Articles

becoming a pro cheerleader (ft. Napoleon Jinnies)


– Is this how it’s done? Sorry, are you ready?
– Gotcha. Hi, Everyone. My name is Tyler Oakley
and I am here today with the one and only Napoleon Jinnies. – Hi, Everybody. – How are you? – I’m good, how are you doing? – You know I’m alive. – Alive, thriving. – Thriving. – About to do all the things. – About to do the things. We met on the set of a
Abercrombie Pride Campaign shoot for Fierce Cologne, and it was the coolest little shoot because I met so many incredible queers and one of them was you. And I went home that
night and I like watched– – You did not. – A million things. Yes, I absolutely did. And I was like I would love
to do a video some day. And so here we are. – Ta-Dah! – So just like me, Napoleon is a professional
NFL cheerleader. And I am in the presence of greatness because he was one of the
first male cheerleaders to ever perform in the Super Bowl. So today, I was hoping I could learn how to do what you do
best, which is cheer. (Tyler laughs)
– Are you ready? Are you nervous? – I’m a little nervous. I went out and I found a
cheerleading type of look. I felt very Wildcats. – Get your head in the game. – Get your head in the game. – All the things. – Cause I’m ready to
get my head in the game. Okay, so what are we doing today? – Today, I think we’re gonna walk you through a normal prep audition class, as if you were gonna
audition for a pro team. – Who says I’m not? Maybe this is the beginning. Bye, YouTube. (Napoleon laughs softly) It’s been real. – And then maybe, if we have time, we’ll do like a little dance combo. – Work. (both laugh) Okay, great. – It’ll be fierce. – Let’s go. – First thing’s first is you can always tell a
dancer by their walking. Ooh, no. So, you’re going to step out to the side. Cross in front. Yep, yep. So now lift up your foot, lift it up. Now, pick it up, lift it
up, in front, in front. (Tyler laughs) And you also want to think that you’re in stilettos as well. – Okay. – You don’t wanna be like a pirate and dragging your leg, so that’s where the picking up
(fingers snap) comes in from. And your heels never touch the ground. – Wow. – [Napoleon] Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, wow that was good. – Ah, thank you. – Just try to doing a
straight line, though. – Bitch (both laugh)
Okay, okay, okay. Ah!
– Go one, two, three, four, five.
– Ah, wait! (Tyler laughing) – And one, two, three, four, five. (Tyler laughs) That’s actually not too bad. – Oh my god, okay. – I’ve seen worse. – Okay, where did you start cheerleading? – I was on a song team in high school and we were with cheer
at the football games and all that stuff so. – So ninth grade, tenth grade? – Tenth grade. – Tenth grade. – And to college yeah. – So in college, you
did it all four years? – Two years. From there, for the girls, the option was to go to like, you know, all the other pro teams in LA, so you can be a Charger
girl, a Laker girl, and at the time it wasn’t
really an option for guys and you never– – Really? – Yeah you’ve never even
heard about guys showing up. – So after that, guy
cheerleaders were just expected to like go do something else? – Yeah, so you would either
like teach cheer or dance. So I kinda went, you know,
dancing for theme parks and doing more LA gigs and
going like the industry route. So your arms are gonna be extended. So you’re gonna cross
and rock off your center. You’re gonna cross one, think that you’re catching a beach ball. You’re gonna open two,
and you’re gonna rock. Four, this is your prep,
you step out, five again, six you’re gonna do single pirouette, you’re gonna turn over
your right shoulder, catch the ball, seven, eight. Yes, the landing a little weird. – Thank you. – But yes. And then if you’re feeling
fancy and you wanna leap, do a quad, so you do four pirouettes. – Show me that quad. (upbeat music) – Quad. – Oh. – Yeah. – I didn’t know it was that simple. – It is. – Got it. – Triple go.
(Hands clapping) – Ah! – Whoa! – Very close. – Very close, we just gotta
work on your spot and– – You know, we’ll get there. – Are you sweating? – Yes, I’m sweating. – (laughs) I love it. – At what point did you think that you could possibly audition for NFL? Because you said nobody
was doing it as a guy. – Yeah, when I walked into the room and there’s like hundreds of girls there, I think the only thing I was nervous of was if I make it past the first round, then I felt the pressure of being one of the only two guys in the room– – Sure. – Doing it. – So they didn’t like say they were looking for
guys to join the team? But they had never had any
guys on the team before– – Correct. – But it’s an open
audition, anybody can go, so you thought well why not just try? – Yes, men have registered
for this audition, they just never showed up. So we were the first to
register and show up. – Gotcha. – I just thought like why not? I don’t really have anything to lose and I felt confident dancing. So next up is Progressional
Battements, aka high kicks. You wanna use the ground
to push your leg up. Cause you’re pushing off the ground. This is not, no, you wanna
go down (fingers snap), up, down (fingers snap), up. Are you nervous? – A little. – You’ll be fine, you’ll be great. Down, up (fingers snap),
pretty good (fingers snap). Down, push up, point your foot, down, up, down– (Tyler laughs) Watch your arms, watch
your arms, watch your arms. Okay, Nationals are tomorrow,
I hope you’re ready. – (hands clap) I don’t know
why I keep doing (hands clap). – Cheerleaders. – (laughs) That’s not what you do? – We clap (Tyler’s hands clap), but it’s not like very perky like that. – Okay. – In the cheer world there’s stuntmen– – Okay. – Who do like the flips, so when someone thinks of a cheerleader, they think of tossing girls in the air. We don’t do that. – Okay. – We’re all trained dancers. So in that aspect, there was no guy fully
integrated on a team at the time. So there’s now about 14 men– – [Tyler] Great. – On cheer teams in the league right now. So it’s a crazy thought to think that like you and you know, Quinton, he’s the other guy that
auditioned with me, that we all like kind of
did this together but yeah it’s a cool feeling.
