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Tawni Mychaels

Cooler waves

A beautiful surfer girl, born and raised in Hawaii, moves away to a glamorous new life in New Jersey.

New Jersey?

It sounds like the plot of a campy TV movie. "Gidget Goes Establishment." But this story is true. It's the story of Tawni Mychaels.

As a little girl in the Aloha State, she learned to ride the waves and speak several Asian and European languages. (Hawaii is where paradise meets the melting pot.) Sports were her passion, and she didn't consider herself very feminine. "The last thing I wanted to be was a model."

Tawni Mychaels
Photos courtesy of Tawni Mychaels
Tawni Mychaels
But her father insisted. "He told me I needed to start acting like a girl." And once he coaxed her into modeling, she found that she liked being looked at. Almost as much as people liked looking.

Within a few years, she had her own TV show in the islands. "It was a local surf and sports show," Ms. Mychaels says. Sometimes she went on camera in a swimsuit and played volleyball in the sand. Sometimes she put on a wetsuit and dived into the warm tropical waters. All in a day's work.

Tawni MychaelsOnly something very important could lure a girl away from that kind of life. In Ms. Mychaels' case, it took the Venus Swimwear International Model Search. In 1997, she represented Hawaii at the event, which was held in Florida. And when the folks there got a look at her, the mainland modeling offers started pouring in.
There was no going back.

Today she lives in northern New Jersey, outside New York. It's the land of the chilly surf and the hot opportunities. She's still modeling, of course, but also now "getting seriously into acting." She has a recurring part as a waitress on "All My Children." More roles are in the offing.

She misses Hawaii, especially in winter. But she has things to keep her busy. Private acting lessons. "Karate and Brazilian jujitsu for my mind. Kickboxing for my body." And she's in love.

She also designs clothes. Her fashion line is called Tawni Mychaels Designs, which you really should be able to remember. But she plans to rename it "Grounded." She says that's a reminder to herself not to let all the good fortune go to her head. Even today, Ms. Mychaels insists, she's not a "girlie girl." She's still a mischievous little Honolulu tomboy at heart.

"I'd rather work on cars than get my hair done," she says. "I don't mind a little grease under my fingernails."

For anybody but Tawni Mychaels, that would be a little too grounded.

Tawni Mychaels
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