Tonight, on The Talking Dead
, the after-show that airs later in the night after AMC's hugely successful series, The Walking Dead
, the host, Chris Hardwick, will welcome the winners of the Ultimate Fan Search contest, Jill Robi and Brandenn Orban-Griggs, to join him on the couch to discuss the night's episode, along with actresses Lauren Cohan (Maggie) and Alanna Masterson (Tara).
During the season, fans voted online for their favorite fan video, and the couple, who cosplay as Michonne (Dania Gurira) and Rick (Andrew Lincoln), were chosen out of those who entered.
Robi and Orban-Griggs first met because of their love for The Walking Dead
; they first saw each other at the season seven premiere and didn't look back.
Robi talked about her first impressions of Brandenn. "I saw him on the way in. He gave this shy smile from underneath his hat - it was the smile that caught my eye, not the cosplay. We didn’t talk; he was rushing in, and I was rushing elsewhere, so that I could get back to my seat.
"And this Andrea (Laurie Holden) cosplayer I’d met earlier found me while I was sitting and sort of demanded I get up to take pictures with this “great Rick cosplayer,” because she wanted pictures with the two of us. She walked past me, and behind her I saw him striding my way.
"...And at first, the Andrea cosplayer was between us, then people wanted pictures of just the two of us, and he wrapped his arm around my waist. I don’t know - I looked up at him, and he looked at me, and it just felt like something was happening.
"After security broke up the impromptu photo session, as the show was starting, we shook hands, reintroducing ourselves, and he held my hand and looked right at me and said, "After the show, I will
find you." "
After that, according to Brandenn, they started dating "pretty much right away."
Jill added, "After another round of photos with fans, we were going to exchange numbers, but his mother, who was cosplaying as Carl (Chandler Riggs), insisted we go out for drinks. So we did. We closed down a bar and ended up talking until about six in the morning. I think I texted him first the next day, and we made plans to meet again the following week. We’ve been seeing each other ever since."
The two also discussed creating their iconic costumes. Robi bought pieces from different places. "I’ve seen the official vest online, and the AMC sword, but not much else. Fans have sussed out exact brands of some of the characters, but my main thing was to make my cosplay my own. I got my vest on eBay and most of my tops from thrift stores, to have that worn look. My latest pair of pants, however, I got from Athleta, as they closely match what she wears now. I opted to not get a wig; I have braids and figured that was close enough. It looks authentic because they are authentic."
Orban-Griggs' process was similar, but some pieces he had to search for. "I bought the police shirt from a uniform store online. I bought a pair of brown pants and sewed the stripe down the side, since those aren’t made anymore. The hat and badge I bought on eBay."
They also helped each other. He continued, "I did buy Jill a sword - an exact match - and she researched and found someone to make me a custom Rick Grimes' gun (by Gary at replicaguns.com)."
Robi talked more about Orban-Griggs giving her the sword, "[It was hard] finding the sword, one that was close to it, anyway, and not plastic. I finally found one at last year’s Wizard World Chicago, but it still wasn’t exactly the same.
"And here came Brandenn. He found me a real one that was exactly like it somehow, and presented it as a birthday gift. I was stunned speechless for like several minutes."
For Orban-Griggs, the hardest part to find was the gun and holster, which are his favorite parts of the costume. "[They] were all vintage items made by Tex Shoemaker, made in the 1970s. So I had to hunt for each individual item on eBay."
Jill added that her costume "doesn’t feel right without my sword or my headpiece."
Robi talked about taking the cosplay seriously. "I try to be more severe with my expression. When people ask for photos, I try not to smile. Except this one time with two, little girls; I didn’t want to scowl with them. But I try to carry off the demeanor and overall presence of Michonne, and I think that’s a big chunk of the reason why people feel drawn to my version of it."
The two have cosplayed before as other characters. Robi had cosplayed a few: Wonder Woman, Maleficent (or her version, which is Magnificent), and Harley Quinn.
Brandenn dressed as Bagul once. "But I’m more fond or Rick Grimes."
The two also talked about coming up with the idea for their fan video, but they didn't have a big plan. According to Robi, "We knew we had to include how we met, and why they needed to have both of us, so we just ad-libbed, and an awesome fellow Richonner edited it for us for the search."
They were told about winning by Hardwick, live on television. According to Orban-Griggs, "After I triple and quadrupled checked my internet connection - as last time it crapped out and we didn’t get to be on the show - I popped open some champagne and drank about half of it. I figured it would either help me celebrate if we won or help me drown my tears if we lost!"
Robi added, "They told us we were one of four finalists, and that they would have us Skype in live. Then we had to watch both shows distracted as hell, nervous as hell, and just wait. So much waiting."
Both are excited to be on the show, but neither knows yet what they want to ask. They do, however, know who they'd like to be on the couch next to them, if it were up to them. For Jill it's Lincoln and Gurira, but she'd also like to see executive producers Scott M. Gimple and Gale Anne Hurd. For Brandenn, it's Lincoln and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
The two, who often debate the show and post their reactions on youtube, talked about their favorite parts of The Walking Dead
and watching it together. Orban-Griggs said his favorite part is "the emotional depth of the show and the fact that it’s found within a genre where you would expect it to be horrible. The novelty of that combination is what interests me. And when we’re together, we watch it together."
Jill added, "I don’t know that I have a favorite part per se, but I typically find myself anxiously awaiting Sunday. When the shows go on break, they always feel like the longest breaks ever.
"As for watching them together, we try to as often as possible, sometimes rewatching episodes when we get the chance.
"I think we have the same favorite episode, “A,” the season finale for season four. It has my favorite Rick moment, anyway."
They will definitely have fun on The Talking Dead
, but each quipped about what they would play if they were on The Walking Dead
: survivor or zombie. Orban-Griggs would be happy with either, however, added that it would be a "walker, if I got to bite someone important."
Robi, on the other hand, would choose a survivor. "Preferably a recurring one. And I would have some sort of badass move or weapon. Something with badassery, basically."
Be sure to catch Robi and Orban-Griggs tonight on The Talking Dead