East Coast sister Molly Lewis sat down for a chat with us a while back to talk everything skateboarding – her influences, inspirations and unicorns.
Hey buddy, how are you?
Where are you from?
Originally from Long Island, New York now living in Wilmington, North Carolina- East Coast pride!
What’s Wilmington like?
Wilmington is a really cool place to be! We have a really great surf and skate scene here. Not much of a downhill or freeride scene though.
When did you start skating?
I have been a skater for as long as I can remember. We always had skateboards growing up. When I was 12 years old my mom heard the local skate park was holding all girls skate sessions. I contacted my skater friend Keaton and he and his dad hooked me up with my first real board. I later did a few skate-park contest where I did pretty well. Two years later, at age 14 I made my first longboard with my Uncle Pat and sooner than later got sponsored.
Why were your parents were so supportive of you skating?
My parents saw all the good that comes out of skating. My whole life I have surrounded myself with people who would make me a better person and not bring me down. I had also been surfing for a while so the transition was natural.
Were you the only girl in the skate park?
Well, when I started out I was going to a girls only session at the park! So there were actually no guys haha!
Do you enjoy skating more with a mixed group?
I don’t care too much really. I skate with just guys 90% of the time, so I get really excited when I get to skate with Ysabel or Pam or Amanda or other girls. I don’t get the opportunity much, so normally I get psyched to skate with the girls.
Who are your skating role models?
The biggest role model to me is the guy who got me my first board – Ray Underhill. Ray was a super OG guy. He killed it, he rode for Powell Peralta back in the day, in the original Bones Brigade crew and I find that really cool. He was such a killer skater, but more than that he had the best attitude and was a real responsible and professional guy and I respect that. I’m blessed to have been able to get to know his family on a personal level over the past 10 years.
How did he inspire you?
I have known him since I was just 7 years old. He was the most humble guy. No one would have known he is this super radical skater unless they were told. In fact, I didn’t know or even care that he was on the Bones Brigade and such a gnarly person in the skate community until I started skating myself. That sort of humility is something for me to look up to.
Why did you make your own longboard?
I was actually looking for longboard surf videos on YouTube and kept seeing all the longboard skate ones instead. It looked fun and I was spending the summer with my uncle who has made longboards since he was a teen. So he helped me out a ton.
Do you prefer riding waves or concrete?
The ideal day would be surfing in the morning, then skating in the afternoon haha.
How is the stoke from the water different?
When you’re in the ocean you’re connected to nature in a different way. With freeride skating you’re more connected to how you’re feeling.
Are you Ariel in disguise?
Hahaha! I don’t have red hair, but you’re not the first one to ask this. Actually people have called me Shawn White, Ariel but mostly that new Disney character Merida from that Scottish princess movie called Brave. Everyone I teach surf lessons with called me Merida from that movie and it became my nickname. Then a week later I went on a skate trip with the Original Skateboards team. A few days into the trip Brian Bishop and his girlfriend Heather said I looked like Merida from Brave. Not what I was going for, but its alright. I guess I look like a ginger, curse of the Irish perhaps.
How does it feel to be the first skateboarding princess?
I can’t complain!
What was your first board like?
My first very own skateboard that was mine and I didn’t have to share with my siblings was a world industry board. My first longboard I shaped was a sort of pintail shape.
How did it feel different to the regular boards you’d been riding?
The longboard was awesome. It was like surfing and skateboarding mixed and super chill. I was stoked.
What sort of stuff did you do on it?
I don’t know really, cross step and a few powerslides haha. A shuv it here and there. I definitely was not the fastest. Just cruising and having a good time. Lots of carving.
Did you spend much time on your old popsicle board after that?
Not as much! I still skate parks and stuff just not as frequently. I am in love with mini-ramps still, I just hate to pay a skatepark and wear all the pads they require so I don’t skate mini ramps half as much as I would like.
How did you go from homemade pintail to freeriding?
By watching videos of the big dogs in the industry, figured out about freeriding soon enough.
What happened between breaking your board and getting sponsored?
I made a video after a month of longboarding and Original agreed to put me on the team. I’m not saying it was because of my amazing abilities though haha. I also mentioned a few surf and skate contest results I had, so I guess they saw my potential and put some faith in me.
