The Follow Up: Lacey Baker
I think Lacey Baker's My World part caught a lot of people off guard. I have to assume most skaters were familiar with her before the part dropped, but this most recent offering really highlighted how technically proficient and stylish she has become in the past few years. I hit her up to talk about the the changing face of skateboarding, moving to NYC, being queer and why it's important to always be yourself. Lacey is badass. –Michael Sieben
Your My World part on the Thrasher site currently has 16,000 Facebook likes. A lot of videos up there are lucky if they break the 1,000 mark. Were you surprised by how well it was received?
Yeah, I think people weren't expecting it and it was rad we were able to get it out there like that. I had a lot of people texting me and telling me, "Congratulations." It was really rewarding because me and my friend Tyler Smolinski worked super hard on it. When I met him, it wasn't really planned to be a Thrasher part. We just started working together and he's so talented at filming and editing, it just ended up being this really amazing project and I was really honored when you guys said it could be a Thrasher part.
"I put so much into it. I put everything I had into it. It was 100-percent authentic"
Why do you think the response was better with this part than previous parts you've released?
I think it's because I put so much into it. I put everything I had into it. It was 100-percent authentic. Tyler and I both worked really hard and there weren't any other people involved. So it was just our vision from beginning to end and I think that's why it came out so strong. I got to just focus on skating, and obviously trying to do the best stuff that I could do—trying to learn new tricks and really putting in the time and effort—and his vision and perspective from the filming and editing side of things—it was just rad to work with only one person on a project, not have any other hands in the pot, and for that person to be such a talented storyteller and filmmaker.
And you had another part come out that same week.
Yeah, while I was working on the Thrasher part, there was another all-girl skate film in the works called Quit Your Day Job that I decided to be a part of and that was actually pretty challenging to work on two things at once. I was really psyched that I was able to have a part in both. It’s great to see that the amount of media being put out by girls is increasing. I hope it really has an impact on getting more girls skating.
I was surprised to see that pop up immediately after your other part dropped.
Yeah, people were, like, "What are you doing filming another part?"
"Once I quit my job it turned around 100 percent"So you were obviously working on them simultaneously.
Yeah, the Quit Your Day Job crew is Monique O'Toole and Erik Sandoval and this whole girls crew and we would just go out and skate different spots around LA. But I had been working on this part with Tyler for two years, I think. For the first year and a half of working on it I also worked a full-time job, so it was really difficult to learn new tricks and film consistently and meet up with Tyler because I only had weekends free. But once I quit my job it turned around 100 percent. We went to New York and I got a bunch of tricks in one week. You can see all the New York footage in the video and all of that was filmed over the span of about five days.
And you and Tyler were funding this whole thing yourselves, right?
Yeah. He was just, like, "I'm going to take a trip out there to visit you—hang out and skate," and I was just, like, "That's so fucking rad." But yeah, there was no budget.
So you were working full time as a graphic designer. Are you still making the majority of your money through doing graphic design as a freelancer?
I haven't been doing as much graphic design since moving to New York but I do plan on continuing to do that. I also work at a little coffee shop that my friend owns. It's a really cute spot in the Lower East Side. Also, winning Street League helped me, so I'm not super stressed out about money right now but I'm definitely trying to be strategic about that so that I can eventually focus on skating 100 percent and not have to work a day job that just takes me away from doing what I love. I’d also love to get into design and fashion, take my graphic design background to the next level.
I read an interview with you where you said that you think being a girl skater is more punk these days than being a boy skater. Do you think that because there's such an oversaturation of skate content that anything you can do to stand out helps. Which, in your case, means being female?
Yeah, definitely. You're absolutely right. With Instagram and Facebook, there's like a million things a day being posted, so it's really hard to stand out amongst such a large crowd. It definitely helps. But we have our own little niche. Like me and Alexis Sablone and Vanessa Torres. And then there's the younger girls coming up who are following that. Which is nice. It's this little pocket that feels like home.
I also read where you said—and let me know if I'm summarizing this correctly—that you feel like you get treated differently as a female skateboarder because of the way you look and dress. Is that an accurate summation?
I did have feelings about that at one point, but I feel like there's been a lot of progress around that since then in part because I did say something about it. I think people are starting to look at things differently, so I'm glad that I said that because I think it was a little bit of an eye-opener for some people. And overall, I feel like so much progress is happening right now for the girls' side of skating in general and it's really, really cool to be a part of it. I'm just grateful to be here, see the progress, and hopefully be part of creating some change.
"I feel like so much progress is happening right now for the girls' side of skating in general and it's really, really cool to be a part of it"When did you move to NYC?
I moved here in November. I was planning to come in late February or early March just based off of the winter situation but then there was an unfortunate situation at my apartment where I had to come sooner, so I just decided to come earlier. I'm so glad to be here. I'm so happy.
Is the unfortunate situation something that you can talk about?
Yeah, I was actually out here in New York over the summer for about a month and right when I flew back there was a pretty big fire in the back of the building. But it's a small unit so it affected the whole building. So the plumbing got turned off and we were all displaced so I just took that as a sign and just thought, I'm just going to go to New York now. A lot of people were, like, "This is kinda like the worst time of the year to come here," but I'm, like, "Ehh, I'm not that mad at it." You just wear a jacket. Just layer up and be prepared.
