It’s hard for me to explain Briana King, and if you’ve met her you know what I mean. She’s this ball of radiating energy. She’s magnetic, silly, authentic, and beautiful inside and out. The second you see her you know she’s special. She’s got the spark.
I met her three years ago when I first started Ziran, and she was one of the first models I worked with. I remember Briana telling us she was passionate about skateboarding: that was what she loved. Since then I’ve watched her meteoric rise to become a leader and role model, specifically via starting an inclusive community for girl and queer skaters. Her meetups have grown from Los Angeles to New York, Seattle, Atlanta, Paris, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco…. Her vision and work has snowballed and undoubtedly will continue to grow. She’s a legend in the making.
We hung out with Briana at a recent meetup in Los Angeles, and watched her encourage, teach, and hang with other skaters. It was cool to see firsthand the impact she’s had on these young women, and the different range of people Briana attracts. These skaters look up to Briana and she is leading them by being herself. She’s welcoming, expressive, and weird, basically signaling to everyone else that it’s ok to be different. This is why Briana is a forever Ziran muse.
We love you Briana!
What has skateboarding taught you about yourself? About the world?
Before I was passionate about skateboarding it was music. Whenever I was upset or sad I would go to a few songs and play them over and over again. I only had that one thing I would go to, to make me happy again and that’s all I thought I could ever have. Skateboarding showed me there was something else I could go to.
Skateboarding showed me I was in control of what I was feeling so I no longer needed an object to make me feel better. I just needed myself. It taught me how powerful I am, and in control of my feelings and others’ feelings around me.
Skateboarding makes me feel like there’s hope. There’s a few people who always hated on what I was doing. Now they are at the meet ups supporting me and everyone else, and are just so lovely. It’s a full 360: never would I picture in a million years these specific people would show up to my events and be so supportive and loving. There’s hope in this world. There’s just so much hope in skateboarding.
My energy just comes out of nowhere. I remember this specific moment after one of my meetups, I had that euphoric feeling. This is what fucking rappers feel like after a show. I would hang out with a lot of rappers who are sober and after they performed they would just be so fucking crazy. I wanted to feel that feeling. They are completely 100% sober, yet so fucking hype. I get the same energy. This is my motha fucking show but like way more intimate, way more loving, way more personal. It’s like I can’t believe that this is something I created.
That energy is there. I get it from everyone around me, they give it to me. I feed off of it and it’s amazing.
Where do you see yourself personally and professionally in 10 years?
I see myself more comfortable with myself and more organized. I’m still going to be doing the same shit I’m doing but on a bigger scale.
A lot of people can start their own meetups. I can have my own official “stamped” Briana King skateboard meetup. It would be a fucking dream to be able to tour with Afropunk because they tie in to skateboarding sometimes. It would be rad if I could go around the world with Afropunk and be like, “Yo we get the sish. I’m here.”
But yeah I want to do the same shit forever and ever and ever. And make the biggest nontraditional gang of skateboarders and take over the world and support all brand new skateboarders.
There’s this one lady Mimi [Knoop], she’s the lady who fought for equal pay in skateboarding. She used to have this skateboarding brand called Hoopla and it was an amateur skateboarding brand. She supported all the legendary female skateboarders. She was there making sure they were looking fresh and had all the boards so they could perform their best in skateboarding. I would love to be that person. Making sure that everyone has everything they need to be the fucking best.
I be like, “Yo, I helped that bitch on the mothafucking come up! Yeah.”
What's a common misconception people have about you?
I have no clue. Lately people just fuck with what I’m doing. They know it’s real. They can feel the love. In the beginning it was like, “This is just all fake, she’s doing it for the clout and doing this for Instagram, so she can get more jobs.”
But I don’t know, I never hear anything else besides what I say about myself. People are happy to repeat and talk about me the way I would talk about myself. So it’s lit.
What is your personal style? How do you feel most comfortable?
I feel the most comfortable when I’m the most flyyyy. When I’m green. Everything needs to be baggy but sexy. I always need my waist to show a little bit. But I don’t want anything else showing. I don’t want the booty showing, or anything else. I don’t got no boobs to show. But even if I did, I wouldn’t be showing the boobies.
But like baggy, swaggy, sexy. That’s it.
What are you inspired by right now?
I’m inspired by my own brain right now! It’s telling yourself you need to fucking chill. I was going too hard for way too long, I wasn’t in control of my own body. Keep going keep going keep going.
I sat down yesterday and thought, "Ok these are the things I need to do to be the most organized and the most happy." I don’t need to be working all the time. It feels good to be able to sit down and tell yourself like, “Bitch chill.” I’m inspired by myself.
I’m always inspired by New York. I know I don’t have the most amount of work when I go to New York but I know it always puts me back into a good mindset. So yeah New York always brings me back to the beginning, this is where everything started. Beautiful New York, crazy New York, artsy New York. New York is Briana, this is where I feel myself.
You are a forever Ziran muse and I think you embody the meaning of Ziran. Ziran means natural, spontaneous, and free. It advocates pushing away outside influence and embracing your own authenticity. Thoughts on this? How are you “Ziran”?
It took me so long to feel like it was ok to be authentically me, but this is the most important thing in life. If you don’t fuck with yourself, it’s always in the back of your head and you really can’t move forward with friendships, or love, or life, or what you want to do next in your brains if you aren’t authentically you. Or if you’re not being natural, those are all fucking the same things.
There’s that one feeling you have in the back of your brain when you’re not being authentic, it’s in front of that thought. It should be like, “Bitch be authentic, we gon roll. We gon be happy. Yeah that’s Ziran. Yeah, get it.”
Keep up with Briana: @brianaking
Words: Kelly Wang Shanahan @theziran
Photography: CrystalLee Farris @crystallee_farris