Many of you probably shamefully remember our interview with Robert Brink a while ago because you scrambled for your phones and tried to call Erica Yary only to be severely disappointed (and fairly degraded). We thought it was important to catch up with Erica to discuss her extensive experiences of working in the industry, the lack of females in skateboarding and drinking on Weekend Buzz. Enjoy –
Interview by Stephen Cox
Can you tell us about where you’re from, what your life was like growing up, and how it all began?
I’m from Chino Hills. A city that everyone thinks is super I.E. – Riverside – but it’s a really pretty place, small town, cows and horses kind of place. I like it. I just moved to Costa Mesa to be closer to Stance. Life growing up was all soccer and then skateboarding came into my life in junior high and never left.
Was it through friends that your interest in skateboarding began then?
All my friends – all the boys – skated and I had to skateboard to hang out basically, so that’s how I got into skateboarding. Watching Toy Machine and Girl tapes with the guys solidified my future pretty early on. I started working at Active when I turned sixteen, just working retail, sweeping the floor and selling Arnette Catfish and Hurley graphic t-shirts by the dozen. That stuff was so hot around that time [laughs]. After high school, I went to college for a few years, but I started doing the kind of marketing I was going to school for, so I decided to take a leave from college to pursue the career I was already working towards. Within my nine years at Active, my job steadily progressed. From retail, to assisting the VP, to assistant marketing, to marketing management, P.R., events, team management – I learned so much at Active and started doing TV work with Fuel and ESPN while I was there as well.
How did your working experiences actually cross into skateboarding?
From being at Active for 9 years, I worked at Podium Distribution – DVS, Matix and Lakai – for a while which was a great time and I made quite a few friends there that are super talented and great people. Getting to see and work with Tim Gavin every day is a treat everyone should be able to experience in his or her lifetime. Now, I am with Stance where I couldn’t be happier. My official title at Stance is Marketing Manager. I am so lucky to be a part of a small team who love their jobs, love life, love the company they are at and are learning and progressing as people and professionals by the day. I think everyone at Stance feels the same way. Stance is really supportive of all of my freelance endeavors so working there is a perfect fit. Juggling all of my side work and my full time job is challenging and extremely busy, but so far it’s been a blast. I am more than happy and honored to be a part of the team of Stance sock slinger.
There must be some good stories from working with Tim Gavin -
Working with Gav entailed a lot of food – fried food [laughs], colonic stories, crazy diet fads, and A.D.D. He is amazing. We would be having a serious meeting and he would start using the perfect push-ups or ask for a sit-up challenge. Gav is also notorious for practicing his golf swing – with an invisible club – at any given time. He is amazing and pure comedy, I love that man. His sense of humor and creativity are in a league of their own.
- and how did the television work begin?
As far as the TV stuff goes, I started doing on-camera work when I was still at Active for FUELtv. I believe I was right around twenty years old when I started, maybe even nineteen. Even before I was doing online interviews, I was doing TV work and The Weekly Update hits almost every week for FUELtv. I hustled my way into that job as well, networking, meeting the right people, and persevering gave me a regular spot on the weekly show. From there I did X Games, online interviews, and now it’s a culmination of webcasts, broadcasts, live television, the weekly show with Brink and whatever else I get hired on to do for different brands and events; Dew Tour, Nike, The Berrics, Red Bull, ESPN… whoever!
Were you ever camera-shy?
I think I am still camera shy when it comes to photos being taken of me. On video, I am far more comfortable. I am straight up awkward during a photo shoot. It just isn’t me. I can’t pose and try to look hot, but when I am on film, it’s easy to be myself because I am comfortable with the person I am, far more than the way I look in a photo.
Are there any particular TV or media-heads that have influenced you or helped you become better at what you do?
I really look up to Sal Masekela because he is just a rad guy who comes from a similar background as me in action sports that has just made it happen for him. Sal has given me advice and pointers and I think that trial and error through the years has made me better on camera. Letting go of what you think people may say or think is the best thing to do. If the opinions of people who may be watching don’t matter to you, you’re gold.
How much creative freedom do you have in terms of your work?
I don’t have anyone telling me what to do, what to say, or how to be. So I do get to have creative freedom in that regard, but I also don’t dictate any of the stuff, aside from who I am interviewing at any given moment usually, I am involved in other than Weekend Buzz. I’d say that there are certain circumstances where it’s appropriate to “act” the part. In other words I act differently for a Street League ESPN live broadcast than I do for a Dew Tour twelve-hour streaming webcast or for Weekend Buzz. It’s all about the audience and whether or not editing is involved.
