In 2015, seven-year-old skateboarder Rayssa Leal went viral in an Instagram video that showed her adorned in tutu and fairy wings performing a heelflip. On Vine, a scalped version had over 210 million views and spawned copies all over Facebook and Twitter. The original video posted by Leal has 34,692 likes as of this reporting. Six year later, Nike has released a spot called “New Fairies” featuring the Brazilian skateboarder, now an Olympic medalist, donning her fairy wings once again.
The video, part of Nike’s global “Play New” campaign, shows Leal with her animated wings skateboarding through her home country’s streets accompanied by cartoon animals and sprinklings of pixie dust. To complete the fairytale aesthetic, the tune “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from Disney’s “Cinderella” plays over the scraping and crashing sounds of Leal’s board.
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But Leal has no fairy godmother—she makes her own magic. Now thirteen, she is the youngest athlete to ever represent Brazil at the Olympic Games and won the silver medal in the competition’s first-ever street skateboarding event last weekend. The Nike ad’s juxtaposition of fantasy cliches against Leal’s physical effort and years-long training, evidenced by a cut of the 2015 viral video in the spot’s finale, delivers an inspiring message for young dreamers, a.k.a. new fairies: hard work and dedication make happily ever afters.
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"I am very happy to inspire other girls to take up the sport," says Leal in a statement. "Skateboarding is a sport for women too, it's for everyone. I want other girls to have the same opportunity I had, to see their lives and their dreams fulfilled through the sport. We only need to believe in ourselves and in our potential."
"Rayssa's journey is an inspiration to all girls, all around the world,” added Gustavo Viana, marketing director at Nike’s Brazilian distributor FISIA. “It shows that you can be a kid and believe in fairy tales, and at the same time be brave and go into areas that weren't seen as spaces for girls. Nike wants to promote the sport and show that everyone can practice it, regardless of gender. The intention of this sport is to bring people together.”
Previous work in Nike's "Play New" campaign has seen athletes stepping outside of their comfort zones, a soccer field pangea and a utopian future where impossible athletic feats are possible.