Here’s Walker Ryan’s 20 Questions from our January issue. But that’s not all (read in cheesy announcer voice)! Organika’s new video Zach & Walker’s Concrete Jungle just came out and the good people at Kayo want to give away an Organika package too. Peep the gallery below to see the goods. Scroll to the very bottom of the page to see how to win it!
Walker Ryan 20 Questions
Interview by Blair Alley
Ryan Walker, sorry, Walker Ryan is a full-time student at UCSD. But his intellect goes much deeper than just book smarts. His mature perspective on politics, globalization, and worldly ways in general isn’t normal for someone at the ripe old age of twenty. All this and we haven’t even mentioned his skating yet—or his acting career.
The Napa Valley to San Diego transplant managed to make his college education and a blossoming career in skateboarding work—all in his pleasantly laid-back manner. And after making fast friends with the finest skaters in America’s Finest City, Walker was soon the toast of the town and the go-to tour guide for any skate spot on the Triton campus.
So we’re pop-quizzing Walker with 20 Questions about being the center of a universe comprised of higher education, a lower-life entourage, unauthorized on-campus parties, and Kate Winslet.
Photos by Matt Daughters and Allen Ying
1. What’s the difference between high school and college?
It’s all relative. It comes down to if you’re willing to put in a little bit of work. In college it becomes more involved because you’re studying stuff you’re into. High school is a lot more petty work—a lot of stuff you have to just deal with. College becomes more defined, like if you really find you’re into something, you can roll with it and stay focused.
2. Where’d you get better grades, high school or college?
I’ve been pretty much getting the same kind of grades. College can be harder, but easier. It’s not so much homework, but like a paper and a test. If you put in the time, then you can produce the same kind of grades.
What kind of grades did you need to get into UCSD?
I had pretty decent grades, it was next to like a 4.0.
[Laughs] Next to like a 4.0!
[Laughs] Somewhere around there.
3. Yeah, that’s pretty good. Was UCSD your first choice?
Kind of, I applied to the UCs and picked the one I felt would be the best experience.
You defected from NorCal down to S.D.
Yeah, you know, try something new.
4. Did you know UCSD was going to have so many skate spots?
I had no idea. When I picked UCSD, I had no clue that it was going to end up being this little mecca. It was just like, “Let’s try out San Diego.”
Did you recognize all the spots from old videos?
Oh yeah, immediately. For the first couple weeks all I would do was cruise around this massive campus and find all these reminiscent spots from old videos and I thought, “Oh yeah, it’s gonna be on.”
5. How many photos from this interview are from UCSD?
I’m hoping it will be all of them [laughs].
That’s amazing that you can shoot interviews without leaving campus.
Well, it’s one of those schools that’s unintentionally catering to skaters.
6. It seems like college campuses across the country are always good to skate, especially the UC system.
UC Irvine—look at Heath Kirchart’s part. [UC] Davis has it too. UCSD has been stigmatized as one of the more bust schools, and it is that, but it’s so big that you can get away with it. You can mash around and then have spots that are good for photos and footage as well. It caters to all.
7. This is so ironic because so many skaters would see college as an end to their skate career: “I guess I’ll go to college since I’m not gonna make it in skating.” But you’re doing both.
It just shows that you never know what college can offer. For me, nothing was really going with skating after high school, so I decided to go to college and it ended up being a whole new place to work from. You never know what opportunities you’ll get.
So if nothing was going on after high school, how did you get hooked up?
I had nothing planned out for me at the time, but I was getting flow.
Who was the first person you talked to, Karl Watson?
Yeah. Karl set it up and I was getting boards [from Organika]. I just came down to San Diego not knowing it was going to be so close to Kayo.
8. So sh-t started happening for you when you got to San Diego?
Yeah. I first met Karl and he sent my tape into Kayo. Then a while after I had been living in San Diego, I started skating with everybody and getting to know the team and everybody involved with Kayo and it picked up from there. But even before that I was skating so much down here, getting involved with the local scene, and just meeting all kinds of people.