So how do you see your career progressing?
I see my career progressing in many ways with each passing month. Getting to do so much live event work has really made me better at hosting, public speaking – I also now have management; fulfilling the position is the amazing Circe Wallace at Wasserman. It’s cool that it’s come to the point, both with my marketing career and video work, that things are really busy and I am recognized as a professional in both of the realms of what I do. Where it’s going, only time will tell. More travel, more work, more learning, more progressing, more emails, more Instagrams [laughs]. It’s been a long road and I am a really happy gal right now and am excited to continue my growth both as a person and professional which I’ve found is the best thing for me to strive for.
What’s still to cross off the list?
Traveling the world thoroughly is a goal, making short films or a web series with my best friend Erik Bragg where I get to write and act and collaborate together with him, there are a ton of things, I just don’t feel like sharing all of them! [Laughs].
There is a clear distinction in terms of gender within the skateboarding industry. What is your perspective on this?
There’s a clear distinction in the industry for a lot of reasons, but the same reasons that are typical in any male dominated industry. I’m in a rare position, being in the “public eye” of skateboarding and not being a skateboarder, I’m well aware of that. But, I do believe I understand skateboarding and skateboarders and know how sensitive they are when it comes to women being in skateboarding. I’m never surprised when guys are mad that I am in the position I am in. But they don’t know me, know what I have done in the past within my twelve years working in skateboarding, no less being a skateboarding fan for well over fifteen years.
You perhaps have somewhat created a niche for yourself –
I do think I have a niche, but that is because of my decade worth of really great friendships and positive rapports with everyone. I’ve grown up with guys and have had male best friends, all skateboarders, for as long as I can remember. Growing up and being somewhat of a tomboy probably helps in the big picture of where I am today. Mike Carroll said it best, when he answered some questions on camera with me a while back, when he was asked advice on making it as a skateboarder, his response was, “Don’t be a kook.” The same thing goes for making it as a girl in skateboarding. This is a subject I could probably write an entire essay on, but it’s probably best left as is.
Do you think it is important for more girls and women to start working within the industry?
I back girls who want to work in skateboarding, absolutely. I’ve had so many sweet girls who have reached out to me through Facebook and email me asking questions about how I got to where I am now, and it’s a really cool thing to see and be able to inspire girls to want to work within skateboarding. I’ve made a conscious effort to try to be a good gal to look up to of sorts even though it’s hard to avoid a lot of the subjects that Weekend Buzz ends up talking about [laughs]. Like in anything in life, being into what you’re into for the right reasons makes all the difference in the world. If a girl is into skateboarding for hot dudes or something, obviously that isn’t going to go over very well and the respect level drops pretty juristically once those kind of things are made to be clear. It’s all about decision making, respecting yourself, being smart, and respecting skateboarding, its history and those around you.
What about the amount of girls and women who actually skate?
As far as whether or not I think more girls should skateboard, that would be huge if there were more female street skateboarders for sure. Having respect as a female street skater seems like one of the hardest things in the world. I love and admire Amy, Vanessa, Marissa, Elissa, Lacy – they are all inspirations to young girls out there who want to one day be recognized as a skateboarder. If it wasn’t for Elissa being on Toy Machine when I got into skateboarding back in the day, I don’t know that I would have had any females to look up to as a rad and gifted pro skateboarder. It would be nice for the girls now to have Elissa, and other up and comers be the new wave of inspiration for young girls. It would be great to see a girl have a full video part come out in a major skateboarding film like Elissa has.
Did you hear about the phone number prank Rob pulled on our readers?
Yes, I heard about Brink giving out my “number” [laughs].
Give us some dirt on Brink -
I don’t know what dirt I have on Brink that he doesn’t already embarrass himself with on the show on a weekly basis. He is the gayest straight guy I know. He is very comfortable with himself, that’s why he doesn’t care if he comes off as gay to our viewers. He is a good person and good friend. The only dirt I have on Rob is that if you write a reply to him – even if it’s a one sentence reply -challenging anything he says ever, he will send you eight paragraphs back. Now I don’t argue with anything or even have an opinion anymore as to not read a Brink novella reply [laughs].
Weekend Buzz – we obviously spoke to Rob about this but would love to get your perspective too. Can you tell us about your side of the preparation for an episode?