Were you looking for sponsorship when you made the video?
Yea, I actually sent the video to them and really lucked out.
How long have you been on the team?
I have been on the team since I was 14 haha. So for a while now, will be four years this summer!
Is it hard for young women to get sponsored?
The hard part is not getting sponsored, it is getting girls to try it, then stick with it.
What’s your role in the family?
The Original Skateboards family? It depends; on pro trips it is the baby sister sort of little princess role. While on trips with the youngins I play the mother role haha.
There are people even younger than you?
Yea! Original has reached out to a lot of global riders of different ages. Being on trips with 15 year old boys is fun, but I get the mommy position then right away haha.
Looking back at Molly the grom, what would you have done differently?
I had a real good time and enjoyed skating and I’m stoked I never got too wrapped up in being sponsored.
What’s the best thing about being sponsored?
It gives you a real life experience most other kids don’t get. Being a sponsored rider since I was 14 I had the opportunity to deal with companies and adults in a mature and professional way. It is a good experience to have.
Do you face any challenges as a result of your status?
Yea it’s always hard to please your sponsors. Sponsors never give me a hard time, but you know you have to go to events, do well, make videos and pictures and that can be stressful.
How did you cope with the pressure when you were younger?
I didn’t really feel any pressure when I was younger! Its actually now as I am maturing I want to please my sponsors, yet I’m at the point I want to be able to support myself. So I need to tell companies what I need and it can be awkward haha, so I try to complete my part of the deal before I ask for anything.
Have you gotten girls to try skating?
Actually I’m proud to say I have! Some neighbourhood girls and local girls are out having fun on skateboards. Also I get really humbled and inspired when other girls message me from somewhere else in the world and tell me I have inspired them to skate. That means a lot to me and is one of the best feelings.
What’s the best message you’ve ever gotten?
Any messages from girls who say they look up to me is really encouraging to me! I don’t think I could pick a favourite.
Why don’t they stick with it?
The whole skating scene is so completely male dominated that it can be super intimidating for girls to get into it. It can be uncomfortable for girls to try things and fall and continue to grow surrounded by guys. Girls need to be girls you know. But I see a serious change in the amount of girls participating and it is really rad!
Who were the women who inspired you to stick with it?
2012 was a big game changer for me all thanks to Amanda Powell and Pam Diaz. They were the ones who convinced Original to send Ysabel and I to Maryhill. Then Pam also invited me to the Dominican Republic for a contest and that was real awesome and helped me out a lot. I am also riding for Abec 11 now, and I’m willing to bet Pam put a good word in for me haha. So huge thanks to those two girls, I owe them a lot for sure and they have been a huge inspiration to me, and have helped me in so many more ways.
How was Maryhill?
Really amazing! Was super inspiring to be with the best girls in the scene. It was cool to see how nice the top girls are. Like I met Marisa Nunez for the first time and I was just thinking like “Oh gosh! She’s the fastest!!” Haha but then she was so friendly and humble. That’s really awesome when you think about it.
What advice would you give to young girls too shy to fall?
Just go for it! Falling is lame but everyone does it! I don’t wear knee pads, but most girls do, and even lots of guys, so there’s no shame in being safe.
Any reason why you don’t pad up?
I guess I am too influenced by my park skating background, and pads in core skating just isn’t popular. I remember people close to me, friends and family who I skate with actually saying “if you wear knee pads when you’re longboarding I will have to beat you up for being a kook. I guess I can tolerate the helmet thing…” I hope I’m not being a bad role model or anything, but I just don’t fancy the look of pads haha.
Will there ever be equal participation by both sexes?
I’m not too sure. It would be rad to see in the future though! I’m pretty happy to see the amount of girls out there growing and growing! It’s exciting to see girls trying out skating more and more.
Do you compete?
Yes I only compete in freeride at the moment. I don’t really have hills to practice downhill, so I don’t really love it that much. It just hasn’t grabbed me like the other disciplines of skating has and it feels too much like a sport. I will probably get a lot of hate for saying that because downhill is the “cool” thing to do in longboarding right now haha. But in reality freeriding feels more like just skating to me; freeride is just art and self expression. While I haven’t fallen in love with racing because I feel like I’m just playing a sport or something just trying to get to the bottom first. Racing is a rush and gnarly but not that emotional and important to me the same way freeriding is.
