were thinking of starting a business for some time now. We ended up deciding on a photography studio, a themed one, since we felt like most studios are up north and as a cosplayer who lives in the south side of the metro, I’m not a big fan of all the traveling, especially with all the traffic. So we decided to make one closer to home, even for the other cosplayers who live in the south. It was always my dream to own a business. And now it's happened."

With the growing popularity of cosplay, Diong is also keenly aware that cosplayers should set a good example, especially to the younger generation.

"Recently there have been some issues I want my fellow cosplayers to be aware and mindful of. As adult cosplayers or if you are part of this group, we are responsible for how we will be perceived by the younger generation. As much as possible let’s try to be a good influence on them and make it a safe community for them. Let's make it better for everyone. Remember that everything we think and say and do has consequences for ourselves and for others," she said.

Diong also shared that she will have upcoming shoots with photographers who want to collaborate. One of her upcoming projects will be Yor Forger from the manga and anime series "Spy x Family".

"I still need make her costume," she said.

As for other projects, Diong said: "Maybe in a couple of months we will do a dance cover. And a lot more planned this year if all goes well. Just stay tuned to my page."

We're sure it will be worth the wait!