Shayla, the etnies Girl of the Month, describes herself as “the ultimate Cali girl.” The 19-year-old Long Beach, Calif., native is getting her first taste of winter weather as a freshman at Pace University in New York City, where she is majoring in English with a concentration in Language and Literature, and pursuing a minor in Law. Shayla first caught our eye at Seventeen magazine’s “17 Style Groove” event featuring Ashanti at the Virgin Mega Store Union Square in Manhattan. We later caught up with her to talk about learning how to surf, what inspires her and the best piece of advice she’s ever received.
etnies Girl: So, Shayla, what are your interests?
Shayla: My many interests include fashion and design, surfing, body boarding, film and music.
etnies Girl: What are your talents?
Shayla: I’m a lot more compassionate than a lot of people I know, and I’m really good at conveying my own feelings. I think that’s kind of a talent, because a lot of people can’t do that.
etnies Girl: How did you get involved in surfing?
Shayla: I learned how to surf a few summers ago after meeting people who knew how to surf at various beaches in Orange County, Calif. It looked so fun, and I was not very active, so I figured that surfing would be a great way for me to begin to be more active. Plus, I love the beach—I used to go all the time after work. I began with body boarding and then moved on to surfing. It was hard and at times scary; however, a few scratches, bruises and gallons of water swallowed were not reason enough for me to quit! Since I live in New York City now, I want to start skateboarding. I plan to start soon.
etnies Girl: What do you like about etnies Girl?
Shayla: It’s really cute. I like stuff that’s comfortable, that I can just throw on with a miniskirt and go. etnies has cute shoes, and they also have shoes I could skate in. I love the “Tattoo” tee and tank tops. There are cute hats, too, and I like the bags.
etnies Girl: Why are you an etnies Girl?
Shayla: I think that I’m an etnies Girl because I’m very outgoing and I’m not afraid to try things. Despite how dangerous and difficult it is, I continue to surf when I go home on vacation from school because I believe it creates character, the ability to work hard and requires a profuse amount of dedication and fearlessness. I’m also pretty driven, and I’m into the whole surf/skate lifestyle. I think that etnies are for the girl who can hangout with the boys and still look cute. That’s me!
etnies Girl: What do you do for fun?
Shayla: I like to shop, write and take pictures. At night, I like to go dancing. I like to go to the movie theater—I go to the movies every week—and in New York I like going to comedy clubs. I pretty much just like hanging out, watching TV and funny movies. I’m not necessarily a homebody, but unless I’m at the beach or at the mall, I usually like to be at home!
etnies Girl: Where do you find inspiration?
Shayla: My inspiration comes from watching people who are very driven and very ambitious, especially when they have obstacles in their way. I like to overcome things—it makes me feel good. I don’t think that it would be very wise to look up to a certain person just because they look nice, or whatever. I want to model my life after people who have done things—good things—and I want to do good things with my life. Bethany Hamilton inspires me, because when I first got into surfing, I got into a surfing accident, and I was scared to get into the water again. And then I was reading in a magazine about Bethany, and they were talking about how this girl gets her arm bitten off, and she’s still surfing! As soon as she can, she’s back in the water. And I was like, wow, I didn’t want to get into the water because I got hit in the head by a surfboard, and this girl gets her arm bitten off. It really made me take a good look at myself, and see that I was afraid for nothing. It can always be worse, and you can make the best of what you have.
etnies Girl: You don’t often see a lot of African American surfers in the water. Did you feel like you fit in, or did you feel awkward when you were first starting out?
Shayla: No, not really, only because I’ve always been pretty much the only African American in my crowd. No one ever said anything to me, or looked at me differently. A lot of people who I surf with, they were people from my job, so I was just one of the girls, you know? The only time that I feel insecure or awkward is around other African American people who don’t feel that I’m being “black enough,” because I don’t listen to hip hop, or because I would go to the beach instead of, I don’t know, going to a 50 Cent concert. I don’t know—that’s just who I am. I like being around people who are like me, and I learned the hard way that you have to be yourself. I tried doing other things, and tried to be something that I wasn’t, and it just didn’t work for me. So, I’d rather just be around people who are like me, whether they’re black, white, et cetera.
etnies Girl: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten?
Shayla: After I graduated from high school, I took a year off from school because my family didn’t want me to leave. I stayed at home, but I knew that there was more in the world than just Long Beach—I wanted to go see the world. Finally, my mom said, “Do what makes you happy.” When I got to school, I couldn’t believe that I had wasted a year of my life sitting at home feeling sorry for myself so I could please my family, when I should just please myself. So that’s when my whole attitude changed: I’m going to do what makes me happy, and I’m not going to worry about what other people think. My mom had told me that for a long time, but it wasn’t until I finally got it that I became happy with myself and became a happier person overall.
etnies Girl: What’s really important to you?
Shayla: My mom is really, really important to me, because I feel like there’s really no one else in my life that cares about me the way she does, or supports me the way that she does. It’s my love for her that inspires me to go and get an education, to work hard to get good grades, to want to go to law school, to do everything that I want to do. I’m just preparing myself for being successful when I’m older and being able to take care of her. That’s what’s most important to me. I’m looking forward to being able to give back to her for everything she’s done for me.
etnies Girl: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?
Shayla: I’m a goofball! If you hang out with me, you’ll have loads of fun laughing at me and all of the silly things that I do.
Shayla's Favorite Things
Place: “My room at home. There’s really no place like home, and I really did not know that until I left! Before, it was a tie between the beach and the mall.”
Animal: “Dolphins. I love them. I used to love listening to the stories about how sailors would think they were mermaids because if they fell off the ship, dolphins would save them. They’re so smart and they’re so cute. They’re the best animal ever.”
Hangout: The Boogie in Orange County, Calif.
City: “Malibu—it’s so beautiful.”
Song: “It always changes, but my favorite song right now is ‘A Decade Under the Influence’ by Taking Back Sunday. I love that song so much.”
Band: “I love The Starting Line, Blink 182, Dashboard Confessional, The Used, The Vines, Hot Hot Heat, Punchline, Taking Back Sunday, Trapt, New Found Glory, The Strokes. I love so many bands, it’s ridiculous! I have everyone’s CD.”
Book: “Motherless Brooklyn,” by Jonathan Lethem
TV show: “Sex and the City”
Game: “Super Mario for Nintendo. It’s the best game ever!”
Food: “Steak! I love steak so much; I could eat it every single night.”
Candy: “Milk Almond by See’s Candy. I eat about a pound a week!”
Smell: “I like the way that it smells on a clear day, right after it rains. It’s so fresh, and you can smell the flowers.”
Hobby: “I love listening to music and writing little songs.”
Guilty pleasure: “I eat way too much pasta! I know it’s going to catch up with me someday, but I can eat an entire pot of pasta by myself.”
Hero: “This is so cheesy, but, again, my mom. I love my mom so much.”
etnies shoe: “I really like the Trixie. They are so adorable!”
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