Nora Vasconcellos

Nora Vasconcellos | In episode 58 of Light Culture Podcast, Paper Magazine founder David Hershkovits talks to professional skateboarder Nora Vasconcellos.

Nora is not only a champion athlete but also a reluctant role model for young women who have had to fight their way to earn acceptance, and an income, from the skateboard industry. Nora is the first-ever female professional skateboarder on the Adidas team and is widely respected for her style. Nora joins us on Light Culture Podcast to speak out on a variety of subjects: fashion, overcoming personality disorders, skate moms, misogyny, racism, and why she stopped competing when it was no longer fun.

Read Transcript

Q&A

David: [00:00:00] 

Once primarily a boy’s thing, girl skateboarding has emerged as a fast-growing segment of the sport. Along with it has come the arrival of people like my guest today, Nora Vasconcellos, the first-ever female rider of Adidas skateboarding. Some of this surge has to do with the acceptance, for the first time, of skateboarding in the next Olympics, but it also has something to do with the spirit and nature of the girls it attracts, like Nora. Who is not only a championship athlete but also someone who sets an example for others, especially girls who have to fight their way into a man’s world in the skate park as well as in daily life? Not every girl is suited to be a role model, but it seems like Nora takes to it quite naturally, like she did, when as a five-year-old, she got her first skateboard. “I was always going to be a skateboarder.” She says, “I just didn’t know that anybody was going to care.” Well, we care. Welcome, Nora.

Nora: [00:01:03] 

[laughs] That was so nice. Thank you. 

David: [00:01:07] 

Yeah. Well, you know, I feel like, you know, I’m a truth-teller here. So, how does it feel to be a role model? You know, what kind of pressure does that put on you, now that you have this elevated profile in a world where social media is ready to pounce on any mistake? [laughter]

Nora: [00:01:26] 

I try not to think about it too much. I was raised by two parents who were just really conscious people and taught me a lot about being respectful. And I just think it was really easy to transition into, a role where people are watching you. I try not to think about the role model thing too much. But of course, with social media, it is [laughs] it’s like a tightrope.

David: [00:03:00] 

Right. Yeah. 

Nora: [00:03:00] 

You are just walking it.

David: [00:03:02] 

And not only, you know, a role model. There’s also pressure on athletes, you know – I’d like to hear what you think, if that’s true or not – to take a position on everything.

Nora: [00:03:12] 

Ugh. [sighs]

David: [00:03:12] 

You know, from politics to mental health. The environment to police.

Nora: [00:03:16] 

Dude. The responsibility, I feel like, that gets pushed on anybody who has a following it’s a bit ridiculous. But, I mean, I’ve noticed especially in the last six months because of where we are political, where we are economical with the pandemic, everything. It feels like everybody is watching you under this microscope, and the microscope also has the sun behind it and they’re just wanting to burn you like a little ant as they’re looking at you. [laughter]

David: [00:03:47] 

Nice one.

Nora: [00:03:47] 

Um. Yeah. So, I think I’m just trying to be conscious, trying to be thoughtful, and whenever it comes to posting something, I think authenticity obviously shines through in a good light no matter what. As long as you’re not, pointing fingers or being ignorant. But it’s hard. I’ve been really conscious about the fact that I am in Maui. I’m in Hawaii and I’m pretty removed from mainland America, in terms of the suffering that’s been going on there. That’s a balance. It’s like not posting too much of paradise. But, also I think it’s like the most important time to be vocal about beliefs and about injustices, so. I don’t know.

David: [00:04:40] 

But skateboarding, particularly, because, you know, the nature of the skateboarder is not the same as a baseball player, let’s say. [laughs] 

Nora: [00:04:51] 

No. It’s not. I like it because I think, with skateboarding, it’s like you have that platform where with social media there is so much, so many eyes on you, and people do love what you’re doing and like to follow it. But you don’t have the publicity and I think you have more freedom. Kind of like the freedom that a creator or a music artist or somebody has to speak about things. If you’re a professional baseball player, they definitely filter you more. Does that make sense? Cause you have a team and all of these people. And I think being a skater, I don’t have anybody who’s like telling me what to say and what not to say. Which is nice.

David: [00:05:44] 

Well, you have your sponsors.

Nora: [00:05:47] 

Yes. [laughs]

David: [00:05:47] 

Which, I imagine might have something to say. Do you find that skateboarding is, um, in general, more progressive politically that anything else? And might that have something to do with kind of the outsider status that it sort of starts out with? 

