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Skateboarding is such an integral part of who Beatrice Domond is that she struggles to explain why she gravitated towards it in the first place. She picked up a prop skateboard for a school portrait when she was five and hasn't let go of one since. "I was having fun," she laughs over a grainy video call from her family home in Florida.
Growing up in a small town, Domond learned to skate alone in her backyard and on the sidewalk in front of her house, turning to '90s skate videos and Thrasher magazines for inspiration. Drawn to the work of skate videographer Bill Strobeck and the style of pro-skater Jason Dill, she began sending them videos of her skating, starting a friendship that, after several years, would lead her to become the first woman to sign to Supreme and Fucking Awesome.
Domond is part of a new generation helping skateboarding shed its outdated white boy, antihero image. Not only is she on the roster of two of skateboarding’s most influential brands right now, but the 26-year-old is also a skilled photographer, has two Vans colorways under her belt, and parts in Supreme's acclaimed films Cherry, Blessed, and Candyland. What’s more, she’s accomplished these feats in a sport more accustomed to breaking bones than glass ceilings.
Women’s skateboarding has exploded recently, but years of underfunding and lack of marketing means that there is still catching up to do. During our conversation, she doesn’t dwell on the fact that she’s often one of very few — if not the only — women in the room, but when we touch on it, her stance on the matter is clear. “You add [women] to the team, you add them to the roster, you pay them, you put them on trips, you let them in,” she says on how the industry should better support women. “Don’t just put women on as a token. If she’s good, she should be there.”
Domond has, unintentionally, become a guiding light for those pushing skate culture forward. Yet despite the impressive list of accolades she’s already amassed, her deep respect for the sport and its legends keeps her passion pure and her attention focused. She's not interested in the instant gratification of posting trick after trick on social media, landing podium places or chasing fame of any sort. She's just focused on doing what she loves most — skating.
How did you start skating?
I grew up always outside, playing soccer, basketball. We have a huge lawn and a street and sidewalk. I started skating when I was seven, but I didn't start really doing tricks till I was 14. In Florida, we have these long patios and I would skate by myself, back and forth. It wasn't really a social thing, it was more for me to have fun. And I saw myself getting good at it really fast so I kept doing it. Then when you get into high school and you're trying to find who you are as a person, I gravitated towards this more. I was like, this is who I want to be.
Was there a particular moment when you knew that skateboarding was what you wanted to do forever?
Once when I was in high school, I stayed after school and I had my board and I did this really shitty half cab back 180. It was really bad. I don't know how I got from there to like, “I'm going to be pro,” but in my naive brain, that's how it worked.
So growing up you never felt that you needed to have others’ validation?
No, not at all. Just the encouragement of my mother was enough for me. She was my hero. She bought me my first real skateboard, she'd take me to the skate park, drive me all the way to contests, bought me all my skate magazines every month. She really supported me. As long as she thought what I was doing was sick, I didn't care what anybody else thought.
I’ve read you have a pretty massive Thrasher collection?
Yeah. It's actually kind of getting out of control. I have to stop. They put everything online now anyway, I think I'm done because it's kind of taking over my room.
Who were the skaters that you really looked to, growing up?
At first, it was Elissa Steamer from the Tony Hawk game, obviously. Vanessa Torres, because she was a female skateboarder. And then Bam [Margera], because he had the MTV show when I was younger. That was my first introduction to it. I'm from the early Internet age when skateboarding just started to get on TV, before Instagram, but there was YouTube. They were my influences.
How important was it for you to see female role models within the skate scene?
I didn't think about it too much. I just pulled from everyone, because there was no one like me yet. So I looked to Elissa as a woman. I took Kareem Campbell because he's tall. I took so-and-so because of their style and so-and-so because they're a person of color. I would take from people and then make me, because there was no one just like me skating yet.
Were there ever times you doubted yourself because you couldn't see anyone that you felt really represented you?
No. It's so crazy, because I think it’s the way my mother programmed me. Sometimes I trip out; I'm more insecure now than I was then. My younger self was way more emotionally intelligent than I am now. I just didn't care. I knew I loved this thing and I knew I was good at it.
Social media now plays such a large part in getting known and sponsored. What’s your opinion on the effect it has had on skating in general?
It's great, ‘cause you can show people what you're up to. But I'm falling away from that and going back to where I came from, which was that you'd work on a part for a year or two, and only then put it out. In terms of my craft, I feel like it should be honored more, it should be in a video. It's like an art piece. Basquiat didn't paint a line, post on Instagram, and then paint something else, and post on Instagram. You saw the whole thing at once, and it's beautiful and you enjoy it.
How do you feel about the way skateboarding is evolving to be seen less as a "subculture" and more as a mainstream activity?
I have mixed feelings about it. As a skateboarder, you think skateboarding is yours. And when something is yours, you want to keep it exclusive and to yourself as much as possible. But as an athlete, you need to put food on the table. Skaters... we do the most for so little, simply because we love it. So to see these guys going mainstream or to the Olympics and getting paid millions of dollars by brands, it's well deserved. Skateboarding's not about doing it for the money, but if you find yourself at that point, I believe you deserve to be seen. There's no other sport where you're hucking yourself down 20 stairs and landing on plywood and four wheels — it’s crazy and it’s really hard.
How would you like to see skateboarding develop in the future?
I would love to see more people getting involved in it; the right way, not just sticking their finger in it and taking from it. I see a lot of that. You'll have this company get a skateboarder to model for, like, a lip balm. Then they name the lip balm "Skateboard Harry" and you never hear from them again. Like, what the fuck? You can't do that, these are people's lives. I invested my life into this thing. People love to come into our industry and take what they want. I don't respect that at all.
Why do you think that is?
I don't know. Skateboarding is so open and so different. I don't think it's explainable. It has this thing about it where it's like “oh, let's dabble today.” It's like a new hat; it's the hat of the season. That's what skateboarding is to some people.
Speaking of fashion — what about the crossover with skateboarding? Because fashion seems very guilty of taking from it.
I've worked with brands where, if I modeled for them, it's not skateboarding-based. So I can only see that point of view. Like, this is Beatrice, she just happens to be a skateboarder, but we just want her to model without the skateboard. I haven't been in that situation where I'm like, “You guys are taking from us.” Skateboarders, we get inspiration from fashion, but we don't profit off of it like fashion does.
What do you think about things like Louis Vuitton coming out with a skate shoe?
It's interesting. I respect Lucien Clarke, he's an amazing skateboarder. He's put the time in the streets, he's had parts and board sponsors. So in that case, they're doing it right. They could have put out a skate shoe without a skateboarder, that's where you’d be doing it wrong. They're supporting a real skateboarder, so I respect that.
What do you think the industry could do to better support women skaters?
You add them to the team, you add them to the roster, you pay them, you put them on trips. You let them in. Don't just put women on as the token – if she's good, she should be there. And when you have the right people in the right spaces, we can speak up for the other people who are coming up.
You’ve become quite a role model for lots of aspiring skaters. Do you ever feel pressure to present yourself differently because of it?
No. I try not to think about it, because I would probably close up and try to remove myself. If I feel like someone's looking up to me at all times, I'm like, “Oh I made that bad decision last week. Don't follow me at all — literally and figuratively.” It's a lot of responsibility. I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. But I just try to be the best person I can be.
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