How long were you living here until you were rolling with John Lupfer?
Oh, dude, John Lupfer was the first dude I met. It was perfect. I met him through this filmer Adam [Stephenson]. I met all the locals through John.
9. Ears [Justin Williams] called me a couple years ago and told me about this kid Walker he knows who moved to S.D., was going to UCSD, he rips and he was gonna call me to go skate. Then the first time I talked to you, you were like, “Yeah, I’m with these guys, like John Lupfer… ” I was like, “F—k, you’re already with the best dudes!” I thought you were gonna be some kid that knew no one.
I feel like I got so lucky to meet John, and then through him I met what I feel like was everybody in San Diego. I could list off names, but it goes from like the Sk8mafia crew to North County. And then it all trickles down to like some of the sponsors I was riding for.
So Lupfer is about to move into this crazy skate house we’re in right now. This is actually a nice neighborhood though, right?
It’s pretty nice. It pretends to be a gated community because it’s right next to USD.
Yet, this house consists of you, Lupfer… I want to talk about your wacky crew, too. You’re so mellow and mild-mannered, but you roll with some of the craziest dudes I’ve ever met, like Andy the Navy Seal.
Wacky—no. What it is, this house is just some of the homeys I grew up skating with and they’ve all made their way down to San Diego.
10. Who’s your crazy buddy that’s in the movie with you and really good at skating?
He’s like the NorCal Rosie—John Rosencrantz. Who would you equate him to?
To me, he’s like a Cardiel, he just charges whatever he’s feeling and rips it. I’m definitely just hyped to have the whole crew down here.
11. Tell me about the classroom parties you throw.
[Laughs] All right. Once again, college can offer some interesting opportunities. There was an art room that one of my friends knew the security code to—like a big 60-plus-capacity room. So we would just open it up to anyone who wanted to come and just have a party.
You’d just open the art room at night and throw ragers?
And you never got busted?
We got busted once.
That sounds like such a movie scenario.
It wasn’t too crazy, we just got people in the room, had a good time, and cleaned up in the morning, and they would never find out.
How was living in that lavish dorm room last year?
I got hooked up with a good dorm room. I ended up looking out over the whole Southern California coast. As close to the La Jolla cliffs as you can get at my school.
How’d you score that room?
Kinda luck. Second year in the dorms. We could pick the room. You apply for a second-year apartment at UCSD, and if you don’t get one, you go back to the dorm. We ended up picking a good one.
12. You’re starting your third year at UCSD, what’s your major?
I’m majoring in Sociology. I do an International Studies program, so that’s the declared major, but I take a primary track in Sociology. I’ve just been taking classes that I think are interesting and I think apply to everyday life, especially if I’m going to be travelling around. I want to understand how other societies around the world work. If I’m going to have the opportunity to travel, I’d love to have an added understanding of other cultures and how they work. I look at college as not just getting a degree to get a job or something and just move along—you have the opportunity to get an education, and I’d like to apply that education to what I’m doing.
Don’t you also have a minor?
Yeah, I’m minoring in Cognitive Science.
The study of how the brain works.
And it’s sick, because at UCSD, it’s one of the places in the country where they’re really taking new steps and examining how the brain works and really going into it. It’s like psychology, but it’s also neuroscience involved.
13. Did you get called a nerdy skater in high school?
Nah, I just skated and handled school.
You gonna get that degree in four years?
Ah dude, I’m lookin’ at probably five-plus years. I’m not trying to rush through school, and I want to be skating. So hopefully I can balance my time right.
What if some fat-ass sociology job [both laugh] comes across the plate at the same time Organika and C1RCA are like, “We want you to be a pro skater, you can’t take that job.” Which would you choose?
Skateboarding. I want to be able to skateboard the world and meet all kinds of people. In the meantime, I’m just going to go to school—why not? It doesn’t take up that much time, if you can balance it.
Especially when your school is a skatepark.
