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The Countess of Cosplay

Featured Photo from The Countess of Cosplay

This Oviedo actress brings her favorite pop-culture characters to life

As a kid, Trenell Mooring didn’t want to settle for the generic, run-of-the-mill Halloween costumes that fill store shelves every fall.


“I’ve always loved Halloween, and I’ve always loved costumes,” says the 45-year-old Oviedo resident, “but I never wanted to wear the plastic masks. I always wanted to be slightly different.”


Costumes still factor heavily into Trenell’s life and not just on October 31. That’s because she is a professional actress and a major cosplay hobbyist (cosplay is the art of dressing up like your favorite characters from movies, TV, comic books, and more). Much of Trenell’s time is spent wearing fabulous costumes, wigs, and makeup that help her transform into someone else.


Acting and cosplay share “an element of fantasy and make believe,” she says.

But while acting is a profession that Trenell takes very seriously, cosplaying is purely for fun.


An acting coach once told Trenell that actors need to have a hobby outside of work because of the unpredictable nature of show business. She took his advice to heart.

“Cosplay is what I chose, and I think it’s great,” she says. “Sometimes, things aren’t really happening in my acting career. And with cosplay, I always have something to sew. I always have something to do.”


An avid cosplayer since 2010, Trenell has attended MegaCon in Orlando, Dragon Con in Atlanta, and Costume College, a costuming arts conference in the Los Angeles area. She has made eye-catching costumes to embody characters from film and television, including the movies Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, and The Fifth Element.


A Central Florida resident since 1985, Trenell graduated from the University of Florida with an advertising degree and an outside concentration in theater. She then attended a two-year program at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City before returning to Florida.


Trenell is a longtime performer at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios Florida. Her varied roles at the parks include a Jedi at Disney and a Harry Potter wandkeeper at Universal. The petite actress is also an audience favorite at Mad Cow Theatre in Orlando and freeFall Theatre in St. Petersburg, and she regularly performs at the Orlando Shakes PlayFest and Orlando Fringe, among other venues.

 

Although Trenell builds her own costumes for cosplay conventions, she leaves her attire for the professional acting gigs to the wardrobe departments. The first cosplay garment she sewed for herself was a corset; this year, she’s trying her hand at making a bustle.

 

Of the 20-plus cosplay costumes she has made, two attract the most attention. One is her bad Uhura outfit from the Mirror, Mirror episode of the Star Trek TV show. At a MegaCon event, Trenell – dressed as Uhura – was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet Nichelle Nichols, the original actress to portray the groundbreaking character. The two posed for a picture together, an experience Trenell describes as “amazing and cool.”


“The other attention-getting costume is when I do Eartha Kitt as Catwoman – I’ve been told I look like her,” says Trenell, who bears more than a passing resemblance to the late entertainer.


Catwoman isn’t the only Kitt character that Trenell gravitates toward. She loves crafting cosplay mash-ups, mixing characters, genres, and clothing fabrics. Most of those mash-ups involve Yzma, a character from the Disney animated film The Emperor’s New Groove. The over-the-top Yzma was voiced by none other than Eartha Kitt.


Although Trenell’s sewing skills are mostly self-taught, she did receive some rudimentary instruction when she was about 11 years old.


“This little old lady would get some of the neighborhood girls together and teach us basic knitting and sewing,” recalls Trenell, who now has a dedicated sewing room in her home.


Trenell’s son, Isaiah, is also into cosplay, so her super-creative hobby has become a fun way for the two of them to bond. Every year, they indulge in a mother-son day at MegaCon. And of course, Trenell makes their costumes.


A few years ago, she put together an adorable Lando Calrissian outfit (from Star Wars) for Isaiah and a cute Lando’s Mom costume for herself. These days, Isaiah – a seventh grader at Jackson Heights Middle School – is a big fan of video games and anime. But Trenell doesn’t know as much about those genres as Isaiah does, so making their costumes requires a lot of extra research on her part. As a result, Trenell has settled on an easier strategy for their shared cosplay days. From now on, she has decided to take her cue from the his-and-hers Lando costumes she sewed.


“To make life easier on myself, I’m just going to do the mom version of whatever he does,” Trenell says with a laugh. “I’m going to make the apron in the matching color for myself and call it a day.”


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