Marina Correia is using her longboard to spread freedom and love
- Text by Isabelle Gray
Marina Correia fell in love with skating the first time she stepped on a board. The sense of freedom she felt cruising along on her borrowed longboard’s polyurethane wheels was overpowering – and it radically changed the course of her life.
Marina became the first African woman to lift the crown of Longboard Dancing Freestyle World Champion in 2020. Next year, she’ll represent her native Cape Verde as an Olympic Ambassador at the Paris 2024 Games. Marina is on a mission to use her platform to share her passion for longboarding and broadcast an inspiring message to other young women: “Nothing can stop you.”
Directed by Jack Flynn and Dan Langton, L’Amour De Ma Vie tells the story of how longboarding transformed Marina’s life and her drive to share her love of the sport and sense freedom it gave her with others. Produced by Bullfrog Studios and Deja Films, the film is released by The Outsiders Project and Huck Presents, our new stream to share stories we love and champion filmmakers we admire.
Marina grew up in Cape Verde but when she arrived in Nice in the south of France aged 14, she found herself having to adjust to a new life and a new language. Until she eventually found kinship and community within the local skate scene, she faced a tough reception at school. “In Cape Verde, there is a mixture of black, white and mixed-race people and we are all equal and together,” Marina explains. “I never felt like there was a difference between me and my friends. But when I came to France, it was the first thing I noticed. People want you to know that you’re not from here, that you’re different.”
Comments from her schoolmates about her hair, the colour of her skin and her accent made her feel even more like an outsider. “It was very difficult for me to make friends at first, and because of that, I lost confidence,” she explains. “I started to not talk at all because I was scared to be a joke.”
Marina was introduced to longboarding aged 17 when a friend lent her a board. “It was like love the first time,” she says. “I was just having fun. I learned how to fail but I was loving it so much because it was the only way for me to express myself without talking. It’s a mixture of peace, freedom and adrenaline.”
Incorporating dance steps into her skating from the beginning, her speed and effortless style won her sponsorship from skate brand, Sector 9, just nine months after taking up the sport. “I went from the girl who borrowed a broken board from her friend to having a new board every month,” she says. “My only job was to skate and have fun. It became my obsession. For me, it was like a good drug.”
Marina’s confidence flourished when she found Nice’s skate community and was welcomed with open arms. “They don’t talk about your religion or skin colour or any of that stuff,” she explains. “We say, ‘Just come with a board and skate with us.’ That was a much better way for me to know myself, explore my identity and grow as a human. Skateboarding is a universal language. It’s beautiful.”
Growing up, Marina felt she lacked role models. Now, everything she does, whether it’s modelling, teaching longboarding or storming competitions, is about getting her message out, bringing new people to the sport and being a role model for others. “For me right now, the competitions are not something I want to do just to win,” Marina explains. “I want to pass a message of true passion for longboarding and I want other people to try it.”
Alongside competition and modelling, Marina teaches longboarding classes to people ranging from ages six to 51. She has also started an all-female skate group in order to make the still male-dominated sport more appealing and accessible to women. “For guys, it’s too easy to just go and skate,” Marina explains. “I think there are girls who want to try it but they’re a little shy. It’s a different approach from a guy teaching a girl, to a girl teaching a girl.”
Marina is driven by a desire to stay true to herself and lead by example. “The message I want to send to people is to learn and to practice – not compare yourself to other people on social media,” she explains. “You have to learn to love yourself. We are born alone and we die alone, so you have to live for yourself – not for other people or for your followers. That’s what I try to do every day.”
Looking forward, Marina has many exciting prospects on the horizon. She’s determined to use her role as ambassador for Cape Verde at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games to inspire other young people, including those from immigrant backgrounds, like hers. “I want young kids who move outside of their home countries to know that nothing can stop you,” she says. “You can do anything you want. Don’t let a new language or other people get in the way. If you believe in yourself and your goals, you can reach them.”
L’Amour De Ma Vie is directed by Jack Flynn and Dan Langton and produced by Bullfrog Studios and Deja Films.
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