Maria Cerda / Cori Schumacher

This rad shot really celebrates Reality. It gives us a hint of the freedom, creativity and oneness with the elements, that one can achieve when not occupied with self-monitoring. This is what beauty looks like. This is the essence of longboarding.

Maria Cerda, USA

Maria Cerda started surfing at about 15, but had always been an ocean kid and athlete. She competed in the HBHS surf team, never liked competing against her friends and simply decided to stop- and never competed since.
Maria fell in love with surfing and photography in High School and into community college. After putting herself through the first year of college, she wanted to see the world, and became a flight attendant at 21. However, Maria went back to school and took every class on photography there was, as well as some digital media studies.
"I got very lucky and worked in the Celebrity Fashion world for 10 years, as a celebrity photographer and photo editor. I quit Hollywood because I really did not like living in L.A., and instead I became a Hair Stylist about 5 years ago and am now the owner/stylist of M Sea Salon in Encinitas, CA. Now I can be creative with hair, photo and surf cleaner, beautiful beaches.
I grew up in Anglo, conservative Huntington Beach, being one of the few (if any) Mexican girls to surf in my neighborhood. I didn’t even understand these boring gender binaries until high school. I spoke both Spanish and English, which was tough growing up in Orange County; being different -and god forbid- saying a single wrong word.
I love now that I grew up with Mexican culture since America tries to homogenize people. I would always hear subtle racist jokes, which I never confronted, but that really made me aware to not treat others that way. Since I didn’t fit into any social norm, I created my own path. I listened to my mom’s advice to always be independent, because you will always make yourself happy and have a way out.
When I was 21, I thought I was going to die in a plane crash, but survived a bumpy landing instead. I told myself prior to landing, that life is short and that I would never lie to myself again. I owned the fact that I was a unique, in-between latin woman, attracted to women and I became free again.
It gave me the courage to speak my mind and educate myself and other people nicely when they made ignorant comments about my race, gender or sexuality.
We don’t have to conform to any box. Surfing is my ocean therapy. I love that the ocean doesn’t discriminate, humbles me and is constantly changing."
When and why did you get in to photography?
“My brother was a pro skateboarder and wanted me to film him skating, so I transformed those skills into photography when I was in High School. I was a shy, athletic, misfit kid that didn’t talk much, so photography was a creative outlet that helped me process my feelings. I did NOT like being the center of attention, but liked being behind the lens. I also got into photography because it helped me not forget the beauty and reality that surrounds me every day; if I just took a moment to really open my eyes, feel it and try to capture it, even if just a memory.”
What made you get in to action, extreme or adventure sports?
“My brother Jose was a pro skateboarder, so he pushed my limits regardless of my gender. He showed me how to skate like I was surfing, and helped get rid of some of my fears.
‘Don’t tell mom’ was my whole childhood. I am surprised my knees are still attached and working. His surf buddies gave him a surfboard that I took over, and self taught myself how to surf by trial, error and by watching. My brother and my wife Cori Schumacher have inspired me to always push further. Surfing the constantly changing ocean is my favorite, but I love being outside whether it’ swimming, rock climbing or hiking. Surfing gives me mental clarity even when it’s not so peaceful.”
What’s your worst/best/most intense moment related to action sports?
“Hawaii- intensiveness going out on a overhead day, seeing the sky go dark because of the huge blue wave in front of me. It slammed me so hard, I had no idea which way was up for a few turns. I kept telling myself to relax, stay calm and wait to feel yourself float up. Mind you, I had no breath left, but somehow made it to the surface and got out immediately to catch my breath.
Also seeing a baby reef shark swim towards me in Kaui. I lucky caught a wave immediately in and stayed out of its territory, for a day.”
What/Who is you favorite initiative, project, professional, leader, athlete or brand in the action sports sphere?
“Cori Schumacher, The Inspire Initiative, because she is an intellectual advocate for gender equality in surfing.”


What do you think of the lack of role models for girls and women in male dominated areas?
“I think both men and women need to be better role models for each other, same gender or not. Too much competition breeds too much hierarchy and insecurities that doesn’t allow the the community to grow; just one individual to receive a trophy. Women are afraid to look too masculine and men afraid to look to feminine, which adds nothing to the sport, but marketing. The solution is women educating themselves, taking back their own power, listening to their own voices, have their voices be heard, being direct, initiate change, owning who they really are, asking for help, asking questions, helping others. We need to build a diverse community to bring social change and break negative stereotypes.”


