Stars of Sundance: Jaden Smith

Stars of Sundance: Jaden Smith

The actor had to delve in a world he never explored for his role in Sundance hit 'Skate Kitchen'.

The actor had to delve in a world he never explored for his role in Sundance hit 'Skate Kitchen'.

Photography: Sharif Hamza

Styling: Andrew Mukamal

Text: Devin Barrett

A version of this spread appears in the pages of V113, The Music Issue, on newsstands now. Order your copy of the issue today at shop.vmagazine.com

Skate Kitchen, the latest film by director Crystal Moselle of the critically acclaimed documentary The Wolfpack, celebrates the value of community and the quest for self-identity as it follows an all-female skate crew around New York City. It’s a stunningly realistic coming-of-age story. In fact, many cast members play versions of themselves, including Jaden Smith’s co-star Rachelle Vinberg, who Smith already knew from Instagram before joining the project. “My friend Harry showed her to me. I was like, ‘Yo, this girl is really cute and she skates. This is a real vibe. I should go skate with her.’ She’s mad cool, but I was scared because she skates hard,” he says. Unlike Vinberg, Smith doesn’t play himself, but that’s why he was attracted to the role. “Freedom really drew me to the project. To play someone who’s so far away from who I am: That’s what I look for in a role. I want to play roles where I have to speak a different language, change my identity, change the way I think about the world.”

Smith’s preparation for his character, Devon, involved immersing himself in NYC’s skate subculture: “I just hung out. I got to know everybody in the skate scene at the LES [Coleman] Skatepark, so that when it came down to shooting, it wasn’t weird. I was one of the kids.” He continues, “It’s a really reckless community. There are a lot of different sayings that go along with skating, like ‘skate destroy.’ It’s kind of like a middle finger to the man and the system. I’ve always been intrigued. To be able to be inside looking out, instead of outside looking in, was really fun. They also own New York City; they run the streets.” Being in Skate Kitchen shifted Smith’s perception of the Big Apple. “When I was young, I was really scared of New York. I couldn’t deal with it. After making this film, I really feel like I can go there. Broadway belongs to me. It’s my campus. There’s nothing more invigorating than just skating down the middle of the street with no cars. I realized, that’s the way to see New York.”

JADEN WEARS JUMPSUIT THOM BROWNE, T-SHIRT HIS OWN
Credits: Makeup Ciara O’Shea (LGA) Hair Rubi Jones (Julian Watson) Producer Ashley Herson Local producer Kate Holland Digital technician Casey Richardson Photo assistants Tim Hoffman, Shen Williams-Cohen Stylist assistant Jermaine Daley Hair assistant Megan Gorley Production Assistants Tom O’Meara, Rique Carroll Retouching Hempstead May Location Park City Peaks Hotel

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