How did you go from The Skateboarding Globetrotter to Broadway sensation?
I moved to NYC in 2012 from Los Angeles to continue my theatre career but quickly realized when I arrived that I wanted a break from the entertainment business. I spent the first few years skating but the performing bug was always itching so I developed a cabaret act that was skateboarding based called The Skateboarding Globetrotter, which was also a poke at my love of freestyle skateboarding. I performed that act around various small theatre venues in Manhattan and Brooklyn, produced a trilogy of Globetrotter skate parts, and loved developing it but the financial kickback for the large amount of time I put in wasn’t it after a while. A few months after I’d produced the third and last Globetrotter film, I was hired through my good homie Rob Rodrigues (owner of SURE Skateboards, Inc.) to help teach skateboard lessons to Broadway actors for The SpongeBob Musical, which was going to run in Chicago for the summer of 2016. I became really close friends with everyone on that job and during my downtime working I filmed a skate part that I dedicated to the show’s director. She was super hyped and encouraged me to be prepared to audition if ever asked once the show made it to Broadway. Without any promises, I dove into taking dance, singing, and acting classes while still skating non-stop for the next year. All I did was hone and perfect those skills for that entire year. Come summer of 2017 and the Broadway run for the show is announced, the creative team brought me into audition and after a series of callbacks – I booked it! The rest is skateboard history!
Was working on Broadway something you always wanted to do or did the opportunity come up and was just something you went for?
I’d dreamed of skateboarding on Broadway when I was younger but there wasn’t anybody pioneering that landscape so I never thought it was a possibility. Once the opportunity for SpongeBob Broadway seemed present, I totally dove in head first and prepared as much as I could before I was even invited to audition.
Describe what it was like getting the news that you got the job?
I was skateboarding by myself in Crown Heights, working on a little freestyle combo of rail to rail tricks. I was drenched in sweat and my agent called right as I landed what I’d been working on to tell me the news. I screamed, then skated back to my apartment and fell to the floor while crying/hugging my skateboard. It was too surreal.
All I did was hone and perfect those skills for that entire year.
How has your career/life changed since landing the gig?
I still have rent and bills to pay as everybody else but my career has definitely taken off as it has introduced me to more networking opportunities that I didn’t have before. I used my position recently to invite Tony Hawk and his wife to the show and they had a blast. He’s developing a skateboard Broadway show right now and I knew it’d be a perfect time to bring him in. This gig has also allowed me to have a voice for skateboarding in the Broadway industry where there isn’t a skate scene (besides SpongeBob).
What’s your schedule like with the show, do you still find time to skate outside work?
I perform eight shows a week and each show is two and a half hours of serious cardio so I take it very easy physically off-stage. I haven’t skated much outside of the show throughout most of the production’s Broadway run as my skating role is so demanding that I can’t chance getting hurt. However, I spent the last month and half filming a part completely inside of our theatre to promote my new board as I’d never seen another skater have that much access to such a unique place.
What is your relationship with the cast?
We are all incredibly close and love one another. It’s just like the skateboarding community in that we support and encourage each other to be creative and push boundaries while still keeping the integrity of what we’re doing intact.
I spent the last month and half filming a part completely inside of our theatre to promote my new board as I’d never seen another skater have that much access to such a unique place.
Any crazy showbiz stories?
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of the mega-hit Hamilton: An American Musical, came to see our production with his young son back in the springtime. He came backstage afterwards, pointed a finger at me and first thing he says is, “Skateboard guy! You were awesome!” He proceeds to admit they came only because his son saw a commercial clip of the skate scenes from our show and told his dad he wanted to go see ‘rock stars’. They loved the musical and had a great time. We continued to talk about skating, especially skateboarding in Puerto Rico (where his family’s from), while he also vocalized he was the skater in the family but that his son only had a scooter. Knowing how special of a moment it was, I ran to grab a new board I had set-up in my dressing room and gave it as a present to his son. They were both super stoked and his son was incredibly excited beyond words. Hopefully his son will grow up loving skating, follow in his dad’s footsteps, and develop his own skateboard musical. That’d be so sick! (Photo Below: Lin-Manuel Miranda with SpongeBob cast)
Do you find it surreal to be up on stage skateboarding and performing in front of audiences like that?
It was very surreal at the beginning and very intimidating but that phase quickly passed. It’s now second nature and I’m able to enjoy every second of it through each performance.
How different is it skating in that kind of environment?
Skateboarding on-stage in front of an audience of 1,600 people every night is tough. You have crazy lighting, a tight stage space, wig hair pins that may fall on stage and can easily cause wheel bite, audience member’s faces are sitting inches from the stage so no board can shoot off-stage, and you have to sell all of your energy in the performance through your skating. It’s a tough beast.
Have you ever missed a trick, and if so what do you do in that situation?
I’ve definitely had my handful of misses but when they happen I mold them into acting moments of rocking out to the Aerosmith song we perform. I’m a perfectionist so at times it’s been difficult to manage.
Best and worst things about being a Broadway star?
Best thing is that I still get to do what I love – skateboard – and that I have a family of awesome lifelong friends. The worst thing is having to push through your deepest moments of fatigue, stress, and anxiety that you’ll experience at times but regardless of how you feel the production must be performed in the way it’s DNA was constructed and you’re there to get the job done.
In what ways did skateboarding prepare you for working on such a large scale production?
Skateboarding provided me the dexterity and coordination to pick up dancing and movement. It also gave me the resilience to get back up and work through tough moments of doubt. But the best way is that it gave me the confidence that I would’ve never received through just performing.
How can other skaters looking to work on stage pursue such a path?
Develop your repertoire in a way that makes you stand out and sells you!
What’s on the horizon for you now?
I’m currently developing a one-man skateboard show!
Any shout outs or thank you’s?
Thank you to everyone that continues to make skateboarding a positive force to be reckoned with in our world. Also, special shout out to SHUT skates, SURE Skateboards, Inc., and NY Skateboarding for always supporting and encouraging me to be the freestyle unicorn that I am. Lastly, thank you skateboarding.