I Am Thalente: Inspirational Documentary About a Talented Homeless Skateboarder Teen Discovered by Tony Hawke (Review)

Most of us can’t imagine being homeless, let alone being a homeless black teen at 17. You wouldn’t think he’d have much hope of getting off the street but Thalente has a special talent. Coming from a broken home in South Africa, it’s hard at first for him to lose his homeless mentality but he’s a professional skateboarder in the making. He’s eventually noticed by greats like Tony Hawke and Kenny Anderson. It’s a one in million opportunity but one that Thalente can’t turn down.

This film is a a tribute to those who are down on their luck yet still have a dream to pursue and haven’t lost hope that someday they’ll make it.

Filmmaker Natalie Johns was driven to create the film to spread the humanitarian message that shows just how far positivity and confidence can take someone, especially if they have the right support system to back them up. 

This film captures the extremes highs and lows of failure and success from the vantage point of a young protégé. It is something we don’t see nearly as often in the mainstream movie business but it’s the ultimate portrayal of the human struggle to find and live your destiny.

I had the pleasure of interviewing both Thalente and Director Nathalie Johns and both inspired me greatly. So much so that I left the interviews feeling extremely positive about my own life and the ups and downs I had currently been facing. It’s beautiful to know that we are all sharing the same struggles, no matter if we’re an aspiring pro skateboarder or anything at all. The human experience and struggles we endure, unite us like nothing else.


I first interviewed director and creator South African Natalie Johns who really blew my expectations away. Of course my first question was to ask Natalie why she wanted to create such a movie. Her answer was beyond what I anticipated: “I wanted to people to maybe question their perspective on what it takes to turn your life around and to rise up out of the circumstances you find yourself in. It applies to everybody, whether it’s pursuing your dream or changing a career or just trying to get out of a negative situation. It’s never as easy as –do A, B, C  and D will happen. The film isn’t about this big happy ending, it’s about the ongoing struggle to find a place in the world. We each have our own journey and they’re no particular path. Really just opening people’s minds. I’d really just love people to walk away seeing themselves in Thalente and the story. What is your measure of success going to be?”

I asked Natalie a quirky question, something nothing would know about her and she said she makes amazing sushi. She learned to make things beautiful before you eat it.

One of the main focuses of Natalie’s through the movie is to get Thalente into sharing his story in schools and other venues to help other children. She asked him what he really wanted to do long term and he said the public speaking to share his story to help others.

Next, I had the privilege of interviewing Thalente himself and although he wasn't nearly as talkative as Nathalie, he was humble, sweet and didn’t see himself as anything more or less than whoever he was talking with. He has certainly hit with the synchronicity bug because not everyone gets to work with Tony Hawke, let alone have a movie made about them.

Above all, throughout our conversation, he was incredibly humble and at ease talking about where he had come from and what he hoped to achieve in the world. It goes to show you that a little drive, determination and ambition can take you far and wide – but only if you want it to.

Cast & Crew

I encourage you to watch this movie. It’s a must-see if you’re struggling yourself to find the time, money and/or effort to pursue your dreams. It will reignite your flame inside that anything is possible and dreams do come true but we need to take action if we really want to achieve them.

Cast & Crew

I am Thalente hit the screens on Wednesday, May 11th, 2016  so go out and grab your copy of this doc to become inspired about life once again. Hats off to Natalie John, Thalente and the rest of the cast and crew for bringing hope back to humanity. 


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