Micro Going Macro: How Sydney Blaylock Roller Skated to the Top
Sydney Blaylock is one of 15 up-and-coming Instagram influencers selected for nofilter's 2021 Micro Going Macro list. See all 15 picks here.
WHO Sydney Blaylock
WHAT Skating and slaying
Roller skating probably isn’t the first thing you associate with aesthetics or influencer niches. The roller rink often feels like a novel concept: It had a moment in the early 2000s, when ATL and Roll Bounce hit theatres, and has since popped up occasionally in big-budget music videos like Beyoncé’s “Blow.” But while it may feel like nothing more than a film set for some, for Black folks, it’s filled with nostalgia and culture. I still remember those Saturdays: the smell of nachos, feet, and musty carpet coupled with the adrenaline that coursed through my body as soon as I stepped foot on the rink. For me it was fear of falling on my ass in front of my neighborhood crush. For Sydney Blaylock, it was in preparation for a performance of skill and creativity.
Blaylock is a Brooklyn-based skater and Chicago native (full disclosure: we went to the same high school) who doubled her following after a compilation video of her doing tricks on eight wheels went viral. She is one of several skilled Black skaters using social media to help to put skating, and its importance to Black communities, back on the map. Take one look at her feed and you’ll see what sets her apart: She is both mover and muse, tastefully rocking her signature short fade haircut and, often, lingerie.
We talked below about how she got her start, what it felt like to go viral, and why Black women make the best followers.
Tell me how you got started.
I’ve been skating my whole life. I’m a JB skater, which is a style straight out of Chicago. JB stands for James Brown. I’ve been doing that since I was four. I went to Spelman in Atlanta then I decided I wanted to move to New York right after college and work in the fashion industry. Over the past three years, I’ve transitioned into the beauty industry, which is much better for me. I work in project management as my 9 to 5.
You often skate and pose in lingerie. How did you start modeling it?
My best friend is a lingerie designer. She started her brand, Sada by Sarah, a few years ago. She asked me to take pictures in [the] lingerie because I needed to put some pictures on my website. I said sure—being a supportive friend, trying to help her sell her stuff. Over time she kept asking me, because people weren’t really comfortable taking pictures in lingerie back then. My pictures got good reception and she told me I needed to be the face of her brand because everyone loved my pictures, and everything was selling out. So I just stuck with it and I’ve been modeling lingerie ever since.
How did you grow your web presence?
Since quarantine started, I’ve been teaching virtual skate lessons, doing skate tutorials, and modeling lingerie. Honesty, quarantine just helped. I’ve been doing all this stuff for years but it gave me the freedom to narrow in and focus. I just got into this whole influencer thing a few months ago. It’s all new to me. I really just want to make dope shit.
The other part that’s really dope to me is that 99.9 percent of my partnerships have been with Black-owned brands. I’m really not trying to be an influencer, it’s just happening. But if it’s going to give me opportunities to do all the things that are kind of in my head and get paid for it, and put my culture on, why not? People are just now starting to talk about skating. Before that, it was Roll Bounce and ATL. Then there was a hiatus after that. Then our rinks started closing and they made a documentary off of that. That was it. But people still don’t really know what the culture is about, that we’ve been here. It’s this new trendy thing, which is dope because the people who have been doing it forever are getting the shine they were supposed to have and it’s really good to see that. But then again, there’s so much that people don’t know—that’s why I made a docuseries.
“I love hearing feedback from Black women. They tell you what’s working. They ask good questions.”
How did you feel when your video went viral?
I was in total shock. I was like What the hell? Where are all of these followers coming from? I just couldn’t believe that that’s what it took. Literally, I was just playing around with Reels. I was trying to figure out how it worked—like, let me just blend some videos of me skating just for a throwback or something and mix it with some recent stuff. That was my first Reel.
What is your creative process?
It varies depending on what I’m feeling or what it’s for. Really it’s just based on what I’ve always wanted to do at a location, or missing skating to a certain song. That’s usually how it starts. My inspiration comes from old, early-2000s and ‘90s music videos. I’m like, Oooo, I always wanted to learn this dance. I’m always looking to try new things and blend it in with skating. Also, my inspiration or creative process can really come from what I’m wearing. People want me to market their clothing or accessories, so I just let that guide me. Then I beg someone to record my videos. It’s usually one of my friends, or my aunt, or my man. Now I’m really fast with recording Reels. I can record one in 10 or 15 minutes, tops, because I have a concept.
What is one super specific career goal that you have for this year?
Creating the things that I actually like related to skates, whether it’s wardrobe [or] laces. Even if it’s a collaboration. Outside of skating, I’m really trying to get into voiceovers. My mom used to always tell me I should rap or be on the radio. That’s where the money is at. I really want to do it for a series like Big Mouth.
One is with Puma. I love their clothes. My other dream collaboration is with Gucci Mane.
What’s unique about your followers?
They’re mostly black women. One thing about Black women is that they gas you and up and tell you exactly what they like and what they want to see more of. I love hearing feedback from Black women in general. They give the best feedback. They tell you what’s working. They ask good questions. I also have a lot of other skaters—new skaters and older ones.