By Mark McConville
MEET the stunning young actress who bears such a striking resemblance to Arya Stark it’s like she’s just stepped out of Westeros.
Incredible images show Stefany Lauren (22), from Toronto, Canada, cosplaying as the popular Game of Thrones character in full costume and holding her trusted sword, Needle.
Other striking shots show Stefany in her everyday life where she could easily be mistaken for actress Maisie Williams and was told as much by Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor on the show.
Remarkably Stefany doesn’t think she looks like the Game of Thrones star at all but was persuaded to cosplay as Arya by her best friend.
“If I’m being honest, I don’t actually see any resemblance between us, other than the fact that we both have power brows,” she said.
“It was something that I was told for years but only recently did I ever start to play into it. I do however strongly remember a time when I was 16 or 17 and I was about to post a video before I finally caught a glimpse of what they were saying.
“In a panic, I promptly deleted it. Looking back on that now, it’s comical because there’s nothing wrong with having a similarity to someone else. It doesn’t diminish who you are as an individual.
“I did meet Kristian Nairn recently though and he absolutely lost his mind over the likeness of myself and my friends, which was super cool. He was such a sweet man and I’m so very thankful that I had the pleasure of saying hello.”
Playing on her likeness to Maisie Williams, Stefany has also tried out a few other of her characters including Ashildr from Doctor Who.
Cosplaying isn’t just for fun as Stefany is a budding actress herself and views cosplaying as ‘acting without the audition’.
“I find an absurd joy in breaking down a character and costume to analyze them,” she added.
“For me, a successful cosplay is one that I can fully embody with mannerisms and voice. If I can nail that, I’m happy.
“Nothing beats that moment when you see someone’s eyes light up because they are seeing their favourite character in the flesh. It’s a strange kind of magic that can really only ever be given through costuming. People of all ages suspend disbelief for a brief moment and in a world that can be so cruel and harsh, it’s beautiful to see that people still believe in imagination.
“When I was doing Rey, the looks on little girls faces as they ran up to me to tell me their hopes and dreams forever warms my heart. I will never forget one mother who came up to me in tears, thanking me for doing what I did because her daughter was heavily bullied for being into “boys’ things”.
“In seeing female characters who are celebrated for exactly that portrayed in the media and through cosplay, she found that she wasn’t alone or wrong in liking what she did. My heart broke for her but I’m forever grateful that I was able to be part of her journey, even in a small way. It was then that I knew that everything I was doing was really worth it.”
Stefany has more than 7,000 followers on Instagram where fans can keep up with her latest Arya Stark pictures.
As a stickler for accuracy Stefany usually makes her costumes herself to try and look like she has just ‘stepped out of the screen’.
“Sometimes I get incredibly lucky and find something in the wild or preloved,” she explained.
“For instance, my S4 costume was made by someone called Chelsey Cosplays and they were looking to find it a home. I snapped that up so quickly that it was stupid. I love it so very much and it’s one of my favourite costumes to wear.
“If I’m making the costume myself, I’ll try to repurpose anything I can before I head to the actual fabric stores. My doublet was made out of leather from an old sofa. I oiled it and dyed it until it looked how I needed it to and then came the hard part of assembling.
“I don’t particularly enjoy sewing as I’m new to the craft but I eyeballed it and now it’s on my body so I consider that a small success.
“My goals are to look as if I’ve walked out of the screen not just as if I’ve walked off set, if that makes sense.”
For more information see https://www.instagram.com/sparrowsongcosplay/