I first found Beatrice Domond through Bill Strobeck’s favorite list on his Youtube channel. He’d liked a video of hers called “Sorry Jahmal Williams for running into you at Vans and sorry for liberating the background noise” – a largely self-filmed montage of non-spot tricks, set to Gil Scot Heron’s beat poem “The Revolution Will Not be Televised.” The video has great feeling, reminding me of “Video days” and other clips that capture skateboarding as it actually is. I watched it from time to time for a year, all the while thinking that I should interview its maker. I finally got around to doing so last week.
Within minutes of our first conversation, Beatrice showed herself to be a singular person; singularly comfortable with her skating, her values, and her self. Despite my sad subtle attempts to have her fess up to victimhood, to talk about how hard it was to be a black, female, Christian-thinking skater – Beatrice insisted with dignity that she had always just “done her thing”, not letting her rare traits (rare for the skate world) restrain her. For these reasons and others, I believe she’s bound to leave a footprint in the world of skateboarding.
How’d you find skateboarding, growing up in small town Florida?
It’s sort of an awkward story actually. I was seven, and it was picture day in school. You can pick whatever you want to pose with in your picture – a football, a baseball – they give you options – whatever your hobby is. And there was a skateboard, so I just grabbed it. I just saw it and it attracted me. I didn’t even skateboard yet. When I came home, I asked my dad for a skateboard I progressed from there. I’ve always been in my own little world and I didn’t really meet people skating until I was 13 or 14 when they made a skatepark in my town. I mean, to this day I skate by myself.
But you are friends with Bill Strobeck right? How did that come about?
A while back, I finished watching Photosynthesis and I just thought, this dude is so awesome. I gotta meet him. This was back when I thought, oh you can meet anyone in skating. I sent him one of my videos and he said, “Oh, this is so sick. Keep it up.” That was all I needed. Throughout the years, I emailed him my Youtube videos whenever I’d finish one.
So yeah, a couple years later, he asked “Hey, what’s your information?” and said, “Dill wants to hook you up with some, you know, some Alien Workshop stuff.” So from then I started talking to Dill, who flowed me FA. Then Cherry came out. I filmed some stuff for it, and the no-comply impossible got in the video.
What was it like meeting Strobeck?
That was so surreal. He’s the sweetest guy ever. He got my mom a taxi, so she could go back to the hotel. Then we skated to Supreme. My face was so cold that I couldn’t feel it. He was like, “Yo, you know, your skin is getting so dry…” I was just like, “Ahh, this is so embarrassing.” We ran into Alex Olson on the way. I was just like, “What?” This is my life right now? We skated in between cars, and made it to the House of Vans. When I was skating at Vans I bumped into Jahmal Williams. Afterwards, I made that video and edited it to the Gil Scott Heron song that Jahmal Williams skated to. So that’s why it was named “Sorry Jahmal Williams for running into you at Vans and sorry for liberating the background noise.”
As someone who is religious, do you find the skateboard community hostile to religion?
Are they? I don’t know. I’ve never felt that the skate community was hostile to it.
Sometimes I’ve seen anti-religious graphics, and there was a thing in The Skateboard Mag a few years ago about skaters who didn’t want any religious influence in skating…
First of all, I’m not religious. I’m a follower of Christ.
What is the difference between those two things?
In religion, you don’t love certain people. In order for me to be in a certain religion, I’d have to exclude a certain group. That’s not what I do. I don’t exclude anyone or dislike anyone, to make that clear. I love all people. Christ loved all people. I hope this is coming across well. I don’t want it coming across weird.
What do you think about P-Rod praying into his hat? For example.
Am I like P-Rod? Like, do I pray in my hat? Ha ha. No, I don’t have any religious things like that. I don’t have any little rituals. I just think if you have faith in something, if you desire something… Skateboarding demands a lot of faith in one’s self. I have to have faith in myself in order to skate.
Were you popular in high school? I feel like you rarely meet skaters that are like, “Oh, I loved high-school.”
I’m mostly a shy reserved person until I really get to know you, and I wouldn’t say that I’m popular, but I was well-liked. Everyone thought the skateboarding thing was amazing. I’m just gonna be completely honest with you though: There were only 20 kids in my class. And I was the only black girl. And I was the only skateboarder. But I mean, I was super good at athletics and I did well in school.
Did you ever feel ostracized being one of the few black kids at your school?
Yeah people think that. But my mother raised me so well. I see color, but it’s just like… My mom always just use to tell me that I was great and I could do anything. So I mostly just see myself as a person, doing what I want to do. I didn’t realize it til later. One day I looked around and I was like, “Oh, oh my gosh. I literally didn’t know.” I see people of color – Caucasian, Spanish, all that other stuff. But it doesn’t affect me. They’re all people.
