Original Rollergirl Heather Graham is back on wheels to become a TikTok roller girl and she's giving EW a behind-the-scenes peek. Plus, viral skating sensation Ana Coto tells EW why Graham's role in Boogie Nights inspired her.

By Omar Sanchez
September 08, 2020 at 03:00 PM EDT
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Heather Graham is at her best friend's house in Portland, Maine, lacing up the shoes that catapulted her to fame: roller skates. The Boogie Nights actress is getting ready for her TikTok debut as a roller girl, inspired by Graham’s iconic character from the 1997 film. There’s just one problem: she needs a director.

The first time around, she had a San Fernando Valley up-and-comer by the name of Paul Thomas Anderson to capture the breezy, carefree vibes that emanated from the stylish adult film star on wheels, Brandy a.k.a. Rollergirl. This time, Graham is going to have to settle for her boyfriend. Self-timer, be damned. 

"During the quarantine, there's been these girls on Instagram that have been roller skating," Graham explains to EW before the debut of her roller girl TikTok @imheathergraham, which you can get an exclusive preview of above. "I just look at these girls and they're having such a great time. They made me feel like, 'That's so fun! I have to teach myself how to rollerskate again.'"

Graham can’t get enough of TikTok in 2020. The Love, Guaranteed actress names some of her favorite roller girls of the quarantine — that includes Ana Coto, the Oujia actress and social media influencer who has amassed more than 40 million likes from her TikToks. In one bite-size video, Coto glides through a sun-kissed Los Angeles street while Fleetwood Mac plays in the background. Graham tells EW she’s jealous of how Coto can skate backward without falling. Graham’s fallen a few times, but the YouTube tutorials she’s watching haven't led her astray yet, she says.

“I’m pretty proud I can go forward without killing myself after all this time,” Graham concedes. 

Everett Collection

Graham is returning to skating right on time. Coto, who spoke with EW before Graham’s TikTok debut, has been riding a roller skating revival wave since the pandemic began, when skates from brands like Impala (which Graham is wearing in the new video) were reportedly selling out. In July, a Vogue headline read: "There's a worldwide shortage of roller skates." 

The possible fuel for the rising popularity of roller skating: Tiktok's roller girls. Coto is cited in the Vogue article as an influence. She was also featured in The New York Times. One of her TikTok roller dances is even in the videogame Fortnite. 

“I see that they're really selling that carefree California vibe,” Candice Heiden, a co-founder of L.A. Roller Girls Entertainment, L.A.’s largest hub of roller girls, tells EW of the rise of TikTok roller girls. 

People are eating up the roller girl lifestyle right now because it's the vibe we’re craving during this drowsy pandemic, according to Heiden. “You’re putting on cute outfits. You’re dancing around with great music. The girls are cute. It's a quintessential type of vibe,” Heiden says. 

Coto can’t thank Graham’s role as Rollergirl enough for exposing her to that quintessential vibe. Coto often posts tutorials for her fans that are empowering, asking her followers to be in control of their beauty. “Heather was the first time I saw roller skating as sexy,” Coto says. 

Graham’s movie character is also multi-dimensional. Rollergirl struggles to focus in high school as guys fetishize her from the other side of the classroom, as one specific scene in the film depicts. Rollergirl storms off in that moment. We wouldn’t see her again in a classroom until the very end of the movie, when she’s taking a GED class to get her degree. 

“I totally relate to being so sad and just needing my skates and saying “No, I'm not going to take them off,” Coto says. 

Before the interview, EW asked Coto to watch Graham’s first TikTok for initial thoughts. “I think she looks so amazing. I loved the hair flip,” Coto says. “You can tell that her boyfriend did a really good job [with the camera] because it was pretty smooth.” 

Looks like Graham's found her next PTA. 

You can watch Graham in Netflix’s new romantic comedy Love, Guaranteed out now. 

And check out her return to Rollergirl on her brand new TikTok account.

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