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Oceana Magazine Spring 2009: Ocean Advocate: Tanna Frederick

An Iowa native, Tanna Frederick is an actress and an avid surfer. She received the Best Actress Award at the 2008 Fargo Film Festival for her role in Hollywood Dreams, and she recently joined forces with Oceana to organize Project Save Our Surf (S.O.S.), a surf-a-thon and gala in Santa Monica, California on April 5.

How did you get involved with Oceana?

I went to an Oceana gathering at Victoria Tennant and Kirk Stambler's house about three years ago. It was an instant fit. Oceana felt like home to me - everyone involved was incredibly elegant and inspiring and so wonderfully informed about Oceana and why they were supporting them. Oceana brings a familial atmosphere to one of the greatest environmental causes on a global scale - that's hard to come by, and I continue to be awed by the successes yet heart felt warmth of this incredible organization.

Have you always been interested in the oceans? Share a memory of when the ocean played an important role in your life.

I never saw an ocean until I was sixteen! Being landlocked in Iowa all we had were lakes. One Christmas we finally went to Texas. I remember my mom and dad pulling me out of the car, and standing there with my little brother and my mom and dad, just staring at this endless body of water. All of us sharing that moment, and staring at this vast, incomprehensible body of water, just hit me in a way I'll never forget. I had never felt so incredibly free and so incredibly little, but so incredibly aware that life was more magical than I thought it could be.

Are you a surfer yourself? Tell us about your most exciting/memorable surf.

I am a surfer. Every time I go out is memorable and more exciting than the last! That's the wonderful thing about the ocean - every time I'm in it I feel like I'm experiencing it for the first time!

I have to say, though, the most memorable moment was paddling out with my surfer buddy Alex Winston to this huge green buoy in front of Santa Monica pier. It was so far, it must have been a two mile paddle. We were new surfers so we didn't know it was kind of an overly ambitious thing to do every morning. When all the local surfer guys were staring at us like we were crazy, we didn't really register it and just though, ‘Oh, we're setting a good example and inspiring people!'.

For people who live near the coast, the ocean is a character in their day to day lives; but how can we convince people who maybe don't live near the beach to care about ocean conservation?

The ocean affects the entire ecosystem. Even in Iowa we were so sensitive to all of the factors affecting our environment. We had to be. That was what we relied on for most of our income - the land, the health of the land, and the health of the whole planet. Without seeing the ocean, as children, we were all cognizant that it had a great affect on our prosperity and every day survival. The ocean is one thing that everyone has access to. Even if you're in Minnesota - you know it's out there, you know you can eventually visit it, and you know you have to take care of it.

And working with the land and having families that worked the land, we were also aware that every little thing we did had an effect on the way things grew around us, and all felt that responsibility on our shoulders. Project S.O.S. is just an extension of the values I grew up with. I'm blessed enough to live near the ocean now, but we are garnering tons of support from all over - even from Iowa.

Tell us about Project: Save Our Surf.

Project S.O.S. was a Benefit for Oceana that was held in Santa Monica at Ocean Park on April 5th.  It was a six hour day surfing event for the community -  surfers, kids, parents, friends, family, with an evening Gala at night being held at Shutters at the Beach.  Shaun Tomson, a personal surf hero for me and I can safely say the majority of the surf community, was gracious enough to co-host this event, and by doing so we got some of the biggest surf legends involved - Peter ‘P.T.' Townend and Tom Curren - and an amazing Honorary Event Committee - Dennis Hopper, Jeff Garlin, Rosanna Arquette, Elliot Gould, Judd Nelson, Noah Wyle, Henry Jaglom.

The surf events were organized by Frank Caronna - with mural painting for children, contests, relays, performers, artists, auction items by Jeffery Dread and Felicity Nove and Henry Hopper...It really turned into this wonderful artistic day of people celebrating our oceans. It's pretty mind blowing what changes have occurred in the last year, the amount people are willing to give and the hope they are searching for and looking to build.  Working on this event has been incredibly eye opening in terms of where the world is at in terms of ecological conservation, and moving to watch people coming together for Oceana and embracing it's work and purposes.

What is the conservation message you hope people took away from Project: Save Our Surf and the gala?

I wanted people to walk away feeling good about themselves and feeling like they made a difference in improving our oceans, and realize conservation is incredibly accessible and doesn't necessarily equate to a financial sum, but by the hearts of the people who are involved, and by the intentions behind our actions.  I feel people who worked on this had a good time helping and having fun - and a there's great sense of teamwork and accessible pride.  With that attitude, it's already a success. 

What's next for you, in your career and your work with Oceana?

My film came out May 29th called Irene In Time, directed by the great indie film auteur Henry Jaglom.  Ironically enough it's about a girl who loves the ocean and greatest memories are sailing with her father - it's a film about the father and daughter bond and how that relationship affects women's choices throughout their lives.  Following that is a sequel of sorts to Hollywood Dreams co-starring Noah Wyle, and a wonderful comedy called Katie Q directed by Ron Vignone.  Then I'm all geared up to put the Second Annual Project Save Our Surf event into action.  And, of course, you'll see me in the sea every morning, surfing, but that's a given!