Josie Millard interview

24.07.2019 Exclusive, Interviews

Interview and photography: Kingsford

An extended version of Josie’s interview from Grey vol. 05 issue 02. Watch our new film, Josie Lori: Asleep in the Flowers, here. Check out some stills from the film below Josie’s interview.

We published an interview with you late 2017 in which you described finally figuring out what was wrong with your ankle after ten or more rolls that year. Did you get surgery in the end?
Yes, totally. I had the ligament reconstruction and the arthroscopy. Both were completely successful. The recovery time was shorter than I imagined and physio went very well.

How long were you unable to skate?
I believe it was three months. It felt like an awful lot longer than that because the niggling problem with the ankle had dragged on for so long.

And how did you find getting back into skating after the surgery?
I was really making an effort to try to get back on the board as quickly as possible and that was successful, but I felt the weakness in the ankle for a long time. To this day it’s not as it was before.

Are you confident?
I’m confident in my ankle 100 per cent. It’s just kickflips really. Kickflips used to be my favourite trick and now it takes a long time for that ankle to get warm enough to start doing them. But aside from that it’s grand.

So would you advise skateboarders to get things looked at properly? It’s common in skateboarding to ignore recurring injuries.
Yes, absolutely. I should have got this sorted long before I did. I think I missed out on quite a lot with that injury.

I guess it coincided with you becoming well known. It was a weird time for that to happen because suddenly you were in the limelight and you couldn’t really skate.
It did happen at the wrong time. I was getting invited on all these lovely trips with Nike and I was attending, but I felt I couldn’t really perform at my best. That was rather frustrating because these were opportunities I hadn’t had before and I couldn’t take full advantage.

But your sponsors have been understanding?
Yeah 100 per cent. They’ve been amazing and helped out with getting me the surgery and looking after me. It’s really cool to know that they support me through that stuff.

Your interests have diversified in the past couple of years: cycling, motorbikes, running, Crossfit, stair running. Are all these new interests a direct result of you not being able to skate properly due to your recent recurring ankle injury, surgery and rehabilitation?
Not entirely. My dad got me into sports when I was a kid. I also think becoming interested in other things is just part of growing older. But yes, having that time off skateboarding did allow me to explore some other things, gym and cycling mainly.

How do these activities compare to skateboarding? Are they more solitary?
It varies. I go motorbiking on my own, sometimes I go with my dad and sometimes I go with friends. It’s the same with all the sports I do. I can do them alone and really enjoy that, but it is also lovely to do them with other people. It’s the same with skateboarding. The feeling I get from these activities is the same feeling I get from skateboarding.

I guess one difference is the release of endorphins that happens with extreme exercise, and the euphoric feeling associated with that. You don’t often get that with skating.
There’s definitely that incredible physical sensation of endorphin release and feeling really good, but it’s also the progression and the learning that has me hooked. That obsession with progression and learning was why I became obsessed with skateboarding in the first place.

Probably the most extreme thing we’ve seen you do these past couple of days is stair running.
Running stairs is quite a well-known way that track runners train for fitness. Those stairs are actually kind of famous in Brighton among boxers and other athletes. I saw them on Instagram and thought: “This is going to be a cool way to push my running,” so I went and I tried it and I thought: “That was disgusting,” but in the best way possible.

Traditionally, skaters would be judgemental about people into Crossfit and vice versa. They represent different worldviews, surely.
The Crossfit community is actually very similar to skateboarding. You’re surrounded by people who are sharing the experience and sharing the love for it. When you’re out street skating with your friends and someone lands a trick and everyone’s stoked… it’s exactly the same in Crossfit.

How do all these activities affect your skateboarding?
Well I am definitely tired pretty often because everything I love doing is very physical, but the other stuff has helped because I’m not only thinking about skateboarding every second. I have these other things that keep me inspired and mix up my day a bit. Also my legs are stronger, which helps.

Do you skate less now that you have all these other interests?
Yes, but for me that is for the best. My outlook on skateboarding is so much more positive than it was when I was putting so much pressure on myself and skating all the time and thinking very negatively about it. I really enjoy it when I go now.

How much does fitness permeate your life?
Ok well I don’t drink at all. I did do a bit when I was in school, but I got over that very quickly. Obviously I enjoy socialising and being among other people but I just choose not to drink. That’s quite common among my CrossFit friends, a lot more common than in skateboarding, which is very party fuelled. They are polar opposites in that respect. In terms of food, 95 per cent of the time I eat pretty clean and well and healthy. That’s what makes my body feel really good. I function a whole lot better. But I think it’s important to treat yourself to nice things like chocolate and pizza sometimes.

Tell us about your relationship with your dad.
He and I share this extreme sport bug. He’s a rock climber and he was a really good runner when he was younger, a really good cyclist as well… We share those interests, so I end up hanging out with him an awful lot. He has also been extremely supportive with my skateboarding since the beginning. He would buy me skate shoes every month when I was super young because I’d get bloody holes all over them and he wasn’t too mad about that. He understood. As it became more serious and I had contact with various people, he started to help with emails and admin. He would draft everything for me.

So he had an understanding of how skateboarding could be a career for you?
Yes. He definitely saw that this was an opportunity for me to do what I really love. He saw that the most important part of my day was definitely to going off to the skatepark after school, not sitting down doing the work.

You’re also into urban exploration.
That all kicked when I was studying graphic design and photography and my dad and I were thinking of briefs for my projects. We were inspired by others online. We’d seen pictures of these amazing half-demolished and abandoned buildings and we really liked the aesthetic, so we decided to try it out and became hooked.

Have you found yourself in any dangerous situations?
Yes, a few. For the most part just coming across people who have unfortunately had to use these places as their homes… and drug-fuelled lunatics, which can be a bit creepy.

So you’re still living at home in Brighton and you seem to be enjoying it very much.
Yes, totally.

Do you have any plans to leave any time soon?
Not for the foreseeable future, no. I have the intention of maybe living in the States for a little while, six months maybe, because my mother is American, so I’ve got a US passport. But I just have such a great relationship with both my parents and Brighton is really amazing, especially in the summer time, so I don’t see a reason to move right now.

You did mention that there aren’t many street spots here.
Yes, totally. The downside is there are no street spots, but I’m not far from London.

I heard you aspire to be a stunt actor.
I suppose I see that as a potential option for my future because I’ve already got into a lot of things that are required for stunt acting: my obsession with motorbikes and fitness and skateboarding and all these things. The skill set can be applied to stunt acting. I just think it’s really cool. I’d love to do it.

Have you tried it yet?
No. It’s a longer-term goal. I know that to apply and get into that world there’s a whole bunch of things you have to tick off. You have to be a black belt in a martial art, for example.