The Samarria Brevard Interview


samarria titlePhoto: Brook

Samarria made a splash in the contest scene, but after her King of the Road appearance, the enjoi pro's been in a league of her own. Longtime friend Tré Williams covers her big breaks going from Tony Hawk tutorials to riding with the Panda Patrol—from our September ’20 issue.

Alright, ‘Marria. What’s going on today? What’s poppin’?
Not too much. Just landed a couple tricks. Got a couple clips, some photos.

Sounds like a solid day! How’d you get hooked on skating and what was the scene like when you were a kid?
You know better than I.

We’re from the same zone! It’s funny asking these questions ’cause it’s like the same story.
Well shoot, I seen you and my brother Sun skating and I was shooting hoops and I wanted to do what you guys were doing, ‘cause at that time anyone got anything new we was all hoppin’ on.

Literally, everybody was doing it together. It was like if one kid got a toy the whole apartment’s got that toy. What were some of the biggest challenges when you started? What was hard for you?
When I finally started trying flip tricks. When you guys started doing flip tricks I was like, I gotta learn how to do that. When I first started trying those I was like, How are they doing that? This don’t make sense!

Samarria Brevard quote: I just be doing kickflips all the time

And now you’ve got the best kickflip out of all of us. Yours is probably better than mine or your brother’s.
You think?

I mean, you kickflip more stuff than I do. That shit is hard.
I just be doing kickflips all the time.

Tough as nails, Samarria makes the mag with a heavy kickflip in AZ

And that’s why they’re the best!
Well, thank you.

Who were your first favorite skaters? Who did you look up to?
You and Sun, man. You guys were like a year ahead of me on that one. I was learning everything from you. It wasn’t like we were going around all the time. Whenever we got to go downtown and do stuff I was always with you and you could actually skate that stuff. So growing up it was you and the older homies when we started going out to hunt and stuff.


Were there ever any black girl skaters when we was growing up?

There was that girl Ashanique. She skated for a hot second. She was Cortez’s cousin. She showed up to the park a handful of times. She raps now.

You know who else raps now? Find out with the new track by Mahrii

What about the pros? Were there any pros you liked?

I knew Tony Hawk ’cause you brought home the Tony Hawk tutorial video from the library.

We lived across the street from the library so I would go over there. They had a section where you could check out DVDs and I found Tony Hawk’s Trick Tips. It was Tony Hawk and Eric Koston; they had two volumes. So I checked them out with my library card and took them to your house and we all watched them and learned some tricks.
It was Tony Hawk teaching us how to tré flip.

samarria photo 1Samarria is the first black woman with her name on a board. Think about that. Backside flip, 2020     Photo: Burnett

The Birdman teaching us tré flips. I’m pretty sure he was learning them during the trick-tip video! It was solid! At what point did you feel like you could make something out of skateboarding, like get sponsored and make something happen?
Well, there was that point when I kinda felt like I couldn’t get sponsored. Like, Oh, there’s no way. So I was just hanging out skating with you guys. I don’t know if I ever really switched that on until it actually started happening. Then it was like, Oh, maybe I can do something with this and make this my career and progress with it.

I feel like it happened fast for you.
Yeah, you know what it was? It was ’cause of X Games. Once Lisa Whitaker got me in there and I started meeting everyone else, that was kinda like the beginning, meeting the whole female pro community. That was probably when it finally set in. Those Supergirl Jams, though. Those started in 2010.

You won that one, right?
No, that was the next year. I won the qualifying round and tré flipped the mini Carlsbad gap at Skatelab and, dude, they’re like, “Okay, now for the second round!” And I was so tired. I was like, I just did my best stuff! What do you mean a second round?
  
So the next year you won, with a vengeance.
Yeah, the next year I won and they put me in with the pro girls and that’s when I sprained my ankle trying to tré flip the five stair. Still got the cape, though. I got a Supergirl cape! I think it’s still at my mom’s house, actually.

What were some of the big moments for you and who were the people you met who helped you get to where you are today?
First step was stepping on the skateboard with you and Sun, that was big—skating with you guys every day and progressing every day. Then I met Lisa. She stepped into the story when I went to the Supergirl Jam and she met my mom, which was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. ’Cause if my mom wouldn’t have met Lisa, there’s no way I would’ve did half the things I did.

Samarria Brevard quote: Nothing’s impossible and you can make the life that you want.
Hell no!
Thank God my mom met Lisa! Then Lisa introduced me to Mimi Knoop and then Mimi introduced me to the world and life in a different way and really opened my eyes to the idea that nothing’s impossible and you can make the life that you want. So she’s a very important person in my life. And then I met Louie on King of the Road. After that, whoo, life took an unexpected turn towards greatness.

Go back with some of Samarria's best moments on King of the Road, 2016

After you arrived on that jet ski!
Yep! There’s so many more people—Joe Brook, Burnett. Honestly, if he didn’t hit me up for Bust or Bail—there was a Wheels of Fortune that weekend and everybody was there but I went to Bust or Bail and got the $500 kickflip. Then he asked me to go on King of the Road.

You played your cards right! So what’s going on, are you in the Olympics this year? I gotta get to the real stuff.
Well, we gotta wait ’til 2021 now. It’s not official yet but I’m still on the Olympic team. I have some chances. As long as there’s some qualifying contests in 2021, there’s a good chance I’m gonna be on the team. I feel pretty confident about it.

