REVIEW: ‘Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story’ Is Essential Documentary Viewing

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Stay on Board The Leo Baker Story - But Why Tho

Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story is a Netflix Original documentary about Leo Baker, a professional skateboarder who was once the number one female skateboarder in the world, but over the course of the documentary, comes into his own, accepting how he wants to present in the world, what competitive skateboarding really means to him, and just how to live the most authentically he can.

Stay on Board is equal parts sports documentary and queer documentary. The film begins in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics as Leo competes for a spot on the U.S. women’s skateboarding team. It’s a super interesting look at how the sport went from a niche, derided street craft to a professionalized, celebrated sport. The film splices in interviews with a host of Leo’s friends, family, and contemporaries. Seeing a number of perspectives on skateboarding’s trajectory was fascinating, especially given those feelings are quite mixed.

The paralleling of Leo’s story of growing up, skateboarding with friends, competing to keep their family afloat financially, and getting discovered as a huge star alongside the story of the growth of professional women’s skateboarding sets this documentary apart from other skateboarding docs. His story is profound, and the way he’s able to personalize the history of the sport, given he was basically at its epicenter for most of his life, would turn anybody into an instant fan.

Like some of the best documentary stories, though, Leo had no idea where his time filming would take him. At the beginning of the movie, he’s only come out to his closest friends and family. They’ve all known him as Leo in private for years, but to the public, he’s still Lacey Baker. We watch as Leo’s personal and professional stories collide along his path towards coming out publicly, changing the pronouns he goes by, and making life-changing decisions around both his body and his skateboarding. In this way, it’s one of the most authentic, challenging documentary stories you can get.

And we’re lucky to have all those other perspectives following his journey too. When Leo’s stuck in his head about something or another, his friends, his girlfriend, or even his mother are able to show the audience where he’s coming from and how they’re supporting him through it. It’s Leo’s story through and through, but the fact that it’s shared with so many people important to him is heartening.

I’m not going to give away details on how this chapter in Leo’s story ends, but we all know that eventually the Tokyo Olympics were postponed and Covid hit, so obviously, this becomes a significant part of Leo’s story. When the film hits this part of the timeline, a monumental tonal shift takes place that launches the documentary into an entirely new level of essential viewing for both fans of sport and anybody interested in a queer story of self-discovery. It’s guaranteed to make you cry and process a whole host of emotions but ultimately leave you completely joyful.

Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story is a must-watch documentary made with great craft and featuring somebody whose story has so much to give its audience.

Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story is streaming now on Netflix.

Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10


Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story is a must-watch documentary made with great craft and featuring somebody whose story has so much to give its audience.

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