What has been your favourite year so far?
2012 was amazing. It was a breakthrough year for me because I got to go on a good amount of skate trips. I was able to travel the world and win some pretty good contests. Original Skateboards really helped me out get to a handful of places. I can only hope 2013 will be better!
What’s your favourite thing to do on a skateboard?
Depends on my mood. Haha but usually freeriding fast hills with turns to freeride, trying to get flowy and fast.
Where would you like to be in 3 years?
I have some big plans for myself. I will be, for sure, a professional rider but also help to be a part of the growth of longboarding. Downhill skating is growing and I would love to help, I’ve got some great ideas and really plan on being more involved with the community after I graduate.
I think of downhill freeride compared to downhill racing the same as competitive shortboard surfing compared to competitive big wave surfing. While competitive surfing is more popular, fun to watch to the public and easiest to get into and mimic as an average surfer so is downhill freeride. On the other hand, big wave surfing is less popular, less of the general public keep up with it, and even less average people (not professionals) try to do the sport themselves, at the same time big wave surfing is more gnarly, and respected in many instances than competitive shortboard surfing.
Where do you see the growth of Longboarding going?
Personally, in freeriding. Downhill has been around forever and it grows, its been around since the 70’s and never really caught on to the same extent as surfing, street skating, snowboarding etc. So I think more freeriding is the direction it is currently going. I also believe the growing freeride scene will in turn help the established downhill scene continue to grow. I think of downhill freeride compared to downhill racing the same as competitive shortboard surfing compared to competitive big wave surfing. While competitive surfing is more popular, fun to watch to the public and easiest to get into and mimic as an average surfer so is downhill freeride. On the other hand, big wave surfing is less popular, less of the general public keep up with it, and even less average people (not professionals) try to do the sport themselves, at the same time big wave surfing is more gnarly, and respected in many instances than competitive shortboard surfing. That seems alot like how I envision the downhill skate scene in the future. And all the gnarliest skaters will be able to compete in both competitive freeride and downhill, just like today.
How would you like to help?
I will be skating the way I love to skate, and hopefully others think its cool, if not what can you do? I would like to keep pushing the level of skating, especially for the ladies, the bar should be higher, girls can definitely shred!
Aren’t you a professional already?
I get paid to skate for my clothing sponsor Socco socks. They are great people at Socco who promote a really cool skate and surf culture full of good vibes. I’m also working with Original in the customer service department, working on a pro contract with them, hopefully soon.
What do you ride?
I really don’t have much of a favourite set up. I really dig the 66mm Abec 11 Freerides. Not really picky about the trucks, I get used to whatever really, however I am currently riding 44 degree Calibers. And for the board I will be rocking an Original, the Arbiter lately for freeride and downhill.
What do you do when you’re not skating?
Pick 3 numbers between 1-40.
1, 4 and 7.
1 – What do you take with you when you go for a skate?
Definitely my inhaler haha.
4 – Who is the best person you’ve seen skating?
Ahh this is such a hard one!! Hmmm I have so many favorites its real hard to pick one. Geez, Brett Ciabattini on the Original team, his skating is so fluid. Also watching Byron and Liam in the Dominican Republic was really awesome, they are so fast. But growing up and from watching YouTube videos it is James Kelly and Louis Pilloni were my favorites… like every other grom haha.
7 – What is your favourite meal?
I’m bad with favorites! But I can always go for some good fish tacos or anything with avocado.
Thanks a lot for your time and being real sis. Keep on being rad!
No, thank you for your time and interviewing me! Thanks for the good words as well.
Any thank yous?
Yes, thanks to my sponsors for providing me with product and helping me travel and skate; Original Skateboards, Abec 11, Socco, Holesom Pucks and Aussie Island Surf Shop!! Also big thanks to my family for being so supportive of my passion and dreams. Then, my friends who have guided me and given me support and advice; my Uncle Pat, John Pike, Kevin Murphy.