Life
Life beyond style
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Na-kel Smith is an adidas Pro team rider and an aspiring rapper who also stars in Jonah Hill‘s directorial debut Mid90s, a comedy-drama that follows a 13-year old boy who begins to hang out with a group of skateboarders while living in ’90s Los Angeles.

Jonah Hill essentially infused skateboarding and hip-hop culture as the film’s main elements, and in our exclusive interview with Hill, as well as the film’s stars Sunny Suljic and Na-kel Smith, they delve into how they aimed on eliminating any clichés that are usually associated with each subculture.

To further promote the film and speak on other topics, The FADER linked both Jonah Hill and Na-kel Smith for another in-depth interview, where Hill puts Smith in the spotlight. You can read the interview in its entirety here, and listed below are just a few key takeaways from the conversation.

On if age plays a factor when speaking to a person who has a right view of things… (Jonah Hill is 34 and Na-Kel Smith is 24).

NS: “Well, we’re both passionate about something, so we level on that. Once you have passion, you don’t have age anymore, in a sense. Once you dig off into passion and career and sh*t, everybody’s on their own clock and everybody takes in information differently.”

On inspiring people to be positive and not negative, even when you make mistakes since we’re human…

NS: “For me, if somebody feels any type of way about something, don’t let it break through and take you to a place you don’t wanna go. Make sure that you stay solid and just brush it off, because it’s not worth all that energy.”

Adding, “I feel like you either beat yourself up or you just justify the wrong thing. It don’t gotta be like that. You just feel a little weird because somebody ruffled your feathers, but honestly, you let that happen. That’s how I be feeling. Everybody knows right from wrong. It’s just…Can you live with what you do?”

On where Na-Kel Smith developed the sense of knowing right from wrong…

NS: “It came from f*cking up. When I young, I was fighting a lot. If somebody was pushing my buttons, I was the one to take it to that next level. So when people say, “Sit and think about what you’ve done,” I’ve had a lot of time to do that because I’ve been in trouble so much.”

On his past experiences getting into trouble and comparing Jonah Hill’s mantra of “F*ck everybody else” when he also got in trouble…

NS: “You start realizing the world doesn’t give a f*ck about that. Nobody cares about what happened to you… I feel like living life is like you’re creating a character. There’s certain traits that you want. There’s certain traits that you don’t want. There’s a way you want to look. You’re just creating who you think you are in your head — who you want to be. The body is basically just a machine and the brain is like a computer, and your spirit is who you really are. That’s what guides all of this — our spirit, right? So basically you’re just dressing up your spirit. That’s what I think a human body is, and you’re just doing what your spirit is telling you to do.”

On his thoughts about as you get older, you have to choose one or two things to be consistent on…

NS: “I don’t think that’s true, that you have to choose. Imagine if I woke up, got my life together, took my shower, answered some emails, made a beat, went skating, got a clip, had a casting or an audition or something, went to that, that’s a full work day. Sure I could be like, “Phew, I’m tired. It’s been a long day,” but then I could go home and instead of just watching some senseless TV, I could spend some quality time with my girlfriend. I could draw clothing designs and stuff. It just depends on how bad you want to do everything that you want to do.”

On his view and lessons of life…

NS: “There’s no book that’s like, “These are the rules of life.” If there is, please let me borrow it, because I need that.”

On his struggles…

NS: “Well I have parts of me that I wish would just die. It’s my self-doubt. Basically my self-doubt and my inconsistency are the two things that really, really bother me.”

Once more, head on over to The FADER for the full interview.

Up next, watch Jonah Hill flex his ‘Mid90s’ hip-hop knowledge for Genius.

Words by Renz Ofiaza
Staff Writer

Renz Ofiaza is a Staff Writer at Highsnobiety and based in Brooklyn.

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