– You busted the door open. – (Exhales) Poo. Do you know what side
you’re more flexible on? – No. – When you do the splits,
can you do the splits? – When I do the splits, no. – Well okay. – That? – Okay now put the other leg up front now. – Oh my god, when you do the splits. – When you, I mean some people are– – How are you not sweating? So clearly not everyone
that joins the team is like probably gonna be the number one football fan of all time, but do you love football? – Funny thing is, I do because– – You don’t have to lie to me (laughs). – No, no, no, I’m not
lie, I’m really saying. I like it more than basketball. – Sure. – Because it’s quicker and I think it’s a little
bit more violent (laughs). – Oh she loves that. – I love it. Open and shuffle. Step on your right. Cross your arms so you can do your leap and then you’re gonna open up this way. Eight and jump. (both laugh) – Am I supposed to look
that way or that way? – That way. – Okay cause I looked
at you and I was like, we were very close. – It’s all right, it’s all right. – Ha! – One and two and three and four. – (Laughs) Wait, it’s
a little fast for me. Holy macaroni. – Keep those kids up. (hands slapping) (Tyler exhaling) (both laugh) – Is it like that? Okay.
– Yes. One and two and three, go four. (both laughing) Cute! That’s a running kick!
– No, no no, no. Get it right.
– How vintage. – Bitch – (laughing) Hands down. – Oh sorry (laughs). Well then you show me
what you do, the jump. – One and two and three and four. (upbeat music) – So I feel like there’s like a lot of stereotypes not just from
movies about cheerleaders but also about male cheerleaders and what are some of the
things you have to deal with? – I feel like a stereotype is that we just like show up
and everything’s perfect. Like they don’t understand that we are constantly practicing
behind the scenes and– – It is a full on sport; it is a– – Yes. – You have to be an athlete and you have to be
professionally trained– – You have to know how to
speak, do live interviews, know how to do retakes– – Yeah. – Know how to interact
with children, adults. I think that’s one of
the common misconceptions is that we just like
show up for the game– – And like woo. – Like 20 minutes before the game starts, like we’re the first ones there while the paint is drying on the field, having practice and then
we’re the last ones to leave after everything clears out so. – It’s a full time commitment. – Yes sir. I think we should link all of the things you’ve learned together. – Obviously. – And one, two, three,
four, and five, kick six, seven, kick eight, step one,
drag two, three, prep four, single five, six and a seven, eight. Cute. – Kinda. – He knows the Choreo guys. Live.
– Yeah. Let’s do it again.
– Die. Die.
– Die. – That’s where I’m at, I’m drenched. – Wow, you really are. – I sweat, it’s a sign of a healthy body. – Five, six and left foot seven, yes, yes (hands clap), eight, yes! (Tyler screams)
Yes! – Yes.
(hands slapping) I’m a natural, kind of (laughs). – Kind of, he’s the cousin. – I’m the cousin of natural– – Of the all-star sister. – Thank you. – Yeah, watch those arms at the end. – Watch them do what? – They’re a little like wee. – Well that’s the point. – From here– – (laughs) What else are you trying to do? – You’re trying to book the gig (laughs). Yes.
– Got it. – Five keep going, going,
going, mirror (fingers snap). – That was kind of good.
(Napoleon clapping) I’d like to thank Napoleon,
the Academy, my sweat. – You’re really sweaty. – Bitch, I know. (both chuckle) There’s nothing I can–
– It’s the room, you guys, it’s the room. – So what was the Super Bowl like? – It was insane, the whole week
leading up to it was insane. It was amazing–
(Tyler laughs) Lots of Snicker ads everywhere– – Oh yeah? – Every second was a Snickers ad. Like looking up into like the dome, the ceiling like turns,
it’s like this big clock, it was wild. – So– – Yeah it’s the biggest stage ever and it was crazy taking the
field with like 42 teammates. We’re gonna do a little ditty right now. – Okay. – So for games, a lot of
people think cheerleader like you’re doing motions and
dancing and like screaming. We just do little sidelines and they’re dances you
can do to any music. – Okay great. – Wow okay. Standing ready, the
audience is just like– – They’re living for it. – All the way up there. They’re like, “Tyler, oh
my gosh I follow you.” – Hi. – So you’re gonna go,
we don’t say hi to them. You wave but you never address them. Five, six–
– Wow. – And you’re gonna step together, your arms are gonna repeat, two. Now add just a little bit
of a chest boom, boom. Down, down. Okay, funky boy. – Okay. – Okay, you’re gonna go three, four. Cock it on four, yeah, yeah. – Cock it? – Cock it like ch-ch. Crisscross and five. Slap your left arm away, six and look at it. It’s gonna go seven, break it
and drop to the knee, eight. – What? – I call it like the tour move. Like on tours the backup dancers
are always like ya, ya, ya. (both laughing) – Okay, okay. This is supposed to be
able to go with anything, anytime–
– Anything, yeah. – You need to fill some
space and kinda like– – Just like boogie, boogie through yes. Maybe not the running kick. But yeah.
