Boundary Breakers: Briana King Does It All
Briana King knows a thing or two about multi-tasking. At only 25 years old, she’s established herself as a model, skateboarder, creative, and musician. Though her upbringing had certain limitations, she used those challenges to fuel her adventurous spirit. Eventually, she bought a one-way ticket to Australia, where she knew no one.
Not only does Briana know how to balance a lot, she’s a fast learner. As a child, she learned six instruments. As a teenager, she was scouted for a big, commercial modeling job and figured out the industry on her own. As an adult, she revisited skateboarding and used it to find and support a group of likeminded women.
We caught up with Briana to talk about her journey, as well as her skateboarding shoe of choice, the DC E. Tribeka.
1) You grew up in Los Angeles and have said that you were somewhat sheltered. How did you pass the time back then? How did you deal with loneliness?
I passed time by playing music. I play six instruments, so music was always something that I had in the house, as well as a lot of animals. I play flute, clarinet, piano, vibraphone, guitar, and a bit of violin and cello. Music was always just something I did for fun, an outlet. When I wasn’t playing music, I would stare at a tree or a plant in the house or obsess over the piano or the cat. Now I know how to pay attention to what seem like dumb details in everyday in life, because at the time, that was all I had.
“Music was always just something I did for fun, an outlet.”
- Briana King
2) What made you want to go to Australia and start a new life there?
Since I was so sheltered, I decided that I would go to the furthest place where they still speak English. I just got up and left. I didn't tell my mom. I had no money. I needed to show myself that I could take care of myself. I needed to be able to think for myself. I was scared shitless on the plane. At one point, I thought, “Wow, I think I just ruined my entire life.” I didn't sleep the entire 18-hour flight. Then I just decided to hope for the best, and everything worked out so perfectly for me.
3) How did modeling become part of the picture?
Somebody randomly came up to me during my first week in Australia and said that they were casting for a commercial. They asked if I could model, and I said sure. That job got me in a storefront. Then an agency hit me up, and everything kept flowing from there. I got super lucky.
4) So after six years there, you made a quick move to New York City. What happened?
I randomly got a job back in Australia while I was working overseas in New Zealand. My agent asked me to come back and said that he didn’t have time to process my visa, and that everything would be fine. Of course, it wasn’t fine. I got handcuffed and detained at the airport. At that point, I was like, “Well, I've never been to New York. I'm just gonna go to New York now.”
“Somebody randomly came up to me during my first week in Australia and said that they were casting for a commercial. They asked if I could model, and I said sure."
- Briana King
5) Was NYC the first place where you started to skateboard, or was it a part of your life beforehand?
I grew up in California, where a lot of people skateboard. Everyone around me was skateboarding, and I've always been obsessed with skateboarding videos. What’s crazy is that I was allowed to skateboard in front of my house, right in front of the stairs. One time, on Halloween, I decided to sneak away and go to this floor stair. That’s when I broke my ankle, and my mom was just like, “You're done with this forever.
In Australia, I actually lived across the street from the skate park, yet I would never skate. I would just sit and watch everyone else. There were no girls there, so I was uncomfortable. It’s crazy that I lived across the street from a skate park and never rode a skateboard during all of that time.
Right when I got to New York, I freaked out. I stayed at the Conrad Hotel for two whole months and didn't talk to or hang out with anyone. My friend Yasmeen, a skateboarder who I met on Instagram, kept hitting me up like, “Get out of your hotel! Hang out with me!” When I finally met her, she brought like 40 skaters and said, “Everybody, this is Briana. She's awkward. Just be nice.”
6) How do you feel like skateboarding and modeling have helped you become the person you are today?
When I started modeling, I was a bit insecure. All eyes are on you. You think that everything needs to be perfect or that it won’t work out. Modeling and skateboarding made me a lot more comfortable in being who I am. When I was growing up, nobody told me that I was good at anything. Now I know that some days I’m gonna look weird or not do the best job, but also that there will be better days.
I just love what I'm doing, and I’ve worked for it. The whole time I was in Australia, I worked every single day. I never took a vacation. That really paid off. During my first year in New York, I just decided to skateboard, because it made me happy.
7) You’ve talked about “eating crap a million times a day.” How did you get used to that?
I'm never used to it! I just don't really care. It's part of the process. I focus on the positive parts of skateboarding and wanting to land the tricks. You just gotta keep pushing — keep the blood flowing, get up, and do it again.
When I teach other girls and see them sitting on the ground, I'm just like, “Get up. This is your calling.”
“You just gotta keep pushing — keep the blood flowing, get up, and do it again.”
- Briana King
8) How is skating in a group of girls different from the guys?
My group of friends and I all started skateboarding when we were older. To us, it's not everything, but this is what we love and what makes us happy. It’s not a competition. We can be goofy and be ourselves. We’re in it to make friendships and help each other out.
9) What do you like about skating in DC Shoes?
DC shoes are my favorite. I love the Evan Smiths and have every color. I love high tops, and I love shoes with a lot of boardfeel, like the DC E. Tribeka. I can skate in the Tribeka and go out in it, too.
I'll wear almost anything while skateboarding. I have over 150 pairs of shoes! I can wear a single pair for one or two weeks before I have to move on to the next one. I do a lot of street skating and flat ground tricks, so it all just rips against my shoes — the shoelaces and the toes, especially.
10) What advice would you give to people who are trying to do the things you’ve done?
Well, when it comes to a big move, plan things out. Don't just move and hope for the best, even though I did that, and it worked out. Even if I took a bit of time to plan before going to Australia, it would have made my life a lot more comfortable.
When it comes to modeling, invest in yourself. In the beginning, I would even pay certain photographers who I wanted to work with so that I could learn from them. I always scout my locations or even help with styling. Take the time to eat well and take care of your skin and nails. Modeling is a type of art, invest in your own art. Enjoy the whole process.
When it comes to skateboarding, well, who gives a damn who's looking at you! Everyone's gonna stare. Half the people are impressed that you're still standing on the skateboard. People are always gonna judge or have mean things to say. It doesn't matter.
Written by Cedar Pasori
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