Dylan Morton’s Journey From the Roller Rink to Disney Channel

Sharing his passion for roller skating brought this lifelong Cincinnatian a whole new career.
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PHOTO BY DEVYN GLISTA

“Obviously, it’s really hard to be mad on roller skates,” says Dylan Morton. “It gives people a release that you can’t really find anywhere else … it’s just so joyful to skate.”

Morton first started roller skating at the age of 9, when his mom took him to a roller rink for the very first time. “I really didn’t want to [go at first],” he says. “But it was one of those moments as a kid [where] once I went one time, I just wanted to keep going. I saw progress right away.” From then on, Morton spent two or three nights a week at the rink until he graduated high school. It wasn’t until after graduation, when he moved to Los Angeles, that he started looking at roller skating as a career. “When I went to L.A., I realized [skating] was more than just a hobby,” he says. “I made a video with a couple different skate influencers at the time, and ended up booking a finale live show performance for one of the contestants [on The Voice]. That’s when I was like, I can make something out of this.” As his social platform grew, brands like Canon and Riedell began taking notice. Then Disney came knocking.

A choreographer for Saturdays, a Disney Channel comedy about roller skating, hired Morton for the show’s pilot episode. After the pilot was picked up, Morton booked three roles in the first season of Saturdays: as an assistant choreographer, a skater, and a double. “That’s when I really was like, This might be life-changing,” Morton says. “And it was.”

After Saturdays, social media launched the 22-year-old toward even more unique opportunities, from performing at the AMAs with P!nk to filming a K-Pop music video in South Korea.

This path was never something Morton imagined happening. “I got Instagram when I was 13 and I’ve always just posted skating. I never got Instagram to get followers. I got Instagram because I wanted to post,” he says. “To be able to be a professional roller skater is unimaginable. Since I was a kid, I wanted to do it, but I didn’t know how it was going to [happen]. For it to be here 10, 12 years later is crazy. But it’s a blessing, for sure, to be able to do what I do on a professional level.”

Still, not everyone in the skating community has been receptive to Morton’s style. “Being somebody who performs and travels and makes money from [skating], you get a lot of hate from the rink skaters,” he says. “Roller skating will always be my hobby, but I can still commercialize it. Having a following changes the way I go about living my life…but I wouldn’t trade it for the world, honestly, because to have the ability to influence people in a positive way—it’s just something I can’t take for granted.”

For now, Morton’s main focus is teaching roller skating. He currently works at the Over-the-Rhine Community Center and even travels to teach. “I wanted people to see that there was a community space where people could roller skate for $25 a year and skate five days out of the week,” he says. “The OTR rink is such a hidden icon, so to be able to teach lessons there, to bring it more awareness and to give it more of the love that it deserves, is a benefit.”

Morton has also helped propel Skate Downtown Cincy, a community-led initiative started by Morgan Rigaud, to new heights. The organization promotes skating programs and facilities in Cincinnati and hosts free skating events and workshops.

As a lifelong Cincinnatian, Morton believes his journey wouldn’t be the same without the city. “What I was able to learn as a human through living in Cincinnati helped shape me as a skater because I really had to grow to be resilient,” he says. “I don’t think I would have the same character traits. I wouldn’t live life the same way I live it now.”

Morton also says the skating community in Cincinnati differs from other skating communities nationwide. “We have four or five different styles in our one city, and so we’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from a lot of different places … but if you ever come to a Cincinnati rink, you will see every single one of those styles at one given time. I think that’s the beauty of Cincinnati—it’s a melting pot of diversity,” he says.

Up next for Morton is a world tour this fall, during which he will teach lessons and workshops in more than a dozen different cities around the globe. One of the final stops is Cincinnati. “Cincinnati is so special to me,” he says. “It’s home. It always has been and always will be.”

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