By Luis Monteagudo Jr.
Victoria Vasquez Ikerd-Schreiter wants you to know that Wonder Woman is real. And she works and lives right here in San Diego.
By day, Ikerd-Schreiter is a lawyer who advocates for children with special needs, helping them get the education and services they need. But outside of the courtroom, she dresses up as Wonder Woman to help nonprofit organizations, inspire others and have fun with fans.
It’s a passion that in a short time has made her one of the most famous cosplayers in the nation, with more than 28,000 followers of her Instagram account (wonderwomanisreal) and a recent ranking by the fan web site Movie Pilot as the top Wonder Woman cosplayer in the nation.
“This Californian is recognized by her realistic Wonder Woman cosplay at conventions around the nation,” wrote the site. “If you’ve ever looked for the real Wonder Woman, well, here she is.”
For Ikerd-Schreiter, it’s been a dramatic turn in her life.
“To me, this is all shocking and wild,” she said.
As a little girl, Ikerd-Schreiter was into Wonder Woman and as she grew into a dark-haired, statuesque woman, she began reminding others of the Amazonian warrior.
She served three years in the Navy and remembered being called Wonder Woman by her fellow service members.
“The first time was in boot camp. A couple of guys called me Wonder Woman.”
Later, she became an attorney in San Diego and attended Comic-Con 2015 dressed as Wonder Woman.
“I wasn’t really a cosplayer,” she said. “I had no clue what even a cosplayer was.”
She returned to Comic-Con the following year and had so much fun interacting with fans that she began pursuing more cosplaying opportunities.
Today, she has over a dozen Wonder Woman costumes, representing different time periods and themes including a “Star Wars” Wonder Woman and a pirate Wonder Woman.
With the success of the recent “Wonder Woman” movie, demand for her appearances has grown so much that she hired an assistant to keep track of her schedule. She even got invited to the world premiere of the movie and got to meet its star, Gal Gadot, and Lynda Carter, who famously played Wonder Woman in the popular 1970s TV show.
This week, she will be busy at Comic-Con 2017, where she has several appearances planned, including a Friday night panel on costuming.
The transformation into Wonder Woman has changed her life.
“Never in my life have I felt beautiful being so big and strong,” said the six-foot tall Ikerd-Schreiter. “It was always that feeling that being an Amazon was ugly thing.”
Now, she almost doesn’t need a costume to become Wonder Woman.
“I feel like the more I’m Wonder Woman, the more she is me. I feel like I am Wonder Woman.”
That feeling of strength drives her in her personal life and in the courtroom. She is the mother of two children with autism and she represents families of children with autism or special needs.
“We say we are the shield and sword of our clients,” she said. “Whenever a lawyer attacks our clients, it’s our duty to deflect it with our shield. When I’m in the courtroom, I feel like I’m in full armor.”
She is hoping to use her growing fame to shine a light on the work she does.
“I’m fighting for people who need to be fought for,” she said.
She doesn’t accept money when nonprofit organizations invite her to make appearances but she would like to find a way to make a career playing Wonder Woman, perhaps even making a cameo in the next movie.
“For me, it isn’t about the fame,” she said. “It’s about sending a message that if we all work together and push for justice and love we can all make Wonder Woman real.”
Luis Monteagudo Jr. is a freelance writer and pop culture enthusiast who has attended Comic-Con for more than 20 years. He was written for The San Diego Union-Tribune, USA Today and numerous other publications.