What kids gotta know, I feel like, and what everybody should realize, is that college offers a more lenient schedule than anything you’ve ever experienced. And what most college kids do is they end up just partying and focusing on something else. When it’s like, you can do anything. I feel like I’ve had more time to skate now than I’ve ever had in my entire life. In high school you have class from 7:30 in the morning until 3:30 p.m. and then you just try to skate on the weekend. In college, I go to class for an hour or two a day, and then it’s like, “What are we gonna do?” “John Lupfer, what’s up?” [Laughs.]
14. Do you ever skate with two T-shirts on? Like doubled up?
It’s been done.
Why? That’s so weird.
Sweat out the second? I don’t know?
15. How many people call you Ryan Walker?
That’s been the story of my life. For some reason it’s hard for people. Every substitute teacher, they’re like, “Are you sure your name’s not Ryan Walker?”
Anyone ever tell you you have good hair?
[Laughs] It’s been complimented.
[Laughs] It’s good ’cause it’s red.
When it gets red and flowing—as long as it’s not on the Shaun White tip.
Who are your favorite redhead skaters?
Well, we can count them on one hand. Recently, Weiger, he’s killing it. Oh, Jamie [Palmore], dude, Jamie’s the best! Jamie’s on another level where I don’t even think of him as a f—kin’ ginger, he’s just like the best skateboarder alive. I don’t mean to digress, but coming to San Diego, I’ve seen one of the most amazing underground scenes.
16. Deep talent pool in San Diego right now, right?
Oh my God, one of the most underrated—well, I feel like it’s becoming well-known, but definitely some of the best skateboarders I’ve ever witnessed in person.
Everyone from Wes [Kremer] to Tyler [Surrey], and then Jamie, Jimmy Cao, John, it just goes on. Everyone just blows me away. I feel so fortunate to witness this kind of sh-t. Just to come in and skate with these dudes. And everyone is so cool and so fun to skate with. There’s no ego trips or anything. These dudes like Marius [Syvanen], Shuriken [Shannon], all those dudes—I could go on with names, but the bottom line is all these guys, to me, represent skating, having fun, and progressing the sport. And this is just one little place and I feel like it’s going on everywhere.
Since you grew up skating in NorCal and now you’re in San Diego, how would you describe the two different scenes? There doesn’t seem to be any rivalry anymore, does there?
It’s all relative. I’m from the Napa Valley, a small town in the wine country called St. Helena. I ended up getting sponsored by 510 skate shop, so I would go out to the East Bay to skate, and that whole scene was a whole other culture that was ill. Everyone was killing it. It was a new scene of locals and transplants and everyone. It was totally positive, everyone was moving it forward on the underground level. I wouldn’t say it’s much different here—some of the kids coming up out of San Diego are just gnarly, and that’s that. It’s the same kinda vibes, there’re not too many cliques. NorCal, SoCal, I wouldn’t say there’s a beef or difference. I’ve been hyped to get a taste of both.
17. Okay, time to go into the IMDb.com résumé.
You’re SAG eligible. What does that mean?
I could apply for a SAG card. I don’t know much about it. It’s the Screen Actors’ Guild, and a lot of people work for that card so they can get better jobs and better pay. I had one little movie role and I got SAG eligible, but I wasn’t gonna get the card ’cause it would have cost the same as what I made. It’s like a couple Gs.
I wouldn’t say you had a little role [both laugh]. The movie’s called Little Children, right?
Yeah, Little Children. Kate Winslet. Jennifer Connelly. Peep it [laughs].
You ollied and boardslid an eleven in it!
I’ll ollie an eleven easy, but I’m proud my boardslide on an eleven is in that one.
How many times did you have to boardslide it?
It was this scene where I boardslid the eleven-stair as this van drove out of frame, so we had to do it over and over. I probably did it close to 40 times.
Was it like a fake movie-set rail?
No, in Staten Island we found this library that had this good eleven rail, but the landing and run-up were janky. The crew that was behind New Line Cinema, they actually replaced both. They tore out the ground and re-cemented it. So, find that rail, Staten Island.
Back to your résumé, it says musical instrument: trumpet.
