If you haven’t seen the video of Nora Vasconcellos receiving her first-ever skateboard as a Christmas present when she was just a small child, then take a short scroll down to watch it below (see 02:20) and I’ll meet you back here in a few minutes. Watched it? Good. Did you immediately warm to her and now want to know exactly how that small child went on to become adidas Skateboarding’s first female pro and one of the best riders on the scene? Well, you’re in luck.
The Three Stripes signed Nora last year to much applause and has since celebrated her arrival with a 20-minute documentary charting her rise from a hyperactive kid with an insatiable appetite for all things skateboarding to one of the smartest, funniest and (most importantly) talented pro skaters around. And you don’t just have to take my word for it, watch the documentary and you’ll see contemporaries Lacey Baker and Sage Elsesser, as well as legends such as Elissa Steamer, Andrew Reynolds and Marc Johnson all saying the same things and more.
After relocating from her East Coast hometown of Pembroke to California five years ago, it wasn’t long before Vasconcellos was turning heads among some of the biggest names in skating. These days she has multiple sponsorship deals to her name, a devoted social media following, and you just get the feeling there’s a lot more to come from the 25 year old yet.
We recently sat down with Nora to talk style, art, and what’s it’s like to be a female pro skater in 2018 — check out the interview below.
So we’ve seen the clip of you excitedly opening your first skateboard, what does skateboarding mean to you all these years later?
It means freedom and pure youth, I feel like it’s a way to make the best of what is around you.
How would you describe your skating style and how do you think it developed over the years?
I definitely like to skate everything. I think my style is probably a combination of all the eras of skating that I grew up watching. I love the style and progression of vert skating in the eighties. Then how much it changed and became so technical in the nineties, along with the big pants. I was always drawn to skaters that appeared like no one could touch them, like they were having so much fun and nothing could get in their way.
Do you think, in a way, skating can be art?
Yes, undoubtedly. I believe art is just emotion expressed in a physical way. Whether it is a song, painting, or skateboard trick, it’s all art. The beauty is that it is accessible to anyone if they are willing to try.
How important do you think humor and goofing around is in skateboarding today?
For me, it is everything. I would have never continued to skateboard if it hadn’t made me smile. Life is too short to spend not enjoying yourself. I also have never taken myself too seriously so it was only natural that my skating would do the same. You fall so much as a skater, if you can’t laugh at yourself, what is the point? There is real power in humor.
Much has been made of the fact you became adidas Skateboarding’s first female pro last year — what is it like to be a woman in skateboarding today?
It’s interesting. There are still stigmas but I do think that it is cool now to be a girl skater. It is trending. The skateboarding community has really grown and opened up to many more types of people, women being one of them.
Do you think it’s still sexist in some ways?
Of course, but what isn’t sexist? The world is run by men. Our governments, healthcare, the skateboard industry, etc. — they’re all run by men. But people are talking about it now and women are standing up for themselves. There is more representation now for females in skateboarding and I think that is wonderful.
How would you describe your personal style and what brands are you feeling right now?
(Laughs) I feel like my style is all over the place. I love wearing men’s pants with women’s blouses.
You said at the time it was beyond your wildest dreams to sign for adidas, what has it been like so far?
It’s a dream come true. Since signing with them, I have been able to put all my energy into skateboarding and art. The last year has been such a whirlwind and it’s only the beginning.
What are your top three spots to skate in the world?
That’s a hard one, I love Japan. The people, the culture and the variety of spots. It’s such a vast country and there are so many different places to visit.
European cities like Copenhagen and Malmo are insane too. They have so many perfect skateparks and such an incredible community. I love the old world feel of Europe.
My third would have to be home in Boston and New England, nothing beats going back to where you grew up and the dusty indoor parks. I love it.
Which skaters do you look up to and why?
There are so many guys on adidas alone who I have admired for years. Mark Gonzales and Dennis Busenitz have timeless style and have always done things their way. Jack Fardell for his ability to skate anything he wants and his control on huge transition and rails. Na-kel Smith and Magnus Bordewick for their youth and swagger. They are so insane and have superhuman abilities. Everyone brings something different and at the end of the day, I get to call them all my great friends and teammates.
What’s next for you?
I’m so excited for this next year. January alone will have some exciting trips. I’ll be heading off to Colorado for an event in a couple weeks. Then, I’ll be going on an all-girls Thrasher trip. I am looking forward to filming a lot more and finishing my part. adidas Skateboarding and I are working on product as well, art included. I’m very excited and grateful for everything coming my way.
Next up; here’s why adidas and Supreme’s Tyshawn Jones is the young gun skater you need to know right now.
- Photography: Andrew Peters / adidas Skateboarding