Nora: [00:06:14] 

Yeah. I think skating for a long time has been really, like, punk and really, um, obviously outside of the norm. So, outside of the normal organized sports. But we’ve actually had a pretty big problem, I think, with misogyny and with rape culture. Honestly, there is a lot of racism in that. Because that punk thing crosses over to, unfortunately, a lot of white supremacy in America. And the best thing is the younger people, most of the skateboarding, and even a lot of the older guys are extremely open and extremely vocal, and they’re starting to listen and say, and do the right thing. I mean, right now, in the last eighteen months, for instance, like the queer movement of skateboarding has been one of the most positive things I’ve ever witnessed. And I think that is just like one testament to how skaters group together even if they look different or have slightly different belief systems. But everybody merges and really unifies in a pretty unique way. So, it’s pretty amazing.

David: [00:07:35] 

I had Briana King recently, and she’s very outspoken about all of that.

Nora: [00:07:42] 

Yeah.

David: [00:07:42]

Do you think it’s the boy’s queer as well, or is it just like a girl’s, moment in that?

Nora: [00:07:48]  

It’s starting with the women.

David: [00:07:49] 

Yeah.

Nora: [00:07:49] 

It’s starting with the women a hundred percent. Most of the professional women that we know who laid the groundwork for what I do, and what we all do, are gay and were not comfortable speaking about it, you know, ten, fifteen years ago. But Elissa Steamer, Alexis Sablone, we all knew it and most of the guys knew it. It was never a problem. But there were never enough eyes on women’s skateboarding for it to be a topic of conversation. So, with the women’s side of things, which is like the biggest growth in skateboarding, probably, is the women’s side. You talked to Briana, so you know how absolutely insane and great it is. 

David: [00:08:38] 

She mentioned that she has a thousand people showing up at these meet-ups that she does, around the world at this point.

Nora: [00:08:44] 

Oh. It’s amazing. The work she’s doing is really amazing. Cause she transcended this pretty interesting line in skateboarding. Where, with social media, there’s a lot of girls who got into skating and became these like influencer types, where they kind of do freelance modeling. They do all this stuff, and they’re not at the level of skateboarding but they end up proceeding and getting more recognition than a lot of girls who are pro-level. 

And so, it was like a hard time to watch this, because as a woman, you’re like, “Yes. We have more girls on boards. We have all this.” But then it’s difficult to see girls suffer because of how they look, and because of how they want to represent themselves because they’re not models. But, Briana’s used her image and her beauty to transcend that thing where she gets recognition, she’s getting to be better and better at skateboarding, but she’s also doing so many good things for it that it’s really amazing to watch. And I have a lot of respect for her. 

David: [00:10:01] 

Some of that may be a point to this transition from the subculture. You know, because skating is like really a culture, it’s not just a sport –

Nora: [00:10:12] 

Yeah.

David: [00:10:13] 

you’re an artist, you know people who are very involved in the arts, again, making skateboarding very unique from most of the other sports.

Nora: [00:10:25] 

Yeah. 

David: [00:10:27] 

Maybe surfing, I think, overlaps in that way as well.

Now that it’s becoming more of an industry, a thing that’s, like you said, attracts an influencer who can skate, but it’s not really their culture that they come from necessarily.

Nora: [00:10:45] 

Yeah.

David: [00:10:45] 

They’re just, “Okay. I like to skate and I’m cute, and someone will take my picture. And, that’s all great.”

Nora: [00:10:51] 

Yeah.

David: [00:10:51] 

You’re sort of in-between that yourself, a lot of the people that you associate with, based on the videos I’ve seen, are from that early journey- generation, 

Nora: [00:11:08] 

Yeah. I definitely think, like a year or two ago, I was a lot more defensive about a lot of it. Because, personally, I saw a lot of girls who were the type of girls who used to bully me in middle school for being a skateboarder. And you see this type of girl get a camera, and get a crop-top, and skate down the street. [laughter] And all of a sudden, she’s getting these accolades. And you’re like, “That’s not skateboarding. That’s-” And like the twelve-year-old Nora is so what’s the word? I’m still kind of protective of my love for skating and things. But I do think that there’s so much more good to come out of this growth in women’s skating than there is, you know, there is harm or bad, or whatever. Because even if you don’t like somebody’s image, I’d still rather they get on a skateboard than not. 

