Special to Page 2
Hawaii native Malia Jones has been surfing since before she could walk. At 15, she won the U.S. Amateur Championship and now, at 24, she travels all over the world doing surf shows and searching for the perfect wave.
Earlier this year, Disney producers asked her to be a special consultant on the animated feature "Lilo and Stitch." Fresh off that gig, Page 2's Eric Neel asked her to sit for 10 Burning Questions on life on the water and in front of the camera.
1. Page 2: How did you end up promoting "Lilo and Stitch"?
Malia Jones: I guess I represent the character, Lilo. They have a spokesperson for every Disney movie, like they had Michelle Kwan for "Mulan" and Tony Hawk's moves inspired the moves for "Tarzan." I got to consult on the animated surfing sequences.
What's the hardest thing to get right in a surfing movie?
Jones: So many of them are stereotypical. So many of them are like, "Duuuude."
Being from Hawaii, you think of surfing as a lifestyle. It's part of your day, it's something you can enjoy with your family and your friends. It's about the feeling that you get when you catch a wave.
What's the best surfing movie you've seen?
Jones: Surf videos made by surfers are the best. Most surfing movies made by Hollywood, you just watch them to laugh at them.
Jones: I was raised in a surfing family. My mom and dad surfed, my brothers surf, my husband's a professional surfer. Some people have baseball practice. Some people go the ballet. In Hawaii, you just go to the beach and surf.
Can you remember the first time you surfed?
Jones: I don't actually remember the first time I stood up. I remember I was on the front of my dad's board when I started. After that, you have a little board and you just paddle around, and eventually you start riding on your own.
Did you have surfing heroes coming up?
Jones: Yeah, but I mean, they were just the people surfing at the spots near where I lived. I just wanted to do what they did. To see them out in the water every day was totally inspiring and, you know, you'd hear about their stories of traveling and you'd want to go too.
3. Has surfing taken you pretty much all over the world?
Jones: Yeah, it's crazy how many places have waves to ride.
What's the strangest place you've surfed?
Jones: The Maldives Islands off India -- that was pretty remote.
How would you describe your surfing style?
Jones: Just fun. I don't necessarily need to go out to the best spot. I just like to find some place with open waves and just kick around with my friends.
Jones: It's really come a long way in the past five years. When I started, there was just a handful of girls, and when you traveled you might not face any other women. Now, no matter where you go, there's at least a couple of other girls in the water.
What's the difference between men's and women's surfing?
Jones: Guys are definitely stronger, and I don't think girls will ever surf like guys, but I think the difference is that women are more graceful. When there's a pack of guys in the water, they're kind of gnarly, you know, very aggressive and always trying to get the most waves and the best waves that they can. When a girl comes out, it kind of mellows everybody out a little.
Do the guys give women respect?
Jones: If you're a girl and you're going out surfing, you have to earn it. Just because you're a girl doesn't mean you can just drop in on people. Growing up in Hawaii, there were some spots where the guys definitely pushed me, you know, but after a while, they gave me room and now they take care of me like a sister.
5. What's the best thing about the way surfing's popularity has grown these last five years?
Jones: The best thing is that it's gotten respect as something more than a "loser's" sport. It's really appreciated now. It's always been appreciated here in Hawaii, but now people respect it as the beautiful sport that it is. I don't think anything compares to surfing. You know, you're out in the water and at these beautiful beaches ... I mean, people who surf are really happy.
It's always seemed that way.
Jones: Yeah, you know, it's not just Hawaii, either, people around the world try it and they get addicted. There's something behind it.
Jones: Yeah, they balance each other out.
Are you an athlete or a model first?
Jones: I don't know; I don't stereotype my life, I just do whatever makes me happy. If I didn't like to model, I wouldn't do it, but it's definitely taken me to some amazing places around the world and it's made me appreciate coming home to Hawaii, too.
7. You were at the ESPN Sports and Music Awards earlier this year, right? What's the connection between surfing and music? Why is punk, for example, such a good fit for surfing?
8. If you could invite any three people from throughout history to dinner tonight, who would you invite?
Jones: Let me see ... that would probably be Madonna and ... who else would be fun? ... oh, Prince, just because if it's gonna get kinky, you've got to have them both, I think, don't you?
Jones: So, Madonna, Prince ... one more ... how about Brigitte Bardot?
9. Sweet, sounds like a fine meal. In your mind, what's the biggest misconception most people have about surfing?
Jones: That surfers don't do anything except surf, that surfers aren't educated, that surfing is all they know. I mean, surfing might be something that they think about a lot, like even all day long
Jones: Me? I have to, we're talking about it, right? But surfers are more than surfers -- they're artists and photographers, they live all over the world, they have all kinds of talents.
10. If you could drop down anywhere in the world tomorrow and spend the afternoon surfing, where would you choose to go?
Jones: I'd probably go to France.
Jones: Yeah, it's probably one of my favorite places. It doesn't get dark too early; you can stay on the water till like 10:30 and it's really nice and there's lots of beach without too many people and then you come in and there's, you know, everything else