Latina Surfer and Creative Powerhouse Monica Medellin Tells All
Discover how this barrier-breaking woman is reshaping culture one wave at a time.
As part of our Latinx Heritage Month celebrations, we sat down with Latina surfer, producer, filmmaker, and all-around girl boss Monica Medellin to learn more about her inspiring story. Read on to get a sneak peek into her everyday life and discover how she celebrates her culture, her roots, and her gorgeous curls.
AURA: Hi, Monica! To start, we’d love to know: What does Latinx Heritage Month mean to you? How do you celebrate your heritage in your daily life?
Monica: Latinx Heritage Month is always a good reminder to honor and love where I come from. One of my favorite quotes is “I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.” I try to celebrate and honor my heritage every day by living unapologetically as myself. I am a daughter, a sister, a surfer, a business owner, a filmmaker — and I’m proudly Latina!
AURA: Who is your biggest inspiration? And why?
Monica: I come from a long line of strong, independent women and my mom is one of my biggest inspirations. She is an immigrant from Mexico, a single parent, and a public school teacher who worked hard to make ends meet. Her first job after immigrating to this country was assembling factory parts in East Los Angeles, where she worked with her sisters. Growing up, I remember her balancing work and school to earn her teaching credential. She taught in LA’s underserved communities for over 10 years after that. My mom is my ultimate role model and raised me to be the multi-dimensional woman I am today.
AURA: What an incredible story! How did your upbringing shape you into who you are today? When or how did you know that surfing was going to be your thing?
Monica: My upbringing in sports shaped me from a young age, and I feel lucky to have discovered my passions early on. I’ve been an athlete since I was a little girl, but surfing was not an obvious choice for me. My mom always made sure I had access to every opportunity for success.
She sought out scholarships to sports camps and afterschool programs through the City of Santa Monica, which is where we lived. It started with gymnastics and volleyball — and then I discovered surfing. I fell in love immediately and was doing headstands on my board by the time I was 12. I’ve been a surfer girl ever since.
AURA: How has your surfing career evolved since then?
Monica: In 2017, I co-founded a creative collective called The Gnar Gnar Honeys, whose mission was to fill the gap in female representation in action sports content. I am now the founder of Waves Made Media, a production company dedicated to expanding narratives around women, and people of color in sports through media, including film, TV, and branded content.
AURA: We love that you’ve paved the way for other WOC in the surf and creative world. If you could give one piece of advice to any young trailblazers, what would it be?
Monica: Be who you are — not what you think other people want you to be — and lean into it! Don’t be afraid to take up space and share your unique perspectives.
AURA: That is great advice. Do you have a favorite Latinx creator that everyone needs to check out?
Monica: My sister, Alejandra Campoverdi! She is currently writing a book called The First & Onlys, in which she explores the emotional toll of being “first generation” through her experience as a Latina who went from being on welfare as a child to attending Harvard and later serving as a White House aide to President Obama.
AURA: Wow! You have an impressive family. As a director, producer, and certified surfer extraordinaire we want to know — how do you juggle it all?
Monica: Listening to my body. Running a business can become a 24/7 routine, but after experiencing burnout, I prioritize taking time out of each day for myself. Whether it’s making time for a surf session, getting a quick workout in, or drinking a matcha latte in my silk robe, my creativity stretches when I care for myself in between.
AURA: What is your daily hair routine like?
Monica: When I was younger I actually hated my curly hair. Looking back now, it’s no surprise because in the early 2000s the most popular hairstyle was glossy and pin straight. I didn’t see myself reflected in this trend, but as a teen, I wanted to fit in. I would spend hours in the bathroom perfecting the look. I even cut my own bangs, which did not go over well!
Now, I couldn’t be more in love with my curls. Surfing has taught me to embrace my natural hair! I spend a lot of time in the ocean, so between the saltwater sessions, I make sure to give my hair the TLC it deserves.
I shampoo my hair most days and pair it with a heavier clarifying shampoo once a month. When I condition, I use my fingers or a wet brush to detangle with the conditioner first, then rinse. I carry a reusable water jug and spray bottle in my Jeep so that post surf, I can drench my hair and add leave-in conditioner for the drive home. I always use lots of water with my products: this is key for the curls!
AURA: What is the best beauty tip you’ve ever received?
Monica: My curly hair specialist, Andrea Mororo, once said: ENJOY Your Curls and Let them be FREE!
AURA: What is your favorite AURA product?
Monica: I love the Masque because it replenishes my curls after salty days at the beach.
AURA: What goals are featured in your AURA Ritual?
Monica: Enhance Curls is my main focus, and overall, having bouncy, beautiful mermaid hair is my long-term goal!
AURA: At AURA we believe that hair is powerful and personalized beauty can lead you toward endless possibilities. What makes you believe in endless possibilities?
Monica: Catching an amazing wave on a warm, sunny afternoon surrounded by inspiring women I am lucky to call my friends.
After this inspiring chat, we are ready to chase some waves and embrace our natural beauty. We can’t thank Monica enough for sharing her story with us and revitalizing our spirits. To keep up to date with her latest endeavors, make sure to follow her on Instagram at @monicamedellin_. You haven’t seen the last of her yet!
And stay tuned to @aurahaircare for more Latinx Heritage Month content as we explore this rich culture!