Soundings: Season 4 Episode 11

Keala Kennelly

On the wave that made her, fighting for female representation, the Irons brothers, being invited to the Eddie, the dichotomy between freedom and conservatism, and the surf industry’s failures.

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Keala Kennelly grew up on Kauai in a geodesic dome built by her parents and began surfing at the age of five, a contemporary of the Irons brothers. Through the 1990s and early aughts, she was consistently ranked top ten on the World Tour and was the first woman to tow Teahupoo. She has since pursued successful careers in both acting and music. Kennelly’s life has been also defined by her pushing both physical and social limitations, from her fighting for women’s representation in heavy surf to her coming out during a time when that meant detrimental ramifications to her surfing career. In this episode, Kennelly talks with Jamie Brisick about being an early advocate for the LGBTQ+ surfing community, what it meant to be one of the few women in the lineup, how attitudes have changed, losing her sponsors, giving up her spot on tour to work as an actress for David Milch, fighting for equal pay, her invite to the Eddie, and her DJ career.

Produced by Jonathan Shifflett.
Music by Farmer Dave & the Wizards of the West.

Feature image by Tom Servais.