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Skateboarding is hard, and the struggles skateboarders have faced to get where they are today are what make any interview interesting. Lizzie Armanto turned pro last year. She has her own video game character in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. What struggles could she’ve faced? What would seem like the most obvious one - being a female skateboarder in a male dominated industry - was a question we really tried to avoid, largely because it doesn’t seem to faze her. Within a few seconds of watching her skate, it is abundantly clear that she is just like any other skateboarder. She has the same love/hate relationship with skateboarding we all do - that need to land new tricks even if it means slamming repeatedly to do so. So we asked her the best questions we could come up with to try and understand how she got so damn good.

What’s up Lizzie! How long have you been skating and what have you been up to?Hey! I’ve been shooting out in New York. We had a shoot for the past two days, and I’m leaving later on this evening.

Skating’s hard and not for everyone. What kept you skating?In the beginning, I started off with my brother, and I was competitive - I think that was the initial thing. It was just like a competition. After a bit and a few times of going to my home park, I remember seeing someone in the flow bowl and they made it look so easy. I remember looking at them, and thinking I can do that - they were just really good and made it look easy. Something kind of clicked there. From that point on, I was like I’m going to do this. But at the same time, I could barely push on flatground, so it totally didn’t make sense.

So did that become the goal? To make it all look effortless?It was more like I was having fun doing it with my brother, and it was one of the few things I was allowed to do that wasn’t being at home doing chores, or homework, or going to the library. I was like, oh I can go to the skatepark! And then I saw this person, and they made it look really easy, and something in my brain clicked. When you see someone who’s really good at what they do, it’s like you understand.

Were there ever any really bad slams, and you were like screw this, I’m over it?I used to get all beaten up, and I’d eat shit a lot - especially in the beginning because I didn’t know what I was doing. It was just trial and error and I remember I would get hurt and hide it from my mom because she’d be like, “Oh my god that’s ugly.” And I knew it’d ruin me when I’d hear say things like that, so I hid it. But at the same time, I knew getting hurt was part of it. You had to learn how to fall, and I think that was a big key. But that doesn’t stop you from falling. I am always falling.

What skaters did you look up growing up? I looked up to the people that were around me when I was skating the Cove a lot. It was one of the few parks in the area, people from all over would go skate there - it was a scene. I remember I used to love skating with Pat Ngoho. A bunch of people would come through. I didn’t really follow skateboarding like through magazines or videos. The Cove is where I got everything for skating. My mom wouldn’t buy me magazines - I didn’t even know about skate magazines until later. And as far as going online and looking up stuff on the Internet, I was just into playing video games.

What was… your first skate video, first board, and first pair of skate shoes?I don’t know the first video I saw, but I know the first video I bought was Pretty Sweet. Which isn’t even that old.

My first board from Toys R Us, it was a Ninja Turtles Board. But my first real board - like a real skateboard - that one was an Element.

I don’t know if I remember my exact first pair, but I want to say they were Converse.

Converse, huh? Which shoe felt most comfortable growing up?I used to skate the High Top Converse because it was like nothing. It was like I was wearing moccasins. And even to this day, the Vans that I wear are the High Top Vans. I don’t know, they’re just like ready to go when you put them on. You don’t really need to break them in.

Did you ever get CCS catalogs growing up?I don’t think so. I moved around a lot.

If you weren’t skating, what would you be doing with your life?I'd probably be like graduating college around now. I’m not even sure what for. I’d probably like just force myself to take something.

What classes did you like in high school. If you had to guess, what would’ve you taken in college?I liked auto shop. I was considering going to mechanics school. I was like, yeah I could do that. That’d be fun. Thinking of it in the sense it’d be cool to know how to work on a car, but then I thought about it and was like I don’t want my job to be a mechanic. So I rethought that, and started going to SMC for a bit getting my general ed. I took Japanese in high school and a few courses in college. But that’s just because I like Japanese culture. It’s not something I wanted to make my career.

Growing up in Santa Monica sounds pretty idyllic. Did anything suck about growing up in Southern California?At the time, I didn’t think so. But now that I’ve traveled and seen other places, I see the experiences my friends have had growing up in places that are not a city seems really cool to grow up in a place where you can just go down the street and hang out with neighborhood kids.

So growing up you didn’t have that experience? Growing up in Santa Monica and other places in LA I never grew up with the same group of friends. I wasn’t allowed to go walk down the street to go get candy or anything.

