Poppy Starr Olsen loves skateboarding. She also happens to be super talented at it. So talented that in 2016, aged 16, she won the famous Girls Combi Classic Pro division and became the first Australian woman to be invited to the Summer X Games. One year later, skateboarding was officially added to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games program. From then on, Poppy would be faced with the opportunity to represent Australia on the world’s biggest sporting stage. Tall Poppy, a Skater’s Story documents her journey and offers an “unfiltered 1.5-hour summary of [her] crazy, wild, beautiful life so far.”
“For me, who had struggled during my teenage years, lacking confidence, always worrying about what other people thought, it was very inspiring.” – Justine Moyle, film Director
Poppy’s first encounter with skateboarding happened when she was just eight years old. It was love at first sight, and she quickly became a Bondi bowl local. There, she would later cross paths with Justine Moyle, the Director of the film. “I was really intrigued by her. She was still very young and the only girl in the skatepark. She wasn’t fazed by the guys or afraid to take up space. She was just doing her thing and doing it very, very well. For me, who had struggled during my teenage years, lacking confidence, always worrying about what other people thought and especially boys, it was very inspiring”, remembers Justine.
At the time, skateboarding was the victim of deep-seated stereotypes that Poppy herself had to overcome. “When I first got into skateboarding, my parents had a specific, wrong idea of what skateboarders were. Because I was so young, they had to take me to the skatepark. But what they saw was all the older guys helping and cheering for me. That’s when they realised skateboarding was nothing like what they thought, but instead a very supportive, lovely community with people who just want to share the fun”, says Poppy.
From child prodigy to world-renowned Olympic athlete
Filmed over ten years, Tall Poppy, a Skater’s Story takes us on her journey as she navigates the uncomfortable idea of what it means to be a competitor. She also deals with the complexities of her relationship with a mum turned manager and tries to find her place in a male-dominated industry. The documentary follows her progression as a skater, grappling with the transition from child prodigy skateboarder to world-renowned Olympic athlete.
But that’s not all. Tall Poppy, a Skater’s Story also focuses on her evolution as a woman falling in love for the very first time. With Una, a Canadian female skateboarder, Poppy realises there is much more to life than skateboarding. “At first, I didn’t think too much about it. It just happened and it felt right, so I went with it. Even if we’re not together anymore, this love story remains an amazing part of my life. She helped me so much in so many aspects of my life.”
“If I can inspire them to try and be unapologetically themselves, then I’ll have achieved my goal.” – Poppy Starr Olsen
Una’s influence helped Poppy know herself better and learn about her sexuality. “I was always so busy with skateboarding that I never took the time to figure myself out. This love story taught me a lot about myself and made me realise that I am different. It made me come out, which wasn’t even that hard as there are so many queer people in the skateboarding community.”
This part of her story was important for Poppy to share. She wanted to assert her belonging to the LGBTQ community and support them. “I hope to encourage young skateboarders and queer people, who may have not fully discovered themselves yet, to just live their lives. I want them to know that many people love and support them, that life is short, and they’re not alone. If I can inspire them to try and be unapologetically themselves, then I’ll have achieved my goal.”
You can watch Tall Poppy, a Skater’s Story on Apple TV, iTunes and Vimeo On Demand.