Briana King is a talented American skateboarder, model, and actress. She runs popular skate meetups in different cities around the world. We find out more about who inspires her, her favourite place to skate in New York, and more.
Hey Briana, how’s it going? I’ve been watching some of your video clips of your skate meetups. They look like a lot of fun. Tell me about them? When did you start them? Any favourite moments?
My meetups, definitely a lot of fun, haha, when I originally started my meetups it just happened organically. I was helping people around the skatepark, and I just remember having this feeling of confidence and feeling powerful, and feeling comfortable, honestly, feeling comfortable speaking out loud, and interacting with others. Which was something that was always so difficult for me. So, not only was I in this to help other people, those people that I helping were also helping me, like, build my confidence, and just interactions with other people because I had always been a bit uncomfortable speaking to other people. I was just always a bit an introvert growing up. And it's been probably two and a half years now, two years for sure, but I took a bit longer, I haven't really been keeping track. I just kept going and going, and going... but I have two favourite moments throughout my meetups. My last meetup in New York at the first place that I had my meetup, which was in New York, in Brooklyn. That was my first meetup spot. My last meetup spot was like thirty people to like two hundred people, and the energy was like absolutely insane. Everybody was helping each other, was just big smiles on their faces. I had a lot of support from just from a lot of companies, for just like boards, and trucks. That just provided so much for everybody that was there. Everyone just looked just so happy and everyone continued to be friends afterward and I still see those people skating to this day. So that was a really amazing rememberable moment for me but also one of my favourite moments was my first meetup in Los Angeles, we had maybe like six people, seven people max, and they are all still my best friends. It was just like really intimate and able to speak to each other in such a small setting and we just really connected and they are my best friends to this day. And they really helped me build the meetups that I have today.
When did you first get into skateboarding? Did it start when you met your friend Yasmeen Wilkerson? Or earlier?
I got into skateboarding here and there as a kid, it was uncomfortable. I got bullied, yeah I was just uncomfortable so I skated here and there but I didn't start properly or didn't feel comfortable until I met Yasmeen, just like another Black female skateboarder so it's really important and I don't think I would be skateboarding. I'm pretty sure I would not be skateboarding without Yasmeen.
Here in New Zealand there is a cool initiative called Girls Skate NZ, which teaches girls to skate. You’re a big advocate for teaching girls, as well as LGBTQ+, to skate. It’s more than just passing on skills. It’s encouraging to see these initiatives happening around the world. What do you enjoy about them and why do you think they are important?
My meetups are not only about teaching people cos if you look at my videos you can see a lot of pro skateboarders that come to my events, and just really good skateboarders, not only beginners. It's more of a safe space for everybody that is not a cis male or nontraditional skateboarder, so it's kinda a place where people know that there are like, or that are uncomfortable getting back into skateboarding after quitting, after years and years of people just bullying them. It's just important to have this space where people know that there are people that are nice and welcoming and wanting friendships from other people. So people come to my meetups honestly make friends and some people come to learn new things but everyone there is for a completely different reason. Not just LGBTQ people that need help, or want friendships.
What inspires you? Who are some people (skateboarders or otherwise) that you admire?
I think some people that inspire me are Le'Andre Sanders, his name is Skategoat on Instagram (@skategoat). He has like a similar upbringing to mine, he is actually coming out with a documentary soon... It's just cool about how skateboarding has made an impact on his life, and it's just really inspiring story I can relate to.
Andy Anderson is one of my favourite skateboarders he skates transition freestyle/street, and his outlook on skating is just really cool. He's never trying to be a cool guy, he just has his helmet on. Yeah, I don't know, just with these two people, Andy Anderson and Skategoat, they are just amazing skateboarders and have a great story.
Where are some of the places you love to skate in New York?
Honestly just everywhere, and like in New York that why I love being here so much. I just like there is like a skatepark feeding to the next skatepark. But my all-time favourite is LES. Which is where I pretty much learned everything I know how to do when I moved to New York. I lived in Lower East Side and I would go every single morning like six, seven am, sometimes even earlier. Whenever I'm away, and in a different city or part of the world, and I learn a new trick I'm like immediately think, wait, I can't wait to try that in the hip in LES. Yeah, I just love all of New York.
You have had some ‘ups and downs’, but you pick yourself up. Do you think skateboarding, where everyone has falls and they get back on the board, has helped in your life?
Yeah honestly, you know even just when you fall down when you are skateboarding it's just a moment that I find myself laughing because, I don't know, it just becomes awkward. You know I would laugh out of feeling awkward, and then it actually just turns into a real life laugh. Not laughing from being embarrassed. Just laughing because it made me feel better, which is just like a weird analogy it's just like this morning when I dropped my smoothie everywhere and just made a joke, and I laughed. There is a lot of moments in our life when something doesn't go as planned, and I just laugh... And I found that I laughed after I started skateboarding because something would make me upset and I left. Like there is no point in being angry about things that are out of your control. But yeah skateboarding has changed my life so much, I make sure that I keep on going, and doing what I need to do next.
What advice would you give to girls in New Zealand that want to get into skating?
I hate to say this because it's so blunt and short but 'just do it'. But I have advice outside of that. This is something I have always been a bit ashamed about but like when I first started skateboarding I wasn't always as welcoming. I would go to the park and I would only want to talk to certain people that were good or looked a certain way and didn't just recently went on live talking about this and it actually made me cry. I was so embarrassed that was ever that person at one point in my life so when it comes to skateboarding just be open, and talk to everybody, and just be a nice person and you are going to find some of the best people that you have ever met in just being an open, sweet person. Don't be judgmental just go to the park, have fun, have fun with other people. Respect other people, and respect yourself. Don't talk to people that don't respect you because there are a lot of mean people at the park and people continue to talk to them even when they are rude cos they want friends to skate with them, but find you will find more skater friends!