It’s interesting. It’s very interesting.

David: [00:12:15] 

Right. Because even with the Olympics, for example, as much as it turns it into something that now you could have an ambition as a kid to be in the Olympics and do it as a skateboarder.

Nora: [00:12:28] 

Yeah.

David: [00:12:28] 

Which is very different from how you grew up when you couldn’t even imagine that. But at the same time, it brings more people to the sport, which is a good thing. 

Nora: [00:12:38] 

Exactly. It’s a double-edged sword, but I do think there’s a lot more positive to come out of it than negative. I’m wary of the Olympics stuff on the level of the skateboarder. I am a little worried about the people, primarily, the kids who are gonna be these Olympians. Because I’ve seen the inside of it, and the soccer mom, skate mom, thing is really bizarre to me. And I see these parents and they freak me out. [laughs]

David: [00:13:16] 

The skate mom. Yeah. I haven’t thought of that. That’s a new thing, right?

Nora: [00:13:19] 

That is the scariest thing to me. I was doing the contest for a bit. And last year, I decided that it wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to pursue the Olympic stuff. And frankly, we have so many talented skaters, especially when it comes to the women and the girls. The girls who are skating and who will be in the Olympics are extremely talented. But I’m also very worried about their well-being. [laughs] And like, yeah. It’s just crazy. It’s craziness.

David: [00:13:51] 

Because they’re young?

Nora: [00:13:53] 

Because they’re young, and the way that they’re being pushed is really intense, you know? You’ve got parents who’ve never stepped on a skateboard before. And skateboarding it’s not like basketball, it’s not like sports where you’re not putting yourself on the line, necessarily, playing basketball. But when you’re a little kid and you’re spinning upside down on a twelve-foot wall, and you’re not even wearing a helmet half the time. You’re putting yourself on the line. And there’s a lot of parents who push their kids to breaking points. And it’s scary to see kids get hurt. It’s scary to see them emotionally, I know so many kids who burnt out and who have suffered, and don’t even speak with their parents anymore because of how they were pushed in skateboarding. And it’s really difficult to watch, because they are talented.

David: [00:14:55] 

There’s actually a documentary that Alex Winter directed that’s on Netflix about child stars.

Nora: [00:15:02] 

Yes.

David: [00:15:03] 

Oh, have you seen it? Because it touches-

Nora: [00:15:05] 

Showbiz Kids? The new one that just came out?

David: [00:15:07] 

Yes. Yes. It’s great. Because he interviews a lot of child stars, and exactly what you were saying, many have had other huge problems. They don’t speak to their parents. They were abused, God knows, you know, what else.

Nora: [00:15:29] 

It’s so horrible.

David: [00:15:31] 

Yeah. So, they’re- And he made a point that it wasn’t just a Hollywood thing. 

Nora:[00:15:43] 

It’s happening and it’s intense and it’s weird, because it’s not something that I’ve ever been subjected to. I played soccer as a kid. So, you see the aggressiveness in parents, but when it gets pushed into the action sports world, it’s really scary. Cause you got parents who, literally, never stepped on a skateboard. [laughter] They don’t know the danger that they put their kids in when they push them like that. But I don’t know, man.

David: [00:16:20] 

It’s also they’re kind of victims of social media themselves. Because they become addicted to the followers and likes, and all of that stuff. So, you know, so they-

Nora: [00:16:29] 

Yeah.

David: [00:16:30] 

It’s like intense, I’m sure, much worse than even it could have been years ago, 

Nora: [00:16:34] 

Oh, I can’t imagine being a kid right now. I cannot imagine it.

David: [00:16:39] 

Well, in fact, you know, speaking of social media. I did look at some of your stuff. And I saw that, you not only just respond, you also put things out there on your own. And a post about your undiagnosed panic disorder, OCD, and anxiety. And addressing it to young, teen girls, I guess, mostly. What made you feel like you had to say something about it right now?

Nora: [00:17:16] 

This year has been absolutely tumultuous for everybody. I think everybody is suffering to some degree with the pandemic, with changing their routines, with politics, with everything. And, you know, I have friends here who have children who are trying to go back to school, just on Maui. And we’ve been pretty contained with the virus. And so, kids are getting back to school, but they’re wearing masks. And I’m just thinking of how stressful this time was for me, like in high school, specifically. Because I was going from my summer routine to going back into a classroom, and shifting through the halls – Like, I still have nightmares where I wake up [laughter] or I’m in a dream, and I can’t remember my rotation of classes for the day. So, I can’t remember which class I’m supposed to go to, because it rotated everyday, and I had to go to like guidance. And basically, they’re like, “You graduated. Why are you here?” [laughter] And it’s a whole nightmare. 

