Dexerto sits down with rising cosplay star Summerdru to talk all things TikTok fame, My Hero Academia, League of Legends, and her bid to fight the “double standards Black cosplayers face every day.”
Meet Summer “Summerdru” Corbin.
The young cosplay star is in the middle of studying public relations, minoring in Japanese, loves anime — My Hero Academia a very clear favorite — and has built a massive 372,000-strong following based around her costumes, detailed face designs, and activism when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement.
She’s an online star very much on the rise.
Summer is halfway through getting ready to host friends when she answers my call. Even in today’s climate, where any kind of gathering feels like a blessing, this is a special occasion for the rising cosplay star: her first in-person collab.
“I’m really excited!” she tells Dexerto. “It’s actually the first time I’ve done something like this. Most of my cosplay friends are online, so it will be special.”
They have a bundle of plans already; group shots, characters interacting, the whole nine yards. Katsuki Bakugo, Izuku Midoriya, Eijiro Kirishima, Nobara Kugisaki, and more are all on the cosplay menu for the three-day party.
The multi-day shoot marks a milestone moment for Corbin, 19, who is still a relatively fresh-faced cosplayer. Her first cosplay post on her official Instagram profile, @Summerdru, is a full-face art piece of Bleach’s Zangetsu, back in Nov. 2018. By mid-2019 she’d graduated to costumes like Itachi Uchiha, MHA firebrand Shoto Todoroki, and DC villain Poison Ivy.
It’s been a meteoric rise for Summerdru in the past two years.
First on Twitter (she boasts 46.6k followers there), then Instagram (19.3k), and recently TikTok (a jaw-dropping 306.7k follow her on the popular video platform).
“It’s very inspiring to have a big following on TikTok, because it’s a bit more of a cosplay community there compared to Instagram or something. My entire ‘For You’ page is just other cosplayers!” she laughed.
“Sometimes I just scroll for hours. I think I only follow like ten people that aren’t cosplayers, or they make anime content. It’s all very supportive, which I love.”
@summerdruit never ends 😩 ##mhacosplay ##jjkcosplay ##haikyuucosplay ##bnhacosplay ##dekucosplay ##bnha ##nobaracosplay ##minacosplay♬ original sound – Guy McLachlan
More importantly than just the chance to build her own community though, Summer tells Dexerto, is the ability to “build up Black cosplayers” on the growing platform. Where sites like Instagram and Twitter can feel very “hostile,” she explains, there’s only been “acceptance” across TikTok throughout the last two years.
Even TikTok doesn’t make it easy though. The ByteDance-owned app often “hides popular cosplays from Black creators,” Summer says, or lowers their reach.
“It’s so important for Black cosplayers to lift each other up. If we’re sharing the stuff that we do, even if TikTok isn’t showing it much, liking it, commenting, sharing, that all gets it to the top, and gives cosplayers more of a chance,” she said.
Then, if the post does actually land, Black content creators are forced through “disgusting” comments that pour in right from the start.
Summer continues: “One of the biggest problems [in cosplay] is that people have an online platform to be racist or colorist. Black cosplayers will get comments like ‘oh, you can’t cosplay them,’ because they’re not Black. Then, when a white cosplayer does someone like Deku [MHA’s Midoriya], there’s this deafening silence.
“It’s just the biggest double standards, because Deku is a Japanese character. It’s clear that kind of backlash isn’t about different races, it’s about being Black.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me. People love white cosplayers, and that’s not a problem, there’s a lot of really talented white cosplayers! But I just feel like the same energy needs to be kept towards cosplayers of all races.
“The way people react, like that, takes a lot of the fun away from it. We’re just trying to do something we enjoy. Don’t tell us we can’t because of our race.”
@summerdrugonna make a video about my wigs/outfits soon guys! Promise I’m not just ignoring your questions 😭 ##mha ##mhacosplay ##dekucosplay ##bnha ##bnhacosplay♬ Greek Tragedy (Oliver Nelson TikTok Remix) – The Wombats
So, Summer loops back around: In her eyes, it’s so important for Black creators to lift each other up time and time again, no matter what anyone says. It’s a mission she wants to see stretch to all cosplayers too.
“I believe the cosplay community would be a lot better if everyone was very open-minded. It’s all so appearance-based, Black cosplayers, plus-size cosplayers will be ridiculed for doing cosplays that they don’t look like,” she explained.
“Isn’t becoming someone else the point of cosplay? You love this character, you want to show off how much you like them, and you want to embody that character. There shouldn’t be a requirement for anyone to look like the heroes and characters they become. Otherwise, it would be so hard for everyone.
She added: “I feel degraded when people say I can’t be a character. I love so many, I want to do them all! To tell me ‘no, you can’t, we can’ blows my mind.”
Summerdru has blocked out the haters across social media, and cosplayed whoever she wants. That includes, of course, a bundle of My Hero Academia characters, from Midoriya to Todoroki, to Camie Utsushimi, Bakugo, and Mt. Lady. She doesn’t have plans to slow down anytime soon either.
“I always want to cosplay My Hero Academia characters! I just cosplay who I want, not necessarily what’s popular. That’s what matters most to me,” she said.
On top of that, she’s been playing League of Legends recently, and is already eyeing costumes from Riot’s popular MOBA: “I really like Ahri; maybe I could do Neeko, I love her design… Sivir and Kai’Sa too. There’s just so many!”
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Summerdru is also planning an “eventual” Twitch debut. Keep your eyes peeled on the cosplayer’s social profiles for when she plans to go live for the first time!