There’s a good chance you first became aware of Jessica Nigri thanks to her world-famous “Sexy Pikachu” cosplay. Perhaps you’re one of the cosplay queen’s nearly 725,000 Twitter followers, 2.8 million Instagram followers, YouTube subscribers or Patreon patrons. Or maybe you’re a fan of Nigri’s voice work, like her role on Rooster Teeth’s hit anime series RWBY as the villainous villainess Cinder Fall. But even if you’ve been following Nigri’s career over the last decade or so, there’s a good chance her new documentary Becoming Jessica Nigri will give you some insight into her daily life and the surprising vulnerability that exists beneath her cosplay-friendly exterior.
I had a chance to chat with Nigri between her many, many cosplay photoshoots in order to dig into her documentary a bit more. We talked about what made Rooster Teeth the right company with the right people to pull off such a project, and why this was the right time to share her most personal moments with the world. The documentary offers an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look into her life, both pre- and post-San Diego Comic-Con 2009. Two things become clear very quickly: Nigri is a life-long nerd and she remains incredibly grateful to be supported by the community, a community she’s equally grateful to be a part of. For fans of Nigri, her cosplay, or simply the cosplay-curious, Becoming Jessica Nigri is a surprisingly insightful look into her life and her craft.
RT Docs’ Becoming Jesica Nigri will arrive for Rooster Teeth FIRST members at 3pm ET today, so there’s still time to sign up if you haven’t just yet!
Before we get into the interview, check out a trailer for the documentary below:
Jessica Nigri is an internationally renowned cosplayer with millions of followers across social media. Directed by Mat Hames, Becoming Jessica Nigri explores Nigri’s life, from a magical childhood growing up with quirky parents in New Zealand, to entering middle school in the U.S. where she was mercilessly teased for her “nerdy” interests. Through cosplay, Nigri learned that becoming someone else gives her the courage to be herself.
So why is this the right time for your documentary?
Jessica Nigri: I’ve been fairly private about my personal life. I’ve been approached by other companies to do a documentary about cosplay and about my life, but I’ve never felt comfortable. With Rooster Teeth, I felt like I could just totally surrender myself and my vulnerabilities because it’s such a huge part of my life. So it felt right, it felt good.
What made Rooster Teeth the right fit for this?
Nigri: Rooster Teeth has such an amazing community and they’ve always had such a beautiful perspective on inclusiveness and family, I would say. I’ve followed Rooster Teeth since the Red vs Blue days, the very first season, so their humor is my humor, their comedy is right on par with what I like. I grew up with them, essentially. I like to look at Burnie [Burns] as my dad. [laughs] It feels like they’ve been in my life this whole time and it feels as if they’re not going to take anything the wrong way; they’re going to look at me the right way, the way that I want to be seen.
Before, with the other people, I didn’t really feel like I deserved it, and I didn’t understand why people would approach me for that. But in talking with Rooster Teeth, and how reassuring and amazing they were with everything, it just felt right. They approached me because we’ve slowly been building our relationships, which has been wonderful and amazing and inclusive. It’s just been such a positive experience for me; it felt so natural.
What was your reaction to the idea of going ahead with this documentary?
Nigri: I was excited. I was really excited to just kind of open up because I really haven’t, ever. They made it really easy, they worked with my schedule, they were very accommodating and very considerate to my needs and everything. It was just a really good experience.
Did you have any moments during filming where it was difficult opening up?
Nigri: Yeah, there were a couple of times where there was self-reflection and self-actualization, things that I’ve always kind of known about myself but never put into words. To have someone there to be like, ‘This is what’s going on and this is what’s happening,’ that was startling but comforting in a way. I’m really bad at conveying what I think and feel into words in a way that people can understand, so to have somewhere there to help me kind of put that into a sentence was really, really nice.