You’re an Olympian in my eyes already. You got that.
Oh, thank you.

How has it changed your life for better or worse?
For the worse, people won’t stop asking me about it.

I gotta admit, that’s pretty bad.
Nah, a lot of good things have already come from it like getting a trainer and the opportunity to get myself in shape and focus on my goals and what I really want to accomplish throughout the year, just by the little extra help the government is giving.

Has all of that helped with the way you’ve been skating? You’ve been skating great!
Definitely. For the longest time I was on the edge of yes or no. Like, Maybe I don’t feel like I’m the person for this, my character, who I am and who I’m trying to be maybe doesn’t line up too well. And then I felt like it was an opportunity, especially because I’m getting older, to really just focus and get my skating to the level I’ve always wanted it to be at. And I think with the contests it’s helped me be extra competitive so I can put more energy into being really good in the streets. ’Cause honestly that’s the main part I care about, is getting these street parts out. But I’m not gonna lie, it’s a pretty crazy opportunity to be a part of the Olympics so I might as well try to give my best.

samarria photo 2Olympics bound, but her heart is in the streets. Double-set kickflip during lockdown     Photo: Burnett

One-hundred-and-twenty percent. In light of current events, has there been a time when you’ve been affected by racism?
Yeah, actually I was up at Woodward once out in Tehachapi. It was late and we were getting dinner. We went to this restaurant and it was predominantly white. It didn’t matter what I was doing, all eyes were on me. I was walking to the bathroom and I was watching people stare me down and I was so uncomfortable. In the back of my head I had ideas of what they were probably thinking about. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling being around people where you aren’t sure if they have a problem with you. You know you didn’t do anything but they give you that look of annoyance like, What are you doing here?

Have you had any bad run ins with the police?
The police, nah. I feel like the girl card helps me a lot dealing with the police at skate spots.

So you’re safe.
A little bit protected. I feel like if it was any other situation it might go bad.

Yeah, but skating, they’re gonna rough me up first. I’ll gladly take the heat for you. How has the pandemic and the police brutality and protests affected you?
Honestly, as far as a whole it’s just made me really sad. I’ve been really sad. The full array of emotions, actually. You see people protesting and really pushing the movement and you think, Oh, man, that’s awesome. That’s amazing. That’s beautiful. Then you fall into sadness ’cause bad things are still happening. It’s not even like it stopped—even with the awareness it’s still happening! Then you’ve got this pandemic still going on and you can’t see the people you care most about. People are going months without seeing people they care about. That’s already making you sad. All of it. It’s so much. It’s a roller coaster. I just try to focus on the good stuff that’s coming out of this so I can stay sane and find my place in helping the good.

That’s good to keep levelheaded. I feel like in your position you kinda have to stay positive for the people who follow you. I saw recently on Instagram that you reminded people to check in with each other. What made you want to do that?
That was just like it hit me, it hit my spirit or something. I talked to a couple people, and even us talking—stuff has just been hard! The outside world and dealing with the inside world. I just felt like it was a good time to remind people, “Yo, check in!” I know how I’m feeling. And I’ve talked to other people who are feeling the same way, so there must be a lot of people feeling this way. There’s so much going on that it’s easy to get distracted and not be centered at home. It just hit me like, I gotta share this message.

Yeah, people gotta remember to check in. ’Cause things can look good on the outside but inside at home that’s not what it looks like. That’s good that you spread that message. I want the people I know to check in with me, too. This has been a great interview. To wrap this up, what’s most important to you and what are your hopes and plans for the future?
The most important thing for me right now is really educating myself, in multiple areas. Like, I’m trying to educate myself in what’s going on in the world, but even financially educating myself, educating myself in cooking—like really trying to bring more knowledge and skills into my life. Of course, I’m doing everything I can to uplift my family. The best way I can help them is to be the best person I can be so that’s been the main focus. I hope in the future we can change, really find a way to unite and be this great country we claim to be. What I really want for everyone is to be happy and healthy.

samarria photo 3You can't teach style. Samarria puts her self-educated ollie skills to good use        Photo: Brook
  • Alphonzo Rawls: 30 Years of Skate and Art Innovation

    Alphonzo Rawls: 30 Years of Skate and Art Innovation
    While the transition from being a pro is a hard one for many, Alf’s curiosity and drive has allowed him a life in skateboarding on his own terms. See how he made the switch from destroyer to designer in this piece from our September '20 mag.
  • The Pioneers: Firsts in Black Skateboarding

    The Pioneers: Firsts in Black Skateboarding
    We owe a big debt to the Black skaters who paved the way. Check the history to see the trailblazers who made it happen and made skateboarding better for all. As seen in our September '20 issue.
  • Atiba Jefferson: The People Who Made Me

    Atiba Jefferson: The People Who Made Me
    From Barbee to Bad Brains and Kareem to Kobe, Atiba’s pointed his lens at some of the most towering figures in skating and beyond. See what happens when meeting your heroes goes right in this feature from our September ‘20 mag.
  • The Ray Barbee Interview

    The Ray Barbee Interview
    Sage Elsesser talks with Ray about black culture, the birth of street skating and why the party life was not for him. Dig into some timeless wisdom from the Sept '20 issue.
  • Tre Williams NM212

    Tre Williams NM212
    Tre fights for a serious double-set wallride in this quick hit for New Balance. After every slam, the crew’s there to keep him amped. You know we love a battle.