But I just think of the stress that I had eight years ago in high school, versus- Oh, gosh. Almost ten years ago. Versus, kids now. Because on top of the normal stress of school, they now have the stress of potentially having to wear a mask and have all of these special routines they have to get to just so they can be safe in class. And then they have social media. They have Tik-Tok, they have Instagram, they have Snapchat. And I cannot imagine dealing with all of that. I also had found a photo of myself from high school. And I was looking at that photo that I posted, and I was like, “Who the eff is that girl?” [laughter] Compared to who I am now, you know? 

David: [00:19:22] 

So, who is she? Is it very different? How do you feel?

Nora: [00:19:25] 

She’s not necessarily different personality-wise or anything, but if I could go back and tell myself then what I would be doing now, the weight that would have come off my shoulders as that eighteen-year-old girl. You know, I just think a lot of kids can’t get past those years. Because you haven’t lived anything other than school and home life. So, I think it was really important to tell kids that, like, “Hey, I know you watch me and I am living my dream, and you probably think everything’s good and dandy. But it hasn’t always been like this.” And I felt like it was really important for people to see, “This is me ten years ago. This is me when I was your age.” You know? And it was not fun. [laughs] And I never in a million years thought I would be a professional skateboarder, living the dream. And I just think it’s really important to show that progress, because a lot of people can’t picture themselves in the place that they want to be. But it’s so important to not give up on yourself, I think.

David: [00:20:40] 

That was, particularly a disruptive year of your life, wasn’t it? Like eighteen? Was that when you made your decision to move and your family was going through stuff.

Nora: [00:20:53] 

Totally. Yeah.

David: [00:20:54] 

This was particularly a hard time for you as well.

Nora: [00:20:59] 

I had had an anxiety disorder, or a panic disorder, that I had basically had my entire life, you know? At two-years-old, I used to hold my breath until I fainted so that I didn’t have to go to daycare. At six-years-old, I punched my hand through a glass pane door because I thought I was locked out of my dad’s office. I had this separation anxiety when I was kid, where I had to have eyes on my parents. In high school, I had a really hard time, just in the high school environment. I guess I was agoraphobic, where I was a homebody. I didn’t like going to school. I felt very uncomfortable. Basically, I thought I was gonna have a panic attack, so I would get panicked. It was just a vicious cycle. And I really wasn’t diagnosed until I was about twenty-two. I had been living in California for a few years, and still having a lot of issues with it. And my therapist is just like, “Yeah. You have a panic disorder. You have OCD tendencies. And, you know, generalized anxiety. So, this is what you have. This is what you’ve always probably had.”

David: [00:22:12] 

So- So, you- What a relief to find out how messed you were, right? [laughter]

Nora: [00:22:16] 

Exactly.

David: [00:22:16] 

But they had a name for it and you knew what to something about it.

Nora: [00:22:19] 

Yeah. Exactly. And just being aware and talking about it, and having that outlet, um, was huge. I had tried therapy in high school, but I wasn’t willing to be honest. I was so much more comfortable lying and being like, “Oh, it’s not really a problem.” Because I didn’t want my parents to be stressed out about me, I didn’t want all this stuff. So it was much more comfortable for me to suffer than to work on anything. And that’s super common. Most people still do that even as adults. And, I was finally out of the house, and it was basically “It’s up to me.” You know, my life is up to me. So, I need to work on it, find the root of the problem. But yeah. It took twenty-two years. [laughs]

David: [00:23:10] 

Well, but then as an athlete, this growth of another kind.

Nora: [00:23:18] 

Totally.

David: [00:23:18] 

You were actually discovered at a skate park by Jason Celaya.

Nora: [00:23:23] 

Mmhm. Mmhm.

David: [00:23:24] 

Of Welcome Skateboards. Saw you skating and thought, “Wow. She’s pretty good. Maybe we can work together.” How lucky was that? I mean, wasn’t that huge?

