AMBER LOVE 22-AUG-2016 I first donned a Leslie Knope costume at New York Comic Con 2015. Unfortunately I didn’t get great pictures of it, but have a few selfies and one decent shot my friend Ian took while we were standing in a line. I wanted to resurrect the Knope outfit for 2016, but none of my clothes fit and I thought I was doomed. I took some birthday money and headed to Kohl’s one day then completed the outfit with a visit to the thrift store. The cool thing about a character like this is that the clothes are regular off-the-rack clothes and only need accessorizing: wig, wig styling, campaign button, Master Plan notebook. I thought of all kinds of other “Leslie” things that could be possible props like a mini Lil’ Sebastian toy or a purse that’s waffle shaped. It has a lot of options. Some day I’d like to make the Pawnee Goddesses vest too.


Like all politicians, it’s impossible to agree with one hundred percent of what Leslie believes. She hates libraries and porn and doesn’t like sex workers anymore than Liz Lemon (30 Rock). Overall, Leslie has a lot of great ideas for improving her local community and the nation as a whole; she’s even spouted some impressive foreign policy. She surrounds herself by a bunch of loyal and loving weirdos who bring their unique skills to the table. And she eventually made the right decision to openly date Ben Wyatt.

I wanted to make one other change to the Leslie Knope cosplay ensemble besides getting clothes that were more comfortable. For the NYCC in 2015, I left it as it was with the center part. I’m not adept at wig styling and I didn’t want to mess it up for NY. For this year’s Superhero Weekend charity fundraiser at Comic Fusion, I decided to try and move the part to the side as Leslie wore her hair. If I messed it up, I just wouldn’t dress up or I’d wear something else. I planned on being more comfortable this year for SHW instead of encased in layers of Spanx and tights anyway.

We shot all of these in Flemington, New Jersey at the historic county buildings and the gazebo in the park behind the government complex. I couldn’t find a “Parks Department” sign but found a Board of Elections sign and since a huge part of Leslie’s story is about how she ran for city council and then for Congress, the spot we found made sense to me. We actually did two photoshoots because the 9:20AM sun was beating down exactly in the direction I needed to look for posing at the old court house and on the gazebo; so thanks to my tenacious partner, we went and reshot them. You can still see that in some of them, my eyes were squinting and tearing up. There were a couple great shots ruined by sweat dripping down my face so clearly, it couldn’t be fixed in the photos without a lot of filtering. Like any other cosplay, each picture had good elements and “needs improvements” elements; sometimes my wig looked fantastic while other times it looked like a wig with my darker hair showing. It happens. I’m glad we got a lot of decent ones and some really great ones.

Photos by Joe Roa with a Canon Powershot and Samsung S4.

2020 Leslie Knope wearing hard hat at The Pit

2020 Leslie Knope trying to adjust to the Pandemic Zoom conference calls

Subscribe to my newsletter

Avoid those algorithms! Get news delivered to your inbox. You'll also receive a free short story when you subscribe!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.