How do you see women evolving in the action sports scene?
“I hope women support/mentor each other as a community, not as competitors. Show empowering women, making change within their sport community and improving the whole environment it's involved in. Less toxic clothing and things produced, and more focus on the athletes diverse stories.”
What are your hopes for the future of the industry?
“I hope that the industries would look at all the waste they are attributing/producing and try to reduce it. Also, to actually give back to the communities where they take from, to let others not regret they were there, like Patagonia. Bring jobs back to the USA. I would hope for more of the attitude that playing sports is a way to build a community of friends, and not to win trophies or make money.Gender equality. “


What is the number one preconception or prejudice people have about you?
“So many since I don’t fit into any box… ‘You’re gay/Mexican, but you don’t look gay/Mexican’. I always follow by: ‘What does that look like to you then?’ They catch their ignorance.
Another preconseption is not being smart or being under-estimated… maybe from being a woman of color (Cori said it was because I am pretty and nice though) When I share my views and facts though, they stand speechless. 
I could go on and on, but I will not.”
Do you have a feature or body part that you have been self-conscious about? Do you think low self-esteem in girls and stereotypes in media are connected?
“I did feel self-conscious in high school, but as an adult, I own that this is my unique body and I might as well like it, since it’s mine.
Of course media brings low self-esteem, slight racism, gender bias, stereotypes. When all we have seen on TV are anglo pretty perfect people and men being the dominant hero person, we start to believe it, even if it’s unconscious. All these stereotypes need to be broken down by showing how diverse people are, even within their own community. Mind you, there are some similarities that are true, but that still does not apply to everyone. I am a hairstylist and I come across many insecurities with people, but I tell especially the teens that what you look like is like putting on a good pair of jeans, you will find some that fit, and you go on with your learnings and evolve. Pretty fades, so try working on what matters, like being educated, being an advocate and a secure woman.”


Is there a difference in how women and men are portrayed in the action sports industry?
Women are blonde, beautiful, hetero, modeling shows, and can’t look like strong athletes. Men are hetero strong spectacles, like Spartan warriors killing each other to be the best. Some of the effects are women having eating disorders to stay thin, then can not perform as athletes, just as models. And men have to ‘Man up’ to a macho image, objectifying and sexualizing women to make themselves feel better.”


What would you say to people who want to get in to action sports, but think they might not fit in?
“There is no norm. Always go into something as if nobody is watching. It’s you against you. Balance your action sport life with building your education, connect with people, mentor others, pay it forward and cherish environmental responsibilities.”

Cori Schumacher, USA

Cori was born in Huntington Beach, California. Both her parents loved to surf and met in the water at Newport River Jetties in the mid-1970s. Schumacher's mother surfed pregnant with her until she was 8 months along, shifting from a surfboard to a mat when paddling on a board became too difficult.
Cori began surfing competitively when she was only 8 years old. Since then, she has won multiple national and international amateur shortboarding titles. She was the #1 US female shortboarder on the 1994 and 1996 US Team for the ISA Jr. Championships and won the 1995 Pan-American Championships.
She is also a three-time Women's World Longboard Champion,  a Women's Longboard Pipeline Pro Champion, and two-time ASP North American Champion .
From late 2001 to 2005, Schumacher went on sabbatical from competition, surfing in only two events from 2005 to 2007. She returned officially to longboard competition in 2008 to win the Linda Benson Roxy Jam at Cardiff, California.
She ceased competing altogether after boycotting the ASP World Tour in 2011.
When Schumacher returned to competition after her sabbatical, she refused sponsorship or even brand ambassadorship in general, intentionally bucking a trend entrenched in many sports
she says:
"in order to have the freedom to speak my mind on social issues, such as persistent gender disparity, homophobia, the impacts of consumer culture, and other important social issues in and around surfing and sports in general."
Cori Schumacher is a talented writer. She has written various articles addressing these issues, and has been published in The Inertia, The Guardian, The Surfers Journal, and elsewhere.
In 2012, Schumacher founded the nonprofit, The Inspire Initiative,
"to enrich and empower women of all ages through participation in surfing while emphasizing education, media literacy and building a core community of leaders that will effect positive change in the world."
What made you get in to action, extreme or adventure sports?
“Both my parents surfed and I spent most of my childhood on the beach and in the ocean. I didn't take to surfing immediately. I used to complain to my parents that I would much rather be riding horses or motorcycles in the mountains.
The moment I caught my first green-faced wave, I was hooked. The speed combined with the beauty of that wave and the feeling of being deeply connected with the movement of the ocean opened something in me that fundamentally altered my life.
I am at home in the ocean, amongst the waves. Deeper than this, I am only entirely me when I am in the act of riding waves, which is funny to say since when I ride, I lose all sense of self.
This two-fold sharpened and diffused sense is what I yearn for when I am not riding waves.”
What do you think of the lack of role models for girls and women in male dominated areas?
“I think for a long time there was this perception that male role models were sufficient for both men and women. But as the tide has changed for the participation of women in all areas of society, it has become clear that women and girls need to see other women and girls as role models to help give shape to their dreams and to show what is possible. There is still the nagging perception that the way men do things is the "better" or the "best" way, especially in sport, but if we are going to progress in our creativity and innovation, we must have access to and celebrate diverse ways of living, loving, expressing, and being.
"Woman" isn't a monolithic, homogenous category, but a rich realm of possibility waiting to explode. I think we are watching the unfolding of this now.”


How do you see women evolving in the action sports scene?
“What is needed to get more girls and women active as a celebration of the athletic female body and the achievements it can accomplish without sexualization. In addition, a greater diversity of female bodies in action needs to be made visible.”
What are your hopes for the future of the industry?
“Greater inclusion of women in leadership positions; more visibility of female riders; greater creativity in representations (not the lazy, sexualized marketing we often see); more diverse stories celebrated.”