Nora: [00:23:34] 

Dude. You know, you look back on your life and you’re like, “Okay. There’s like thresholds. There are instances that completely change everything.” In that, you can visualize and remember. And that’s one of the biggest ones. Because I moved to California, and then my mom moved with me because my parents had lost the house and my mom works for Apple. So, she can technically work out of any store as long as she gets hired at that store. So, she’s like, “I can get hired in California at a store. We can live together. It’ll save us a bunch of money.” My parents, obviously, felt much more comfortable with me moving across the US if one of them was with me. We shared a car. And I was like, “Yeah. Let’s do it. Like, this is great.” So, we ended up living in Rancho Santa Margarita at first. Which is like south-east Orange County. Very kind of sterile.

David: [00:24:38] 

[laughs] Wherever. But there was an early scene there of, uh, skateboarders, in Orange County.

Nora: [00:24:46] 

Totally. Totally. I mean, it’s a hell of a lot better than southeastern Mass. 

Much better than Massachusetts for skating. But because My mom got a job at that store in Mission Viejo, and because I was skateboarding at those local parks, and that’s just where we moved to California, I met Jason. And it wasn’t until like the second or third time he saw me that he said anything. Because he thought I was Brazilian and he didn’t think I spoke English. [laughter] Like, he assumed. He assumed-

David: [00:25:17] 

Did he know your name? Isn’t your name Brazilian or Portuguese?

Nora: [00:25:20] 

Yeah. It’s Portuguese. So, I think he just assumed and I had essentially appeared out of nowhere. So maybe he just thought that- it was like a little kid said something one day to him, and someone was like, “Oh. She’s Brazilian. Or she doesn’t speak English.” [laughter] And that just was like the start.

David: [00:25:42] 

Hysterical.

Nora: [00:25:42] 

And then he finally came up to me and he was like, “Yeah. You speak, uh, you speak English.” It was hilarious. But basically, we talked shop one day, and I didn’t even know he owned and did all the artwork for Welcome until the second time I met him. And that’s when he offered me a job at Welcome. So yeah, the rest is kind of history. [laughs]

David: [00:26:06] 

Cool. Yeah. So that was, yeah, that was helpful. 

Nora: [00:26:11] 

Yeah.

David: [00:26:11] 

You know, sort of must have made you think about yourself in a whole different way. You were part of a community. Prior to that, I imagine, you were kind of isolated on your own as a newcomer.

Nora: [00:26:21] 

Completely. Yeah.

David: [00:26:22] 

And everyone welcomed you? Or what was that experience like?

Nora: [00:26:26] 

Yeah. Yeah-yeah-yeah. It was super welcoming. Literally. We worked, um, I worked out of his house with, um, another guy, Daniel Vargas, who was also a pro for Welcome now.. And yeah, we just worked out of his house. I learned Quickbooks. I packed boxes. And then eventually, we were on to the first, second, third, and then fourth warehouse, you know. Office space. So, I worked there full-time for about four-and-a-half-years until I got sponsored by Adidas.

David: [00:27:01] 

Yeah. So, two things. Is that something you imagined having your own, 

Nora: [00:27:12] 

I’m telling you, I live a fairy tale most of the time. This is what I mean by that post I made the other day. Like, if you told seventeen or eighteen-year-old Nora that she was gonna ride for Adidas and travel the world, and have like a clothing line, and all of this stuff. I would have laughed in your face. When I got on Adidas, it was a full pinch me moment. And it was the first time that I was able to put everything into skateboarding, and see what could happen. It was crazy. I was a big Missy Elliott fan growing up, still am. So, you know, as an eleven-year-old, I had a lot of performance fleece and I had a lot of shell toes. [laughter] A lot of Adidas shell toes. I had that fuzzy white kangol hat. I just was in it. So I was really excited. [laughs]

David: [00:28:12] 

Nice. Let’s talk about the business a little bit too. Because I’m curious, in general, I’m not singling out skateboarding – but just in general in businesswomen are fighting for equal pay for equal work.

Nora: [00:28:29] 

Yep.

David: [00:28:28]

It’s- it’s a conversation. And I don’t really know how it is.

Nora: [00:28:32] 

Totally.

David: [00:28:34] 

But obviously, you know, are women paid the same as the men in- in these? is there any transparency there? 