The Cove was your home park, right? How much influence do you think that park had on you growing up and how you skate today?The Cove has a lot of transition, so naturally I gravitated towards transitional skating.

Do you think if you had grown up skating street you’d still be skating today? If I had a group of buddies that’d I did that with, I’m sure I would be, but it’s kind of hard to imagine that panning out.

Was there a point in your skating growing up when you realized that you might be able to do this as a career?When I first started skating, it was just fun. And as I progressed and maybe got a sponsor or two, I was like oh this is sick. It was always a thought, like oh yeah it’d be cool to be a pro skateboarder, but at the same time it was hard to see that light at the end of the tunnel because there wasn’t really anyone else doing that and being successful at it.

You skated a lot of contests growing up though, right?Yeah, I skated contests, but I knew that it wasn’t a long term standing kind of thing - like I was going to make a living off of that. In 2014, I got hurt, and that’s when I realized how much I cared about it. That’s when I really tried to pursue it because it was like this is the time. If I don’t do it now, it’s never going to happen. When I think about the time, I think I was asking for help. I don’t know - I guess I just had the support from the right people to help me get to where I wanted to go.

Did getting hurt make you more of a cautious skater?I’ve always been a cautious skater, but at the same time after getting hurt, it just lights a fire. You have to catch up now - since you haven’t been skating.

The video of you being surprised with your first cover and pro board was pretty rad. Did the experience of going pro live up to any expectations you may have had? I did have the expectation that there was going to be a Boba Truck there. Like, there’s going to be Boba there, and there was, so that definitely lived up to my expectation. It was amazing having the team there. It was crazy seeing who showed up. Because if I think about it from when I first started, to have the support of my peers, and the team, and Tony - I wish I could say everyone’s name. To have all these people that I slowly met along the way, I think so highly of be there was a very gratifying feeling. I don’t know, it’s cool to see that people care.

Did you say Boba truck? Yeah, like there was a Boba cart there, which is funny because I remember telling Tony that my friends make Boba, and I really want them to be there. But, it wasn’t them because they didn’t know who it was, and it’s not like they could just ask and like try to figure that out. But they did get a Boba cart there. They went the extra mile to do that.

What was it like to be in a video game?It’s weird. It’s kind of like one of those things you never expect to happen, and then it does. I don’t really play Playstation, Xbox, or Wii video games really, so it’s funny that all these miscellaneous people hit me up saying like “oh my god, I love playing your character.” It’s so strange, but it’s cool. I was surprised how much shooting was involved to make the character. They have to take pictures of you from every angle and scan your body type. It took like two to three hours at the studio. Getting flashed a couple hundred times - by the time I left there, I felt insane. It was way more challenging than I thought it’d be.

Do you feel any kind of pressure to be a role model for young girls?I do. But then, before I get ahead of myself, I think of myself and see the possibility, which is something my friend told me - and I don’t know if she made this term up or not - but it’s “being the person that inspires you to do what you want to do.” Like to be the person I follow after. Does that make sense?

Yeah, you’re just trying to be your best self, and hoping that’s a good inspiration for kids? Yeah, I just think you should be a good person. Like, as long as you’re being true to yourself, then it should be all good.

How do you feel when people have different standards for men and women? For instance, when someone says that someone is “good for a girl”?I mean, if you break it down, I think it is a lame statement. It’s just lame when you say that, but usually it’s just the person not realizing they're giving you a backhanded compliment. It’s not like they’re trying to put you down. I can see what they’re trying to do.

It seems like it’d be a lot to deal with - being part of a small group of female skaters in an industry dominated by men. Do you feel the need to keep up or set boundaries or anything?Setting boundaries is really important. I don’t know about keeping up. I mean, everyone goes at their own pace. But boundaries are important no matter what you do.

What advantages do women have in skateboarding?Women are more flexible. I’m not sure how that necessarily helps in skating, but I’m sure it does. I mean if you use it to empower you, there’s huge advantages in that. But no one’s going to skate how you skate. Like it’s not about what you do, it’s about how you do it.

What life lessons have you learned as a result of skating and travelling?A ton of them - it’s like the school of skateboarding. There’s so many lessons to be learned. One of the most basic things you learn is when you fall, you get back up, and you can apply that to anything and anywhere.

Anything you want to add?No. I think that’s solid.

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