Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Cosplayers Celebrate Chicago’s Inaugural WakandaCon

*The first-ever WakandaCon was held in Chicago over the weekend and thousands of cosplayers gathered to celebrate the mythical African nation.

2,000 people reportedly attended the event, which ‘featured a costume parade, art demonstrations, celebrity panels and sessions on social activism, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, entrepreneurship and gender and racial equality in STEM fields,’ CNN reports.

According to the outlet, ‘all of the panelists were African-American — about half were women — and many of the vendors were local small businesses, who had never worked at a convention before.’

WakandaCon co-creator Ali Barthwell said she started planning the convention in March along with her brothers and two friends.

“[Wakanda is] a place free from racism, sexism and homophobia it’s a place of advanced technology,” Barthwell said. “We wanted to talk about the film, but we also wanted to answer the bigger question ‘How can we make a place like Wakanda real?’”

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Barthwell’s goal was to design a community event that was welcoming for fans of color.

“We had a lot of people who were cosplaying for the first time and kids wanting to dress up and it was really great,” she said.

Chicago math teacher David Mikel Etheridge rocked a different Killmonger costume for the 3-day event.

“I went as him for all three days because I wanted to stick with the Wakanda theme,” Etheridge said. “I am also a fan of the character and I think he is one of the best villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”

Like so many others, Etheridge hopes the group of five people who made WakandaCon a huge success are able to pull it off again next year.

Barthwell said WakandaCon was a tribute to the “Black Panther” film and not affiliated with Marvel or Disney.

“We’re doing this all out of love,” she said.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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