CHARLOTTE – Imagine you’re a kid and your favorite web-slinging superhero shows up to your birthday party. Mind. Officially. Blown.
Well, Carolina Characters is turning those imaginations into reality. The Charlotte-based entertainment company has around 40 characters available for parties and events within an 80-mile radius of the Queen City, sometimes further.
Maybe you’ve seen a few of them around the region. There’s Snow Queen, Mermaid Princess, Island Princess, Wonder Hero, Bat Superhero, Panther Superhero, Iron Superhero, Spider Superhero, Captain Jack and The Dark Lord of the Galaxy, among others. You might even catch the three witches from the well-known Halloween movie “Hocus Pocus” out and about.
Sure, they’re popular guests at children’s parties, but many of the characters have also made appearances at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont, Carolina Cobras games in Greensboro, the Winston-Salem Symphony, Matthews Alive and Wake Forest University. They can also be seen entertaining crowds at charity events or cheering up patients at local hospitals.
Wherever they are, you can thank 29-year-old Moriah Thomason. She founded Carolina Characters after studying acting at Boston University and trying to break into the film industry. At one point, she even worked as a birthday party clown and princess-for-hire.
Thomason moved to Charlotte from Wilmington in 2015 to be closer to Atlanta, which had a booming film industry at the time. She worked part-time jobs in between gigs but wasn’t feeling fulfilled. Her boyfriend suggested she start her own entertainment company and soon after, Carolina Characters was born.
Thomason started small with a just a few characters like Snow Queen and Mermaid Princess. She taught herself how to sew the costumes and style the wigs.
“It was a crash-course lesson,” she said. “A big part of the beginning was just the hustle.”
Thomason did everything she could to help spread the word about her budding business, from handing out flyers to offering free appearances and trades for advertising. Her boyfriend even helped play some male characters like Spider Superhero, Captain Jack and The Dark Lord of the Galaxy, but it quickly became too much too handle. Thomason said they got so busy they had to turn down gigs because they didn’t have enough actors.
Now, that’s not a problem. Thomason has about six actors who work for her and most are required to play multiple roles. They are all extremely familiar with the characters they play down to the backstories, personalities, voices and movements because they have to stay in character at all times during appearances.
“I want them to be good with kids and I want them to provide that magic,” Thomason said. “I want the kids to feel like, ‘I just stepped into Walt Disney World or I just walked into my favorite movie and met my favorite character and it was real.’”
Thomason is not making her own costumes anymore, either. She puts a lot of the money she makes toward elevating the appearance of characters so they’re as real as possible. That means purchasing high-quality costumes, wigs and fabrics (the Bat Superhero costume is screen-accurate).
Over the years, Thomason has noticed some characters get booked more than others depending on the season and when a new movie is released. She also said parents are booking more than just princesses for their young girls now, which is refreshing.
“I love that little girls are inviting superheroes to their birthday parties,” she said. “I love being a princess, but I really love when little girls are like, ‘I want Wonder Hero at my party. I want Bat Superhero or The Dark Lord of the Galaxy.’”
Although she can play all of the female characters, Thomason enjoys dressing up as Wonder Hero, Harlequin Hero, Galaxy Princess, Mermaid Princess and Beauty Princess (her favorite) the most.
She said the best part about playing a character is when she arrives at a birthday party and the kids freak out and hug her.
“It’s important for them to have this joy…to meet superheroes or movie characters in real life,” Thomason said. “It fuels your imagination as a child. Their imagination needs to be stimulated in a world where technology rules.”
Want to learn more?
Find Carolina Characters on Facebook or visit www.carolina-characters.com for party and event packages and booking information. You can also see additional pictures of characters on Instagram @carolina-characters.