Nora: [00:28:45] 

So there wasn’t for a long time. For a long time women were not getting paid, as much as the guys, skate-wise. When I was first getting sponsored, I remember getting a lot of product, but not ever getting the contract or kind of getting shortchanged. And being like, “what’s the point of taking like two hundred fifty dollars a month?” That doesn’t create a career for me. So, then I ended up getting an agent. That was what changed a lot of it for me was my agent, to this day, Ryan Clements. He’s out of Tampa and he’s a big skateboarder himself, works with a ton of great skaters, and has really changed the game for a lot of people. Because he knows what the skateboard industry makes, he knows what’s fair, he knows what other people are making – specifically, the men. And he really went to bat for me, because the first conversation I ever had with him was “Hey, I wanna do this. I wanna be a pro skater. Here’s what I need to make a month to do that.” And that was our goal. Our goal was to hit that. I was like, “Let’s make twenty-five hundred dollars a month.” “Can we do that? Can I do that? Can I harness the endorsements to do that?” And, we just started from there. And then, an opportunity arose with Adidas, and they showed interest, and he had skaters who had contracts with them. He already had a relationship.

David: [00:30:31] 

Yeah.

Nora: [00:30:32] 

And just from there, he was like, “This is what she can do. She wants to film in this park. She’s gonna go to this event. She can travel whenever. Like, let’s do it.” So to have a guy who knows the industry go to bat for you, that was huge. I don’t think I could have done it myself in 2016.

David: [00:30:51] 

Right. No. Yeah. It’s naive of me to even think that you didn’t have an agent. And I wonder, is it common now for most of the athletes to have agents?

Nora: [00:31:01] 

Yeah. But it wasn’t for a long time. You had mentors and you probably had older friends who were pros at one time who could help you. But especially being a girl when I got signed, when the girls still weren’t making really any money. That was huge. And then it was great because he taught me so much. And he held me accountable and he created relationships with people that I didn’t know how to create relationships with. And then what happened was, a lot of the times with him, I still just deal one-on-one with my sponsors and he’s more of like a mediator. He handles things like if I need him to. Helps me with finance stuff. But it’s- it’s really, really cool because- 2016 was really that movement. That was really like that little threshold for the women to start getting paid. Lizzie Armanto, Leticia Bufoni, and myself that was the beginning.

David: [00:32:11] 

And has Adidas, do you know, increased its sales or business with girls and women in the skateboard lines, particularly, in recent years? Is that noticeable yet?

Nora: [00:32:22] 

I think so. I’m pretty sure it is. A lot of people are always inquiring about women’s lines and women’s sizing, and things. So I know it’s been positive. I don’t know any stats or anything, but it’s been good.

David: [00:32:41] 

Well, let’s talk about fashion. Let’s talk about skateboard fashion for a second.

Nora: [00:32:43] 

Yeah. [laughs]

David: [00:32:45] 

I’m curious, is there a girl’s fashion in skateboarding or is it the girl’s version of the boy’s look? [laughs]

Nora: [00:32:57] 

I think right now it’s changing a lot. I’ve always been a huge fan of the workwear stuff, which is like more of a crossover. We used to always wear Dickies, and just like the way Dickies fit for some reason. They fit women’s bodies really great if you get the right size. I have friends who are much bigger than me and curvier, they have great asses, and like they can rock a pair of Dickies. Where I’m like pretty much straight down. The shoulders are like my widest parts. So, if I can look good in Dickies, they can look good in Dickies. Carhartt Work In Progress. There’ve been a lot of brands who have really hit that little niche of women’s workwear. And I think it’s cool. I just think like that oversized pant coming back, that’s like a big statement right now. I love that. And then girls mix it up. I see a lot of girls who wear baggy shirts, but they cut them in half and they do the crop top thing. There’s a huge thing with leggings. Like, a lot of girls wear leggings to skate in, which is gnarly. Skating’s cool because there’s a bunch of little subcultures inside of it, and everybody kind of fits in in their own little zone. But yes, skate fashion. I’m seeing it everyday.

David: [00:34:27] 

But I’ve seen some of the looks that you did. You have kind of a sense of humor as well. Right? Cause you don’t take it too seriously. And you play with colors, I know you’re an artist yourself.

Nora: [00:34:37] 

Yeah.

David: [00:34:38] 

And I see those colors showing up in- in what you’re wearing sometimes as well.

Nora: [00:34:43] 

Yeah.

David: [00:34:44] 

In what you’re painting.

Nora: [00:34:45] 

I like my colors. I love color. A lot of pastels. [laughs]

David: [00:34:50] 

But didn’t I see you in- a ballet skirt or something while skating around? Or what were you wearing? Do you know what I’m talking about?

