MID90s | a video interview

by Jake Harrison

Meme culture has adopted things like “Only 90’s kids will remember” and “she’s too young” as monikers for the dramatic divide between generations, spatially. Yet the 90s mystifies me. It’s a blip in our history; a time in which most of the rules were thrown out or rewritten. When Beanie Babies and slap bracelets were as far as the eye could see. 

It’s likely we all remember the 90s through different avenues. I tend to believe that it, the 90s, lived on way past the 2000s. The 90s is no longer just an era; its a style, a commercial entity, and youthfulness bottled at the source. No matter how many many memes or commercial gimmicks filter the 90s, nobody holds it with such care as Jonah Hill’s Mid90s. The film doesn’t try to sell you your youth in the ways of contemporaneity, rather it stands as a love letter to the age of feeling the asphalt scrape your knee or the sound of a dial-up modem. 

We met up with the cast of Mid90s to discuss everything from skating to working with Jonah. As a ode to the film, we recorded our interview fully analog for all of you 90s kids.


BJ: How much of a skateboarder were you before? 

Na-kel: How much of a skateboarder was I? Oh hell naw, skating is my whole entire life to this day. I am a professional skateboarder. I’ve got pro boards and shoes and all of that that comes along with that. 

BJ: What was the process of you getting into the character, was it easy for you?

Na-kel: I would say is was pretty easy. Just based on the fact that once I got hired it was kind of like you can’t drop the ball. Everybody has such a big job, I guess and everybody is so focused on their job that you got to focus on yours and make sure you don’t fuck up. 

BJ: Did you relate to your character, who was kind of like the real big brother? 

Na-kel: Ya, I related to Ray in a lot of ways. Since I was young, I’ve been trying to get a lot of my friends to focus on something because I was so focused. I used to preach to my friends all the time like, ‘bro we should do this, or that’. And I don’t know, shit just started working itself out. I want everybody to feel that feeling; being able to create something for yourself. 

I think I relate to a lot of the characters, in the movie, actually. I have been in the position of “Fourth Grade,” where your dream is kind of outlandish or wild to people, or that of “Stevie,” being the ‘new kid;’a person who is finding a new side of themselves. Or even “fuckshit," where I’m not worried about anything and kind of just wanting to have fun. I feel like that fuck shit is probably where I’m at now. I feel like I've been right for so long that I am trying to go out and fucking party. 

BJ:I feel like the character in the film represent one person divided into 5 parts, none of them are really whole on their own.

Na-kel: Right? I have been thinking about that a lot. 

BJ: The psychology of it is really interesting. Obviously, It’s subliminal but it’s real. We are all trying to be a part of something, gets jealous, or wants to fuck shit up in hopes of figuring it all out. I really appreciate that whole aspect. 


BJ: Can you tell us a little bit about your character? Did you relate to him?

Ryder: I play “Fourth Grade” who is pretty much like Justice (our videographer) pretty much filming everything and not really saying much. So I had a lot of reference points. I definitely related to the character in middle school, I wanted to be in front of the camera more then.

BJ: At the end of the movie there was all this footage that your character shot, was that actually from what you were filming? 

Ryder: Yeah! Every scene they were shooting I was actually rolling as well.

BJ: What is your history with skateboarding?

Ryder: I have been skating since I was like seven and now I skate for a company called the Illegal Civ., Mikey Alfred is the owner and actually co-produced the film.

BJ: is that how you got involved? 

Ryder: Yeah, he was like, ‘I want to give all my friends the opportunity to be a part of it,’ and now I’m here in the Four Seasons Beverly Hills which is so weird.

BJ: why do you find it weird?

Ryder: I don’t know, I would never be here! Why would I be here? Would you be here? he says motioning to his cast mates.

Na-kel: Hell naw.

Ryder: Exactly.


BJ: How long have you been skating?

Sunny: Since I was three, so about 10 years. 

BJ: Yeah, I wasn't sure if they had brought you in and were teaching to skate along the way.

Sunny: I had to pretend that I couldn't skate–which is pretty difficult. But I mean I tried; it still doesn't look too believable to me. 

Olan: He’s a perfectionist, he jokes.

BJ: How did you get involved with the movie?

Sunny: Pretty much the same as everybody–Mikey Alfred, the co-producer of the film. He had introduced me to Jonah at the skatepark.He told me he was looking for a kid that skates and then would just try to teach them how to act, but I’d already had acting experience, so it just kind of worked out.

BJ: So you want to continue skating and acting?

Sunny: Yeah, I take skating seriously! I want to make a career out of it and same with my acting. I have some auditions lined up and I’m out skating as much as I can.


BJ: How did you get involved in the movie? 

Gio: Through Mikey Alfred. I was just at skatepark and he asked me to audition. A few weeks later Jonah called me and told me I got the part. It was pretty sick.

BJ: How do you feel you relate to your character? 

Gio: I don’t relate to the character at all. I feel like my character was a hater, so it was hard to navigate. But we had a lot of rehearsals which that helped. Jonah and every on set had a lot of advice that helped make the character click for me.

BJ: What was the hardest thing you had to perform? 

Gio: I think it was the scene where Sunny’s character, “Stevie” and I had to scream at each other, I think they edited some of it out but it was draining. We all, [the cast] had become so close that it was hard to face some tension.

BJ: How much of the film was improv? 

Gio: Not that much actually. It was all scripted–

Cast: There was so much involved in the rehearsals that we did not want to throw it away.  We wanted the film to be respectful to Jonah’s script–that he has been working on for three years. We just worked hard to be the best we could be.

Gio: And I, personally, did not think I could top Jonah’s script .


BJ: Do you have a background in skating?

Olan: I’ve been skating for as long as I can remember. Since the board has been bigger than me.

BJ: Was your character easy to tap in to?

Olan: It’s funny because the character is someone who doesn't try hard at anything and me–being my first time acting– I was trying as hard as I possibly could. It was difficult trying to express the opposite mindset. I had to remember not to try hard.

BJ: Did you know most of the cast before? 

Olan: Half and half. I’ve known Na-Kel forever, met Ryder about 3 or 4 years ago through skating, and everyone else through skating around LA. Skateboarding is such a tight community you see everybody who skates just from going to skateparks.

BJ: What character would you say is the most like you?

Olan: Its weird, I would say “Fourth Grade”. I am such a shy person. I have two sides to me: one of which is when I am on the board and one when I’m off. When I’m skating it brings out confidence – the funny joking side of me; except I’m probably not that funny. It brings out energy that I can’t match off the board. Off the board, I don’t know, I am very reserved. 

BJ: How do you feel the audience is going to view your character? 

Olan: I don’t know, I love the character that Jonah wrote and created. I’m just excited for people to see it. I feel fortunate to play such a fun and relatable character.

Mid90s is in theaters now! Find tickets here.

Filmed and Recording on VHS and Cassette by Justice Ott

Video editing by May He

Interview by Bj Panda Bear

Text and Images by Jake Harrison

Talent: Na-kel Smith, Ryder Mclaughlin, Sunny Suljic, Gio Galicia, and Olan Prenatt.