What made you want to move to NYC? What drew you to the other coast?
Well, when I was visiting I just really fell in love with the way the city operates. I like not having to drive. I like that everything is pretty close to get to and the skating out here is fucking dope. And when I went back to LA I just felt super bored, and I just wanted a change. I didn't want to have a car and always be sitting in traffic. It's just refreshing to be here.
"…when I went back to LA I just felt super bored, and I just wanted a change"From Instagram it looks like you hang out with BA pretty often.
Yeah, I do. I'm so happy about that too. He's amazing.
Were you surprised by how supportive the skateboarding community was when he came out of the closet?
No, I wasn't surprised because I feel like he's so essential in the industry that there's no way that anybody could hate on anything about him. And I think it was really powerful for him to take that step in doing that interview because there are a lot of queers in skateboarding and I feel like it's overlooked. It's not like we're not accepted but people just don't know or understand it, so it's really rad that he put that out there in a way that people can understand it.
Because of the way you dress and look, do people ever question your sexual identity? Is that a subject that you've openly discussed?
I mean, I'm not really hiding the fact that I'm a queer person but people don't really out of the blue ask me anything about that.
"I'm not really hiding the fact that I'm a queer person but people don't really out of the blue ask me anything about that"Have you encountered any negativity within skateboarding because of being queer?
No, nothing to my face. I see a lot of people talk about my gender on different social-media platforms. Sometimes it seems like they're trying to be offensive, other times they just don't understand. It doesn't bother me. I'm not sorry.
As a kid growing up in Southern California, who were some of the skaters that you looked up to?
I played Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and I would always pick Andrew Reynolds. But I didn't see skate videos until I was 11 or 12 and that's when I found out about Alexis Sablone and so I always looked up to her from that PJ Ladd video. But it was, like, Reynolds and Alexis and obviously BA. I watched Yeah Right! constantly. I watched the Sorry. video a lot because Geoff Rowley was one of my favorite skaters. Obviously Elissa Steamer. She's the pioneer. So, like, a million times over—I just respect her so much.
Who are some young, up-and-coming female skaters that people should be looking out for?
Oh my God, there are so many. Jenn Soto rips. She's from Jersey and she just moved to LA. Savannah Headden, who also skates for Meow, and then out here I met this girl Rachelle Vinberg whose style is dope and she's just a rad girl.
So now that these two parts are done, what are you working on next?
I just really want to be skating every day now that I quit my full-time job. I’m playing more music and would love to get into design. I want to start learning about nutrition and eating well. I’m looking into how to become the strongest skater I’ve ever been, exploring New York cause it’s amazing here, getting ready for the contest season and the Olympics and hopefully I'll start filming for my next Thrasher part! And I’d love to be a part of something even outside of the skate world, something that can be seen and appreciated by the mainstream world.
So will you be skating in the Olympics in 2020?
I think so. That'd be really cool.
Have you been invited? I have no idea how that works.
I don't know how that works at all. I just know there will be a men's and women's division and if I'm well and not injured then I think I'll be there. But I haven't heard anything about invitations or what any of that looks like yet.
What would be your dream uniform for the women's team?
Oh God, I can't even imagine. I forget that's even a thing. I can't even picture what everybody is going to look like. It's going to be so weird.
"That's why I went to school, because I thought none of this was ever going to happen just because I'm a girl"It's definitely going to be weird. Are there any specific things you would like to see change in order for female skaters to be treated more fairly within the industry?
Yeah, I just think the visibility and the way we're treated is really important. The progress is happening and so it's nice to embrace that because I have spoken out about it and there have been times when I've been really frustrated about it, but I think partially as a result of me talking about it things are just different now. I think as long as we just continue down this path then I really have no complaints. Right now I'm just really stoked about everything that's happening. It's kinda hard to articulate it but I see that there's progress happening and I think that the more it continues to evolve, the more we'll all know what to change or what needs to be talked about. But huge things have already started to happen over the past year. Like, BA's coming out and us—the women's side of stuff—there's all kinds of shit happening for all of us, things that I never thought would actually happen. That's why I went to school, because I thought none of this was ever going to happen just because I'm a girl. It's cool. I'm excited about it. And it’s headed in the right direction.
What are your thoughts on this new president we got?
Oh no. God, no. I fucking–I'm honestly, I'm scared. It's really scary, the political climate right now. But it makes for good community, I guess, all the people coming together to protest and that's pretty empowering. But honestly, what the fuck? I don't understand how he's the president.
I haven't heard The Twilight Zone mentioned so frequently—ever. Anybody you want to thank before we conclude this interview?
I definitely want to thank Lisa Whitaker at Meow skateboards because she's essential. Also, Yulin Olliver, my agent, who is a freaking superhero. I just appreciate her so much.
Do you have any words for the skate kids reading this interview?
From my experience, I just try to be myself and do what I want and not let anyone sway me, and there have been times with the industry where they've wanted me to dress and be a certain way and now that I'm older and doing exactly what I want—I just feel like, do whatever the fuck you want. Always do what makes you happy. I know it's super fucking cliché, but that shit's real.
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