In a lot of ways, Mid90s was the perfect film to launch Olan Prenatt’s acting career. The 20-year-old Venice Beach native has been one to watch even before he joined forces with one of L.A.’s best-known skate crews, Illegal Civilization, back in 2015. The collective—which counts The Game and Tyler, the Creator among its members—makes everything from skate videos to streetwear to tech, and has come to symbolize much of what it means to ride in California today.
Long before then, though, Prenatt was bucking trends. As a kid, his unique style and effortless flow on the board gained him sponsorships from companies like Arbor and Rogue Status before he was even old enough to vote. Needless to say, when it came time to cast a coming-of-age film about skateboarding in L.A., Prenatt was an obvious choice.
Written and directed by Jonah Hill, Mid90s follows the story of 13-year-old Stevie (played by fellow Illegal Civ cohort Sunny Suljic), who finds refuge from his broken home and insufferable brother through his friendship with a ragtag crew of skaters. Prenatt plays Fuckshit, the combative rebel of the group whose downward spiral into drugs and alcohol becomes one of the film’s most striking story lines, as well as its most painful cautionary tale.
“My friend Mikey Alfred gathered up a whole grip of skaters around Los Angeles—probably like 60 or 70 of us—to audition,” Prenatt recalls. “I went in and ended up just talking to Jonah about a time I used my girl’s fake ID to get into a club, and we just started laughing from there. He said he knew I had the part then, but when he told the production company they were like, ‘Yo, you forgot to audition him and make sure he knows how to act.’”
A few script readings later, Prenatt had officially scored the role. “It was my first acting job and first film,” he says, “but I wasn’t scared. I didn’t even think about being scared, honestly. It was just, like, such an amazing opportunity. I was like, ‘Let’s do it.’”
It’s the same mentality that helped propel Prenatt from sponsored skater to bona fide teenage style icon. In recent years, his long, blond curly hair, piercing blue eyes, and bright, off-kilter fashion choices have endeared him to brands like Gucci and Hugo Boss, and gained him a social media following in the hundreds of thousands.
“I’ve always paid attention to what I was wearing. I’ve always been into colors,” he says, “but once I started actually purchasing my own clothes in high school—that’s when I started caring about things like my shoes and my ‘fits.”
Not surprisingly, Prenatt takes a lot of his style inspiration from the skate world—namely trendsetters like Stevie Williams and Braydon Szafranski. “It sounds cheesy, but clothes definitely affect how you skate,” he says. “They affect how you feel, and what you do on the board always represents how you’re feeling.”
Though Fuckshit’s story feels miles away from his own, Prenatt still sees Mid90s as one of the most important things he’s done for the skate scene so far. “It’s an important movie for people to check themselves on,” he says. “Stevie is kind of lost, and then he finds skateboarding, and for me it was sort of the opposite.” Prenatt has been skating for as long as he can remember, but it wasn’t until he stepped away from it in high school that he realized just how much he needed it: “I kind of realized how uncool I was and how much I didn’t really have friends. I realized how valuable skateboarding was to my life because it’s a full community that’s open to anybody, no matter how you act—it really treats you like family.”