Dog, I played trumpet all the way through high school [laughs]. I was in the jazz band.
Athletic skills: skateboarding, surfing, basketball, soccer, snowboarding, tennis, swimming. You surf NorCal? You surf Mavericks?
Snowbroding? You hittin’ the pow-pow?
Hey look, I put the possible job opportunities. I was looking at this movie role like, I could get a couple more jobs. Why not just skate through it? It was seriously so much fun. I got my friend David Cole, who we talked about, involved. And then it was some of the best East Coast dudes. It was Joe Tookmanian, Danny Falla, and Luis Tolentino. We just hung out on the set of a movie for five days and skated flatground. We were making a nice little 700 a day. They put us up in a nice hotel. We would skate through the night. We would start at six o’clock in the evening and get off at six in the morning. Straight twelve hours days, but we had the best food. And everyone on the crew was so sick.
18. Did you meet Kate Winslet and Jennifer Connelly?
I didn’t meet Jennifer, but Kate Winslet was definitely one of the coolest chicks ever. She came up to me at the premiere and was like, [in a high-pitched terrible British accent] “Hey duuude!” [Laughs] In her British accent.
That’s funny that you say British accent, because it says under your performer skills that you do a British accent [both laugh]. And I’m going to have Skin Phillips and Oliver Barton review this tape, so don’t half-step.
[Again in a terrible British accent] Oh, this is a problem [laughs]. I put it down because, hey, a British accent can be done. I hope it doesn’t go too far into that, because I’m not any kind of an actor. When we first got hired, it was as a skateboard consultant. I helped with the spot location and with the lines in the movie so it was realistic. The director, Todd Field, who is kind of like a family friend was like, “Do you want to just play the skater?” I was like, “I’ve never acted before, I don’t know.” He eventually talked me into it, and I asked if I could bring my friend along. I got my homey in the mix, they flew us out to New York, and we did it. I’m tellin’ you, it was straight-up fun. Just hangin’ out on the set of this multimillion-dollar picture. We were just skating. They recreated the ABC ledges from Staten Island. I told them that was a famous spot, so they just built them at the location.
19. Here’s a political one: I know you have a “No One Died When Clinton Lied” bumper sticker on your car.
I put that on after the first Bush victory. I’ve actually gotten pulled over for that. I know that the cop gave me a ticket for that. I got pulled over for having a road sign in my car, and ended up just getting a ticket for driving without my sixth-month permit done. But after the ticket, he went on this spiel about, “Actually after Clinton lied about Monica Lewinsky, he invaded Kuwait… ” I was like, come on, I’m sixteen. I told him directly, “This is in reference to Bush lying about there being nuclear weapons in Iraq.”
Well, It’s a fact that 80 to 85 percent of the country disapproves of Bush. I know you support Obama, so what’s your take on the state of our country and the coming election?
If people get out there and vote, I don’t think there’s any way we can stay under a Republican president. Even if you’re not highly informed or into politics, you can look at a few things and know that there’s gotta be a change. You can look at the fact that we’re still in a war, and it’s not coming to an end. And the fact that our economy is hurting and we’re heading toward a recession. I feel like there’s no way we can’t elect Obama. I know I’ll be voting.
20. You’re kind of like the flagship dude with the relaunch of Alphanumeric, how is that going?
I’ve been so hyped to be a part of that program. Everything we’re working towards is fresh and needed in skateboarding. We got a cool am squad we’re building: Andrew Langi, Tom Remillard—some of the best skaters I’ve ever watched. It’s got so much room to grow in skateboarding, it’s gonna be sick.
Nice work. As your professor of skateboarding, I give you an A. Put this on your fridge.
[Laughs] Hell yeah. Let’s just hope the real professors don’t read it and kick me out of school for promoting skateboarding on campus.
Now that you’ve read the interview, here’s what you gotta do to win. Did you peep Walker’s GPA? Are you a straight A student too? Send us your report card. Best grades are getting the package! Send scans, photos, or emails with your grades to firstname.lastname@example.org.