– Oh that’s my go to now. – One, two. – Ah! – So you’re gonna slap, you’re gonna slap (hands
slapping) both your thighs. You come up one, two (hands slapping), pop it, three and back four. (Tyler laughs) Yeah? – Okay. – Turn and drag five,
clap six (hands clapping), clap seven (hands
clapping), punch it eight. (Tyler laughs) You know, if all else fails
just hit eight for me. Yeah?
– Okay, okay. – One, two, you pop three, four, (Tyler laughs)
drag it down, clap (hands clapping), boom, boom. – Sure. So are you doing this like routine and all these different routines and constant cheering the whole game? – Pretty much. – That’s exhausting (laughing). – It’s a lot of intense energy. I mean, walking into
the, like the Colosseum and the music and the
crowd and the fire and– – That is, yeah it’s intense. – We’re on the entire time,
we have to engage the crowd, we get them, you know, hyped up, and then we’re also turning
around watching the game, making sure we don’t get hit by players running off the field– – Right. – And then, you know, we dance twice, sometimes three times a game, rotate. Sometimes you’re standing
in the sun, you know, all the, all the things. – It’s a full obligation
like people really– – It’s pretty, yeah it’s a lot.
– Don’t give it the credit it needs. – You just wanna turn this inward, yeah. – What do you mean, like that? – So technically if you were
holding like a pom pom– – Oh. – And you went like that,
the pom would be out– – Oh. – But you want it to be a
clean line so you turn it in. – Word. – So little cinnamon, big cinnamon. – You wanna give them the big cinnamon? – You wanna give them the little cinnamon. – Oh. – They’re not worth the big one yet. – Got it. – Yes. – Got you, well I brought poms. – Really? – I did. I brought this for you. – Uh-huh. – And I brought these for me. I feel like a real Wildcat now. – They would have red poms. – Listen bitch okay, this
is all I could afford. This actually is nice cause it distracts when I’m fucking up. – You put your attention
and your fear in the pom. So you’re waving, yay. Go one, two, snake three, hit four and five, six, a seven and eight. (Tyler yelping)
Up one, two, pop three, four, drag five, six, seven, eight. – Whoo. – See your pom?
(Tyler laughing) Yup, yeah, yeah. Try to make your
movements like very crisp. – Yeah well I’m trying. – Try harder. – Where do I keep my arms? – So normally we’ll be clapping. Smile, so here we go.
(Tyler laughs) One, two snake three, watch your feet.
– Oh wait, wait, wait. Okay, wait, start over, start again. – Woo! – So much is changing
for queer representation. Can you talk about what it’s like to be out, proud and in a world where maybe there’s not a
lot of out, proud people? – Being out and proud
has always kind of been what it is for me ever since
like seventh grade really. But it’s cool to now
be on a bigger platform and get to inspire, not only dancers, but just younger kids– – Yeah. – And whatever generation you’re from. Pop it up two, three, four–
– Oh my god. – Five, six, seven, eight,
you’re almost there, cross your feet, boom boom,
yes, a seven and eight. Up one, two, three, finish strong, turn five, six, seven, eight. (both screaming) Yes, look at you. Boom. – We did it. – Oh, oh! – Holy macaroni. – Yeah. – And you do that. – Yes I do. – Without even thinking about it. – Nope. – Whew. So, (exhaling) how did I do?
– So. I would put you–
– Teacher. – Through the first round. – Really, don’t lie to me. You’re such a liar. – He’s cute though right. – First round complete. – Check. – Napoleon, from the bottom of
my heart, thank you so much. This was a lot harder than
I thought it was gonna be, but the most fun day I’ve
had in a long, long time, so thank you. – Of course. – You don’t only do cheer. You do not only do dance,
but you also do makeup. – Mm-hmm. – Where can people find you? – You can find me on Instagram, you can find me on the
YouTube at Napoleon. – Ooh, I’m gonna put all the links below, go subscribe–
– Ta-Dah! – Go follow, you’re gonna fall in love. If you like this video,
give it a thumbs up. Now that I’ve conquered cheer, what’s the next thing I should conquer? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you so much! I would hug you but I’m so disgusting.
– Yeah, don’t do that. Thanks for having me. – Of course. Bye friends.
– Bye.

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