Part of what makes Briana King built different is that she’s creating spaces for others to find their own version of peace. The skateboarder, model, activist, and community organizer has created a platform for herself by virtue of her unapologetic way of moving through the world and opening up opportunities unique to her point of view and experience. The StockX audience is already familiar with King, who is an official ambassador, so each conversation we have with her can go deeper and explore even richer aspects of her experience and points of view.
In our latest conversation with King, this time to welcome her into our Built Different campaign – a series and a message that celebrates the defiance and versatility of women in current culture – she walked us through her vision of how to make better, stronger spaces for women, what it means to create truly inclusive community, and the best advice she’s ever gotten.
StockX Associate Creative Director, Cheyanne Luna: What does Built Different mean to you?
Being Built Different – I’m built different.
I feel strong. I feel powerful, and I feel good. And I’m just grateful to be here right now, honestly. All y’all built different, and I’m happy to be in the room with everyone here, honestly.
How did the women you looked up to make a difference in your world?
The women that I look up to are very powerful women. They made a difference by letting me know that I could be as powerful as them.
Thinking back on your career thus far, what are some of the most memorable moments?
One of the most memorable moments was in Williamsburg. Angela Davis was there, and she was speaking about herself and was hyping herself up. It was amazing to see a black woman so inspired by her own being. I was like, “All right, I’m going to love myself as much as this person loves herself.” And it honestly changed my life.
She would always say, “The way that I do one thing is the way I’m going to do everything.” And I just really made sure to take that to heart and love everyone as much as I love skateboarding or love myself as much as I love skateboarding and everything else that I do in my life. But that was a really powerful moment for me.
How can community, and creating community, continue to help women break boundaries?
As a community, I think a great way to break barriers is for men to be more involved. There are a lot of women-based events where women are helping other women, and I need that forever, but having men come and teach us or show us different types of things would probably break down a lot of stereotypes that we have for men. A lot of us are uncomfortable being around men. It would be nice to have a different type of environment with men.
Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by everyone on the street, honestly. One of my favorite things is skating and seeing everyone around me. But it’s so hard to say who I’m inspired by because it’s just everyone around me. I see the way someone has a pep in their walk, and it just inspires me to be happier, or the way someone’s crying about something, and it allows me to feel so many emotions. So it’s just everyone around me and allowing me to feel everything that’s happening around me all the time.
What’s some advice that you’ve always carried with you?
Lately, there’s just so much advice that I’ve gotten from so many powerful women that have been in my life. It’s so hard only to pinpoint one thing. But something really important to me right now is: Take care of yourself first. Being somebody so into their community, I was giving out to everybody all the time, and I would forget about myself. Now that I take care of myself a lot more, it’s easier for me to put out more.
What would you tell your 12-year-old self about where you are today?
I would tell my 12-year-old self to do the things that I fear. I would always navigate myself around life and be okay with what I was doing every day because I was doing it the best I could. But I also need to do the things that I fear the best that I can.
What do you hope the younger generation of women learns from you?
I hope the younger generation of women learns from me to do things that make them happy. We always think that we’re doing things that make us happy, but I feel like I truly show people the small things that make me happy.
Can you describe the importance of showing up and championing other women?
Being there for other women is just so important. I have Daphne, and she’s always there for me, and we just build a giant spider web. We build a giant spider web of amazingness. It’s just being a woman, you have a special connection, and it’s kind of hard to explain. It’s just a feeling that I don’t have the words for right now, but it’s important to be there for each other.
What does women’s skateboarding look like 10 years from now?
Skateboarding in 10 years? Dommy women. Period.
The importance of inclusion is everything. I’d always tried to get into skateboarding, and nobody looked like me, or people were making fun of me because I looked different. And the moment that I saw a group of Black girls, I felt like I could finally go up to them. So not only did I feel a lot more comfortable going up to people, but they were just so welcoming to have someone else that looked like them too. So everyone is just so excited to have somebody that looks like them or even just somebody that is also uncomfortable.
Can you tell us more about your meetups and how you’ve been bringing people together around skateboarding?
My meetups are basically for everybody that is super uncomfortable. I make an effort to always write, “If you are nervous, if you are anxious, if you are scared of humans, this is the best place to be at because all of my friends, I’ve curated a very lovely circle of the friendliest people.” People are like, “Oh, everyone’s nice here.” But my friends are friendly. They will reach out to people and make sure that they’re comfortable. That’s what my meetups are like. It doesn’t even matter that it’s skateboarding. I feel like I would’ve ended up doing this anyway. It’s just a place for everyone to feel safe, comfortable, and make friendships.
And we know that a big part of that for you is making space for the LGBTQ community.
I’m a part of a skateboarding team called There Skateboards. Jeffrey Cheung, an amazing artist, holds events for trans skateboarders and queer skateboarders. I was definitely inspired by Jeffrey. There were a lot of amazing skateboarders that did not skateboard anymore because they are gay or trans, and it was just so inspiring to see what a simple meetup and a simple flyer could do to get people out of their houses, get them out of their depression or their anxieties. It’s important because there are not many people that are comfortable with being trans or being queer or just being different. And we’re all just so odd, and it’s just a place for all of us to be odd.
What are some frustrations that you face in your career?
Some frustrations have been people not taking me seriously because I’m a skateboarder. I’ve always been working in this industry, and when I turned into a skateboarder, people started taking me less seriously. It was just like, “I’m still the same exact human. Why would you treat me differently? Because I have a skateboard?”
When’s a time when you felt underestimated?
Every day. I feel underestimated every day. It doesn’t matter where I’m at – maybe that’s just myself and how I feel internally sometimes, but I don’t know. I have to think about that one, honestly.
I feel underestimated in spaces that are not skateboarding. I feel like a lot of people are a lot more judgmental. And when I’m in a space with my skateboarding friends, nobody’s thinking about what type of person this is, and everyone’s just focusing on being happy and their own feelings.
What’s the most empowering thing about being a woman?
The most empowering thing about being a woman is holding power to inspire other women around me. Being a woman at this time in the world right now is really special. It’s just so great to be a being with so many emotions and open to feeling so many emotions. I don’t know. Men are just different, and women are built different, honestly.
What do you want women to know the most about you?
That I worked really hard to get where I’m at right now, it was really hard. It’s just really hard to be this happy or really hard to be this motivated and that it’s possible to come from the dumps to right here.
What makes women so powerful?
We’re sexy. Honestly, sometimes in my body at this point, it’s so… Okay, now I’m just talking to you like I’m talking to you, but I’m also just going through a moment where I feel non-binary. So, in my body, I just feel a flush of emotions. So the best part of being a woman is maybe only being a woman, and you feel these feelings, I don’t know. But I really can’t answer that question because I’m going through a moment right now of just being a woman, you know?
How can we keep making an impact?
Making an impact is just paying attention to community, and we could all teach each other so much – whether it comes to new skills, emotions, love, or hardship. We all need just to make sure to talk to the people around us. We are social beings. Please teach everyone around you what you know, small or big.