A Harry Potter superfan with over 700,000 YouTube followers has taken her devotion to the next level – restoring a Ford Anglia to replicate the Weasley family’s flying car, first see in the Chamber of Secrets film.
Now a full-time Harry Potter vlogger, Cherry Wallis, 31, of Derbyshire, says her huge social media following came after she started posting videos about the famous wizard.
Now, in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the first movie in the hit franchise on November 16, she calls The Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio tour in London her “second home.”
Celebrating Back To Hogwarts Day today alongside fellow ‘Potterheads,’ who annually mark the September 1 start of term at the wizarding school, she is realising her dream by meeting Tom Felton, aka baddie Draco Malfoy, for a very special live stream.
“I’m so excited about meeting Tom,” said Cherry. “Harry Potter is really special to me – it’s changed my life.
“I wouldn’t have the friends I have now, without it.”
But Cherry, who was 11 when the first movie came out, was not always a Harry Potter fan. In fact, she had no interest in the wizarding world until her late teens.
“I was a bit late compared to some of my Potter peers. I wasn’t a big reader as a kid,” she admitted.
“My brother, who is three years older, actually bought his first Harry Potter book in around 1997 when he was 10 years old. I got into it a lot later when I was around 17.”
She added: “His book was lying around and I just picked it up to read as I was bored and saw it lying around.
“Afterwards I was like, ‘How have I slept on this?’ I’ve been obsessed ever since.”
Plunging into the magical world of fantastic beasts, witches and wizards, Cherry fell in love with Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
“It was all about the escapism,” she said.
“Going along that journey with Harry was pretty special. When you’re feeling sad, or down, it’s a little bit of escapism to somewhere nice and magical. And I think that’s what Harry Potter is for a lot of us.
“It was really nice to imagine, what if this wizarding world did exist?”
And when Cherry shared her love for the wizarding franchise on her YouTube channel in 2016, her world was turned upside down by the incredible fan community.
“My YouTube channel didn’t start out as a Harry Potter one when I began it in 2011,” she explained.
“I was studying at university, my videos weren’t really a set format until I started talking about Harry Potter.”
She added: “They were a bit of everything – YouTube challenges, chatting to my friend. It was completely different to what it is now.”
“Then I got sent a replica of Newt Scamander’s suitcase for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. When I posted it on my YouTube Channel, it just blew up. I met amazing people, the fan community for Harry Potter is incredible.”
Cherry’s followers also grew and the Harry Potter superfan became a full-time vlogger.
Now she is living the dream, making videos of herself dressed up and cosplaying as students and characters from the wizarding world.
She has transformed herself into Hogwarts students as well as Beauxbaton students, a rival school in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
But her favourite character is Luna Lovegood – who first appeared in the Goblet of Fire series and is celebrated by fans for her quirky and unique personality.
“I really identify with Luna the most,” explained Cherry.
“I feel as though that was perhaps me in school, so I related to that a lot. I like how different she is and she’s unapologetic about being herself. I think that’s a really strong message.”
As another bonus, Cherry receives all kinds of Harry Potter goodies, which she shows fans on her site.
She said: “I’ve lost count of how much merchandise there is. I actually have a sign on my office door that says ‘The Room of Requirement’ on it.”
A magical room in Hogwarts school, the Room of Requirement is a secret room that only appears when someone is in great need of it.
Cherry said: “It’s nice to show when I have friends over. If they’ve never seen my collection, it’s fun to shock them with all of the stuff. I call it the wall of magic, because everything is displayed on a shelfing unit.”
She added: “My favourite item is the Ravenclaw lost diadem, a jewelled headpiece made by noble collection. It’s just stunning. It’s one of the prettiest pieces in my collection.”
Visiting the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studios in London is another work bonus for Cherry.
She said: “I’ve been over 30 times. I call it my second home because I go there so much.”
Thanks to Cherry’s vlogging success, she has even been able to get behind the scenes access with her camera, to meet the stars of the show.
“I got to interview Warwick Davis who played Professor Filius Flitwick and a Gringotts bank teller, in the Gryffindor common room,” she said.
“That was a pretty big deal. To go behind the scenes and see it up close. The level of detail is amazing. The design team go all out. You don’t realise it but the attention to detail is astonishing. Even the newspaper articles are written perfectly.”
But Cherry was most excited when she met James and Oliver Phelps, otherwise known as the Wesley twins, at the Harry Potter photographic exhibition in Covent Garden, London, this year – and was able to tell them they had all gone to the same secondary school.
“They were four years above me,” she explained.
“We went to The Arthur Terry School in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands. I remember when they got the part in Harry Potter and everyone was talking about it at school.”
Cherry had a surprise for the twins, too – taking along a school picture of her in her school uniform to show them.
“They were really shocked by it. I think they thought it was pretty cool,” she said.
“They were brilliant to meet.”
Now the superfan cannot wait to meet her next star from the Harry Potter movies today.
She said: “Back to Hogwarts day is such an important key day for the Harry Potter community. There’s always stuff going on.
“I’m really excited about meeting Tom Felton, it’s going to be so much fun. It should be really special.”
Cherry is also looking forward to a very special restoration project.
“My three friends and I are doing up a Ford Anglia in my garage,” she said.
“It’s a very old one from the 1960s. It’s the same colour as the one from the Chamber of Secrets – blue.”
She added: “I know nothing about engineering or mechanics, but we’ve stripped it down and are getting the body work done. It’s currently a bit of a rust bucket, but the plan is to restore it back to its former glory.
“We even want to put an invisibility booster button in it. I wouldn’t have it if it wasn’t for my love of Harry Potter!”
Most magical of all for Cherry are the friends she makes during her wizarding adventures.
“I get to do my dream job every day,” she said.
“It’s the most amazing community. If I hadn’t had started vlogging about Harry Potter I wouldn’t have met my friends.
“I think its easier to list what it hasn’t changed when it comes to how the franchise has changed my life”
Tune in to the Back to Hogwarts Global Fan Celebration | 20 Years of Harry Potter Movie Magic on the Wizarding World YouTube channel.
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