jaden smith has the best story about joining 'skate kitchen'

The actor reveals why he got involved with Crystal Moselle's new movie about an all-girl NYC skate crew.

by Brittany Natale
10 August 2018, 3:55pm

Jaden Smith has been busy creating, and he wants you to create, too. The multi-hyphenate has starred in multiple movies, recently released his new record, SYRE: The Electric Album via Instagram, and will soon join J. Cole and Young Thug on their “KOD” tour. He also has his own creative collective, called MSFTSrep, and has founded the eco-friendly water company, JUST WATER. Whether he is bettering the world with his business ideas, sharing his philosophies on life, or showing up to the Met Gala carrying his own dreadlocks, Smith is constantly defying expectations.

One of Smith’s current projects is the film Skate Kitchen, directed by Crystal Moselle of The Wolfpack. The film is named after a real all-girl skate crew Moselle met in New York City while riding the G train, and soon after recruited to star in a short film, “That One Day,” for Miu Miu’s Women Tales series. Skate Kitchen the movie tells the fictionalized story of Camille (played by Rachelle Vinberg), a young introverted skateboarder, and her journey of self-discovery after befriending the girls. The central characters are all part of Skate Kitchen in real life, with the notable exception of Smith, who appears as the mysterious Devon — photographer, skateboarder, and love interest of Camille. But the movie wasn’t the first time he had encountered Vinberg.

i-D recently caught up with Smith to talk skating, crying, and the importance of creation.

How did you become involved with Skate Kitchen?
I first found out about Rachelle through my friend Harry Hudson, who pointed her out to me. He would skate with me in New York and he knows that I love skating, so he was like, “You should skate with her.” I never did skate with her because she clearly [skates] so much better than me, you know? But that was my first time hearing about Rachelle. Then Crystal [Moselle] came to the office and started talking to me — I knew about Crystal as well because of her movie The Wolfpack. So she was telling me about this whole idea about a skate crew in New York, and I was like, “Wait, I think I know who you are talking about.” And she said, “Yeah, her name is Rachelle,” and I did know who she was talking about. So I was like, “I’m down, let’s go.”

In your own words, how would you describe your character Devon?
I would describe my character as kind of a more closed-off, introverted, New York teenage skater artist.

How has this project been different from some of your other films?
You know it is a lot different, but at the same time it is still a movie. There is still a script, there is still a character that you are playing. But it was fun because I really got to make a movie in New York and skate around. I would say that this is my first young adult role, where there is cursing, and, you know, just more mature things happening in this film that young adults are doing right now, specifically in skate culture.

Skate Kitchen does a great job of capturing some of the experiences that are tied into growing up and learning more about yourself along the way. Do you have any advice for people who are looking to really find their place, or discover more about themselves?
Yeah, for anybody trying to find ways to discover more about themselves I would just tell those people to create. Make art, make awesome things — just create, because that will really show you different sides of yourself.

A lot of people may be afraid to get into something because of fear of the unknown. What has it been like opening yourself up to so many different projects across art, music, and film?
I feel like when you open yourself up to possibilities you give people an opportunity to really get to know you and then rock with you. If you really open up to the world you are giving the world an opportunity to know you better. And for me personally that is what I want to do, and I want people to just kind of understand where everyone else is coming from.

Okay I have to ask you this, I read in a past interview that you are very in tune with your emotions — that you cry sometimes once a day, and I can relate. Do you think your emotional depth influences the work you do?
It definitely does influence the work that I do because as an actor sometimes you have to cry, I think. Well, you don’t ever have to cry, but sometimes you have to get emotional, whatever that means for your character. And I feel it definitely helps me with my music because I can just choose from so many different emotions that other people might not be able to get tabs on, or they just might not care about. So for me when I can [do that], you know, [listeners feel] like, ‘Well, if I did care or if I wanted to care I can always listen to this person who really does.’ Or if they already do care and they want to feel like somebody relates to them they can listen [to my music], too.

Do you think emotion also plays a part in creating visuals for your performances and music videos?
Yeah, definitely. I feel like those visuals of me are really me telling a story to the audience about myself and kind of how I look at my life, and how I feel about my emotions. Kind of me just trying to portray a story to them.

Anything else you would like to mention?
I just want to say that musically right now I am going through a lot of growth — in everything I am going through a lot of growth, even with fashion. And I’m ready — that’s it.

Jaden Smith
skate kitchen