Nora: [00:34:56] 

I haven’t messed around with a skirt too much, but I have some like bigger, loose-fitting pants that I like to rock. When I did my colorway, when I did my collection with Adidas, my kind of play on it was like grandma chic. We did some pastel chino pants and canary yellow zip-up fleece. And I was like, “How fun is it when you find like your grandmother’s closet and you go through some of that stuff that she’s got? And you’re like, oh my gosh. This is the coolest thing ever.” You know? I love that look. [laughs]

David: [00:35:42] 

Well, good. I’m glad you’re finding some stuff there. Is there a style of- of skateboarding, also, that’s particularly like you could identify as like a girl’s style, or particular tricks that are exclusively on the feminine side? On the women’s side?

Nora: [00:36:06] 

What I’ve actually noticed with a lot of the girls who are skating and learning to skate right now, is they skate everything. If that makes sense. They don’t necessarily only skate street and little stuff and rails. And they don’t only skate transition. They like to crossover, which is really cool. Cause for a long time, skating was much more segregated in terms of you have the street guys and the transition girls, and stuff like that. And now I’m seeing that, especially with the growth of skate parks, like all the amazing skate parks that are popping up all over the world, um, there’s a lot for people to play with. And it’s cool, cause I’ll be on Instagram and there’s like a new girl everyday who’s ripping, and posting themselves skating and learning stuff. And it’s cool, cause I see them do a trick on the quarter pipe and then they come down and they hit the little flat bar. So, I think that’s definitely pretty awesome. It’s a lot of versatility on a skateboard.

David: [00:37:04] 

Those two worlds are, you know, I’m glad to hear that they’re crossing over.

Nora: [00:37:09] 

Yeah.

David: [00:37:09] 

Do you think that’s particularly a girl’s thing? But the boys are still, like, have to be one or the other?

Nora: [00:37:14] 

No. I think it’s definitely both. I think it’s definitely both. But when I was growing up, I didn’t necessarily like to skate the street stuff at the park that I would skate at because that was where the local pros were skating. And I was really intimidated by them hitting the rails and ollying over the pyramids and stuff. So I was kind of hiding in the bowl in the back, and that’s probably why I skated so much transition primarily. But now there’s just such a great community. Like, you can go to a skate park and there’s sometimes more girls than guys. So the blending, obviously, of these people and- It’s just the way skating is. A lot of the best dudes who are pro right now, they can skate everything. And it’s the same for back in the day. John Cardiels and Tony Trujillos, these dudes skated everything. And that, I think, says a lot, and people still admire and watch those videos. So, now we have all these skate parks, it’s like, it’s too easy.

David: [00:38:16] 

But then you have, you know, someone like Boo Johnson, who doesn’t want to compete, you know?

Nora: [00:38:23] 

Yeah. Totally.

David: [00:38:23] 

His whole attitude is, “No. That’s not my thing.”

Nora: [00:38:26] 

Yeah. I feel that. I’m in the same boat. [laughs]

David: [00:38:29] 

Oh, really?

Nora: [00:38:30] 

Yeah.

David: [00:38:30] 

Oh, is that why you decided not to pursue that competition?

Nora: [00:38:34] 

Yeah. I was always doing contests because it was an opportunity to travel and skate with friends. And, for a long time, it was really the only way girls and women were having any sort of coverage was because of contests. And, once I did that for like ten years. And as I got older, and the more I skated, the less happy I was doing contests. Because it was fitting a circle in a square, you know? Was not my thing. It stressed me out. It made me- gave me a bad attitude. I was not having the same fun that I was having just filming.

David: [00:39:24] 

Hey, Just Have Fun. You know, Boo’s company, JHF. There you go. [laughs] That’s his-

Nora: [00:39:26] 

Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. It’s like-

David: [00:39:32] 

…his philosophy.

Nora: [00:39:32] 

He gets it. He totally gets it.

David: [00:39:34] 

Yeah. Well, obviously you get it too. And so happy to have had a chance to talk with you today. This was really a lot of fun.

Nora: [00:39:43] 

Yeah. It’s awesome thank you.

David: [00:39:43] 

Nora Vasconcellos. Did I say it good?

Nora: [00:39:47] 

Yeah. That’s it. Vasconcellos.

David: [00:39:49] 

Okay. Thank you very much.

Nora: [00:39:51] 

Thank you so much.

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