What’s one to do with a love for cosplay, performance and fairy tales?
Local teacher Malinda West took them and blended them into her own business about five years ago. What began as a leap of faith, a handful of costumes and a passion for performing led to a thriving business.
West’s business, Princess Parties By Malinda, became a way for West to step into character and bring smiles as a child’s favorite princess or hero.
She now has more than 25 characters to offer from The Snow Queen to Wonder Woman, and she sometimes makes special appearances throughout the community. Catch her at The Black Olive in Jonesborough as Rapunzel for a Christmas event on Dec. 1 and 15.
Check out what West has to say about being in the princess business:
Q: How did you become a local princess?
A: With years of experience singing and acting, I decided to take a leap of faith and pursue my dreams. After graduating college with a degree in Early Childhood Education, it seemed like the most "perfect" job for me! I compiled all my talents into becoming a princess.
Not only does it require singing and acting skills, it also requires experience with children and keeping them engaged.
Q: What’s your favorite part about being a princess?
A: Although I absolutely love putting the dresses on and becoming a princess on the outside, my most favorite part of the entire experience is seeing the children's faces light up as I walk into a room. It's such a rewarding and humbling experience.
I love hearing the children sing along with me and watching their eyes follow along as I interactively tell them my story.
Q: How do you choose which characters to add?
A: I use a variety of determining factors in choosing which characters to add. Before ever adding any character, I study the personality and the characteristics of that character. I also observe the popularity and the diversity that the character could bring to my business.
Q: What has being in the princess business taught you in the years you’ve been doing it?
A: I have been in business for almost five years now and it's been such an amazing journey. If anything, I have learned to always pursue your dreams and never give up on what you believe in even if other people may think it's silly or impossible.
I have been so blessed to have such strong support throughout the Tri-Cities area and I'm so blessed to have so many wonderful customers. I'm forever grateful that my community has embraced and fully supported my love for performance and creativity.
Q: Which character is the most fun for you to play and why? Which character is the most challenging, and what makes it difficult for you?
A: I currently offer more than 25 characters and I play all the female roles myself. I find that villains are more challenging just because I fear that the children may be frightened. Even though I want to fully embrace the children with love, while playing a villain, I must remain in character as cold and bitter.
All of my characters are fun to play in their own unique way but I love playing my Scottish Princess. With her accent and bubbly personality, her parties are always full of excitement and joy.
I also enjoy playing the classic fairy-tale characters such as Cinderella. Cinderella taught me as a young child that dreams can come true. As an adult, I believe that everyone should "have courage and be kind."