There’s hardly anything cooler and worth every worshipping fan than being a young and incredibly gifted skateboarder who’s perpetually in love with what he does. Paul Rodriguez, Jr., better known as P-ROD, is exactly that.
Paul Rodriguez, Jr. grinded his way to the top; he has won over 20 awards including three gold medals at the X Games. He’s also one of only five people in the world with a Nike shoe named after him, making him the first Hispanic and the first skateboarder to own that distinction.
When he’s not on his board, Paul’s out there making the world a better place one skate park at a time. In 2009, he put up the Paul Rodriguez Skate Park in Pacoima, California. And as if that weren’t enough, he also owns and runs his very own skate shop, Primitive. Amazingly, P-Rod still finds time to venture into other things such as starting yet another new company and, probably toughest of all, being a father.
A lot’s been said about P-Rod, but let’s face it—he is one onion we just wanna keep peeling. Today, I got to ollie up to the man and catch a quick Q&A where he talks about his past, present, future, and the important things in life.
You arguably have the most awesome job in the world… Tell us what awesome things you’ll be doing today?
Today, I’m gonna go have lunch with family—my daughter and my woman. And then after that, I’m gonna go skate for a few hours, go home, relax, watch some TV, eat some food, hang out. Today’s kind of a leisure day…
What does a busy day look like for you, then?
Yesterday was a busy day. I had a photo shoot that started at ten o’clock and ran all the way to six in the afternoon. It was for Mountain Dew. We spent most of the morning just doing photos and product shots. Then we went over to Hollenbeck Skate Park in downtown Los Angeles. I did a couple actions shots since they like to get all the ads ready for the summer for all the contests.
You’ve bagged a couple awards for your role in Vicious Circle. Will we be seeing more of you on the silver screen this year or in the future?
I don’t know if it’ll be this year that I’ll be on the silver screen, but I definitely intend on transitioning into an acting career as my skate career starts winding down. But right now, I’m still young, I’m still in my physical peak years, so I wanna dedicate that to my skateboarding…
What about TV? Have you considered doing a reality show? Bam [Margera]’s done it, Rob [Dyrdek]’s doing it. What about you?
If I’m gonna be on TV, I wanna be an actor and play roles. The reality thing isn’t really for me because it just takes too much time from skateboarding. I need to be focused, skating, practicing to get better everyday.
What about P-Rod, the entrepreneur? Any big plans for Primitive going international?
…as far as expanding our stores, [Berlin,] Germany will be our second location, the first one out of the country. I’ve also got a little wallet accessory company called Markisa…[which] just got picked up in Zumiez…
Is there another side of you we don’t know about yet? Maybe P-Rod, the musician or P-Rod, the rapper?
[Laughs] Before I skateboarded, I definitely wanted to start a band. I played guitar very heavily, took a lot of guitar lessons, played it a lot… The only time I rap is in the shower. Other than that, I’m not the most musical guy. I’m pretty much a boring guy. There’s probably another side of me that you’d see if you hung out with me, but mainly, all I can think about is skateboarding. That’s all I got, that’s all that’s in my mind. It’s like an obsession. I can’t stop thinking about it.
As successful as you are today, do you ever still feel like you have to prove something at least to yourself?
[My father] would always tell me, “It’s cool if you enjoy doing that, but could you support a family?” And I was just like “Alright! You’ll see. I’mma show you.” And I was fortunate enough to do that. Now, at this point, I just want to prove to myself that I can continue getting better, that I can continue learning new tricks and learning new things, pushing my sport and continue staying at the top for many years to come…
Skateboarding has become something you can make a real living out of. How can it become even more accessible as a professional sport?
I think the way that it’s gonna really break into the mainstream is with this Street League, created by Rob Dyrdek, which is the new contest series that’s going on. We’re going to our second season this summer, and it’s broadcast live on ESPN… And I feel like, the way the league is set up, it’s gonna be as big as the NBA or MLB in the upcoming year…
Looking back at what you’ve done and everything you’ve accomplished, what is the most memorable thing that has happened in your life next to skateboarding?
Of course, the birth of my child. I’m looking at her right now. She’s, by far, the biggest thing that’s happened. I can’t say I’m the best dad in the world, but I’m hoping that as she grows older, I’ll be a parent that’s patient and open-minded. I’d like to have a relationship with my child where, when she feels like it, she can come and tell me anything…
In a country like the Philippines, where skateboarding is still developing into a true sport, is there anything you can say to the kids to inspire them to reach the level of skateboarding that you guys have in the US?
It all started from passion. It all started from love. So as long as you’re passionate about skateboarding and working on your craft and the act of skateboarding: riding your board everyday, practicing everyday, doing what you love…that passion, with my life, is always guiding me in the right place… I’ve caught myself getting motivated by things that I would never have been motivated by before, like money or more sponsorships or more accolades. The second you put those things in front of your mind…it starts becoming a job. It starts becoming a negative thing. Just focus on the act of riding a skateboard…
Lastly, what did Paul Rodriguez, Jr. have to do to be internationally recognized as “P-Rod”? ‘Cause I need a cool new nickname just like that.
[Laughs] Well, you know, that one…I can’t…I don’t even know where to start. Some things just kind of happen spontaneously, and you can’t say that there was a plan behind it… Basically, I don’t have a clear answer for how that happened… You’d be surprised with what could happen if you just focus on yourself and follow your passion.
Interview and story by Diego José Abad
Photographed by Mike Martin