Tuesday, October 4, 2022 Oct 4, 2022
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Celebrities

How Roland Pollard Went Massively Viral Throwing His Daughter in the Air

The Plano native built a career out of cheerleading. We talked to him about doing stunts with his daughter, Jayden, Netflix's "Cheer," his approach on parenthood, and the real message he hopes to get across in his videos.
By Rachel Nguyen and | |Courtesy of Roland Pollard
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Courtesy of Roland Pollard

Roland Pollard spent much of his teen and college years cheering before going on to coach competitive cheerleading for 13 years and start a company that creates custom routine music for teams. During quarantine with his family in Frisco, he started stunting with his now 6-year-old daughter, Jayden, and posting videos on Instagram (677,000 followers) and TikTok (5.2 million).

Sponsorships followed, and now he has launched a podcast, Pursuit of Me. Pollard (here with Jayden, wife Stephanie, and son Jax) talks about life experiences, from his cheer background to growing his platform, sharing what he has learned about marketing and self improvement. “This is an outlet for me to connect with my followers,” Pollard says, “and they can understand who I really am.” —Rachel Nguyen

We chatted with Pollard about his cheer background, misconceptions about the sport, parenthood, changing narratives about Black men in America, and more. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

You were a body builder at Plano Senior High School when your history teacher asked you to join the cheerleading team. What made you fall in love with cheerleading? 

It’s an endless challenge. You can never have every single skill, like there’s no cap to any skill. You can always spin it one more time, flip it another time, connect another flip to it, throw a girl up, catch her on one arm, pop her over to the other, spin her over, spin her twice, make her spin three times—like there’s no end what you can do. The possibilities are endless. So cheerleading was the one sport that gave me a challenge that I could focus on, and I could never reach the end of it. 

Your routine music has been featured on Netflix’s Cheer. How has that show changed misconceptions about cheerleading?

Cheerleaders are superheroes, and with Cheer, if people haven’t seen it, that shows the real side. Yes, you can get hurt. Cheerleading is a dangerous sport. Cheerleading is super dangerous. Cheerleading takes a lot more strength and just ability than people realize. A lot more stamina. You have got to be in stellar shape for cheerleading. It’s not just pom poms, “rah rah, rah,” people jumping, doing splits.

When you started posting cheer stunting videos with your daughter at the beginning the pandemic, did you have any idea it would blow up like this? 

The goal was not to just blow up on social media because I didn’t have a following. I was doing that just to show my friends. Like, “Hey, y’all know how y’all said if I ever had a daughter, she was gonna be the best cheerleader ever? Look, she’s actually stunting with me now.”

In one of your most viral TikTok videos, which has almost 27 million views, you wrote “Was your dad present? Mine wasn’t and that’s why I’m so active in my daughter’s life.” Can you tell me more about that?

Growing up, my dad wasn’t present. So there was always a void that I had. And there are so many things that I could have learned had I had a father present. So now that I have the ability to be a present father, I’m taking full advantage of that. So people see my stunting with my daughter as I’m doing it for me, I’m putting my passion on her. I don’t care about cheerleading. I just know a lot about it. And it’s fun and we bond. And it’s not about the stunts, it’s about the talks we have during the stunts. It’s about what we learned about resilience, about not giving up about going again, about not crying when things get rough.

What do you want people to understand about your approach to fatherhood?

I just want to change the narrative of Black men in America, because, as you may have heard some time in your life, like people say, “Black men aren’t present in their children’s lives.” And I hate statistics. My parents were divorced. My dad was a Black father who wasn’t in my life. And I hate that it fits that narrative, but it just is what it is. But I’m not about to be that statistic. And that’s the basis of everything that I do.

You’ve gained a massive following by posting videos of you as a father with your kids. Do you think that helps in altering that narrative?

We have reached so many people. And whether they see my true intentions or not, I know that they see that I’m in my child’s life. I know that they see that there’s a Black man in America, loving his kids, giving the best for them, and just enjoying life as a business owner, you know, living freely.

Why did you start the podcast?

There’s a lot that people don’t know about me. They see that I’m in my daughter’s life, so people have built this emotional connection by me being vulnerable online and sharing my life with them. But they want to know how I got here. How did you get that house with the big ceilings? How did you get that fast car? How did you … whatever? So I started the podcast to clear up some unknowns, to let people know where I’m coming from, who I truly am. 

It’s tough having a young daughter in the public eye. Is there anything you wish people would stop saying about her?

One thing that I hate is people always say, “Oh, I can’t wait to see her in the Olympics. Oh, she’s gonna be in the Olympics one day. Oh, she she’s gonna be a gold [medalist].” Quit saying that. Don’t put all that pressure on her. Y’all are the ones who are saying that, not me. When people come to my page and see people talking about all that Olympian stuff, that is a narrative constructed by the audience. That is not our narrative. That is not our plan.

It’s interesting that you used “narrative,” considering your efforts to break out of pre-constructed narratives. How do you want your daughter’s story to be shaped?

I want her to know that she is in control of her own destiny and her own narrative. So if Jayden Pollard doesn’t want to do gymnastics and be an Olympian, Jayden Pollard doesn’t have to, even though that’s what the world thinks she’s going to be. 

Authors

Rachel Nguyen

Rachel Nguyen

Catherine Wendlandt

Catherine Wendlandt

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Catherine Wendlandt is the online associate editor for D Magazine’s Living and Home and Garden blogs, where she covers all…

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