Working with Rob on Weekend Buzz is a really great partnership. I book about ninety-five per cent of the guests and send out dozens of texts and make lots of phone calls to ensure these guys actually show up. Brink digs up all the dirt and skate nerd stuff because he is a skate historian in his own right. I have a lot of personal experiences with the guests, so any stories I come with are just from years of knowing the guys or by texting or emailing their friends to get the scoop on anything we should bring up as well. I help Rob when I can with gathering information, but he does the brunt of the research and I love him for it.
Must be hard to pick a favorite episode -
I have so many favorite episodes because I like all of the guests we have had on a lot, to choose one is way too difficult because I have laughed so hard and had so much fun on a weekly basis with these guys who come on the show. I was really excited to have Louie Barletta on the show, he is so funny and I am a huge fan of his. I think my favorite episode will be when I finally get Staba and Brian Anderson on the show together. Fingers crossed that scheduling will one day work for that. When I introduce the show to a friend or someone who has never seen the show, I typically show them Neen’s episode, or Austyn’s or David Gonzalez’s. I think those are three good examples of the show and what sort of stuff we talk about and the fun we have.
Who has got the most drunk so far?
The drunkest guest was by far Jake Duncombe! He took down a full bottle of Jäger solo, and probably five beers in an hour and some change. Australians party harder than anyone.
- and you guys are careful not to get drunk yourselves? Do you think it would be interesting to have you and Brink get hammered and see how the pans out with the camera rolling?
I am personally careful to not get drunk on the show. I don’t get sloppy if I drink a bunch anyway, but I don’t want to regret something I may say that is vulgar or crazy because I become a sailor when I drink. I never cuss on camera. I try to keep it pretty PG since the Internet will not just erase the things I’ve put out there someday. I’m trying to be a positive influence, not a “what not to be when you grow up” kind of gal. If Brink and I were to get hammered with the cameras rolling you can bet that I will just burn him for everything he says. I think I burn Brink on an average of three to four times an episode that we film for things he says. It’s all friendly, and most of it doesn’t make the cut, but it’s just the way we are together. Brink is like a brother, or a gay best friend to me!
Can you tell us about any surreal experiences skating or otherwise you have had from working at the X Games, Berrics or Street League?
My surreal experiences lie within being able to travel the world with people who I really do love and care for a whole lot. Being in Copenhagen for CPH Pro the last three years has been such an amazing experience. Riding bikes around Copenhagen, shooting photos, eating great food, watching next level skateboarding, partying until the wee hours of the morning (the sun stays up hours past Midnight), getting to see Tom Penny. And Street League is like a traveling band. It’s the best crew that all gets along really well. Everyone from the Judges and Team Managers to the skaters are all so positive and great to be around as we travel together monthly. I’m so lucky to be a part of Street League and it’s all thanks to Rob Dyrdek for acknowledging that I am a girl who has worked super hard in the industry. For Rob to hire someone who comes from skateboarding, rather than a hot chick who is random to skate who comes from a hosting background of some sort, is a testament to how Rob views Street League and how authentic he wants it to be. Rob Dyrdek is the best.
Which do you prefer?
As far as what I prefer, I’d say I prefer any and all people, production groups, TV shows, video segments that want to hire me. They are all different and I am thankful and appreciative for any and all opportunities that I have been given.
How do respond to criticism of such contest events and negativity within the industry?
The way I respond to negativity is to not acknowledge it unless it’s completely necessary. Everyone is a critic, myself included. People are mad over whatever their agenda is at the moment and there isn’t anything you can do to change the way people feel about things other than hope that they will, in time, see more than one side of the situation. People say all sorts of crazy crap about me, but until they meet me and see that we would probably get along and be friends, they will continue to think whatever they want of me. The same goes for people who maybe hate Street League. Skateboarders are passionate people, so it’s no surprise that they possibly hate things like X Games or Street League. It’s impossible to win everyone over in an entire community especially within this one and I guess we can just leave it at that.
Can we finish up with you telling us about your work with Keep A breast?
It’s really cool that I am able to be included in something that is so much bigger than any one person. I have a lot of great and dear friends that work at Keep A Breast, and Kayla Kelley who works there recruited me to be involved with them and their cause, which is about knowledge and prevention. I have learned so much about breast cancer and the causes surrounding it that it is a really humbling and amazing thing that I get to be a part of a team that wants to educate and inform the public of what they may not be aware of. Keep A Breast and all of the people there are fantastic.
Thanks for the interview Erica -
Thanks for asking me to do the interview and thanks to all of the people who have supported, hired, and re-hired me throughout the years, I am grateful for all of my experiences
Follow Erica on Twitter: @EricaYary
Visit Erica’s website: www.ericayary.com
Follow Stephen Cox on Twitter: @stephen_coxy