Yeah, I’ll skate around and notice people looking at me. I’m just like “What are you looking at?” Then I have to really re-group and be like, “Oh, you’re six feet tall, you’re a girl, you’re black, and you skateboard.” People think it’s interesting. There’s so many blonde kids and then you just see me and I stick out like a sore thumb. It’s an advantage in a way and I appreciate it.
You have released quite a few clips of you skateboarding on Youtube. Do have a filmer? Who’s filming you?
Like, literally, it’s my little brother or… my mom. That’s legit who is filming. Or me. Ha ha.
So your parents psyched on your skating?
Oh yeah. My dad has always been psyched on it. And my mom is just like my ultimate supporter. My mom always told me, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” She like follows everyone on Instagram. Anytime I post something she tags everyone. She’ll tag Street League sponsors. Like, what are you doing mom? She just says, “Oh, you never know.” Haha.
If you could have a dream session with three pros of any era and any spot, who would they be, and what would the spot be?
I would say Jeremy Wray, Quim Cardona, and Keenan Milton. They all have sick pop. Keenan has amazing switch. And we would skate the banks. I’ve never been there, but the footage looks amazing. I would get a line.
Are those your favorite skaters?
Well, those are the one’s I’d want to see in person. Jeremy Wray is one of my favorites. My other favorite is obviously Jason Dill, of course. And Ed Templeton in Welcome to Hell Era. The way he pops out of boardslides. Like, “How do you pop out of boardslides???” That’s sick! Toy Machine, Welcome to Hell, that’s skateboarding. You have everything. You have Elissa, then you have like, Donny Barley. You have Brian Anderson, like kinda sloppy, quick. It was like, if you could have an ultimate team, that would be it. Mike Maldonado too… powerhouse.
It seems like from your tumblr that there are some boys that have internet crushes on you. How do you deal with that?
I think it’s funny because I’ll never see those people. But I do appreciate it. I think most of them like my skating, which is really great. Some guys are like (negative tone), “Oh, girls skating…”, but others really appreciate it. One of the comments I got a long time ago was “I wanna skate like you.” A teenage boy said that. Like, “You wanna skate like a girl?” I have a teenage brother, and teenage boys are like a different species. So it was really an honor to have one say that to me. That means I’m almost like unifying skateboarding girls and guys. They like my skating, not just because I’m a girl but because I’m actually good at what I do.
Do you think that race plays into skate styles? I was talking with my friend the other day, and we were noticing there are like no black vert skaters.
I mean there’s a few. There’s Fernando Bransmark from Malmo, Sweden, there’s this dude Darin “Cookiehead” Jenkins. There are certain people of that color who don’t have access to a vert ramp, so they just take it to the streets. But a few people of color shred bowls and vert amazingly. Trust me though, when I was growing up, and I wanted to try vert – I looked all of this up. You need a little inspiration…
Growing up, did you tend to seek out girl skaters too?
I would look them up, same as the black guys who skate vert. It wasn’t really a search for them, but when you’re young you think everything matters. If you’re favorite skater is skating a 7.5, then you need a 7.5 with the exact gear, exact trucks, with the exact griptape, same shoes, same outfit so you can skate like him or her. As you grow up, you find yourself. You realize, “Oh I don’t need exactly what they have.” I do appreciate seeing girls and guys though, you know, Antwuan, Terry Kennedy, all of them. I do appreciate them.
”You can skateboard and be you. I think a lot of girls don’t get that.
They think, ‘Oh, I’ll have to be kinda guyish'”
How do you feel when you things like Thrasher King of The Road and you see them getting points for like making out with a Woman over 40?
That’s their thing. That’s cool. I wouldn’t want someone to stop me from putting Leonardo DiCaprio on a board, but… I don’t pay attention to it. As long as they’re not directing it towards me or viewing me in that way, that’s their thing. But these women should stand up for themselves. I do feel bad for some of the people they do that to. But some of the girls put themselves in that light.
Why do you think there aren’t that many girls that skate?
Either their parents won’t let them cause they’ll get hurt or they might think they can’t be girly with it. But that’s just a different area. I’m still a girly girl and all that stuff – but I just love to skateboard. I don’t think I have to act a certain way to be a skateboarder. You can skateboard and be you. I think a lot of girls don’t get that. They think “Oh, I’ll have to be kinda guyish” You really don’t have to be like that. You can be yourself and ride a skateboard. I still go on dates and meet guys. That’s me. I just like to kickflip over stuff. That’s it.