[Reigning Miss Hawai‘i Nicole Fox and Kekoa Cazimero styling it out at the world premiere of Riding With Koa. Photo: Kema/Pai‘ea Projects]
Night At the Documentary
Riding With Koa World Premiere Wrap-Up Interview With Kekoa Cazimero
By: Daniel Ikaika Ito
It took 14 months to make Riding With Koa, the biographical “action-umentary” about pro surfer Kekoa Cazimero. But, it only took one night to premiere the surf film to the world on Sunday May 24 in a packed Level 4 Night Club. Despite a stomach full of butterflies and a club full of family, friends, sponsors and fans, Cazimero kept his cool throughout the event; thanking everyone in the crew and all of those in his support network while on stage.
We caught up with the 19-year-old, goofy foot after signing autographs and giving one lucky grom a brand-new Eric Arakawa 6’ 0” to ask him about the emotions leading up to the premiere, the accuracy of the movie, the Koa Tree Foundation and how important style is.

Daniel Ito: What were you feeling before the world premiere of Riding With Koa?
Kekoa Cazimero: Leading up to the movie I was super nervous, you know – a lot of anxiety. I was real excited, but at the same time, I was real nervous about what the audience would think. There was a lot of stoke too, because there were times [where] we would get really pumped on the movie. There were other times when we would be like, 'Oh my god, it’s almost here!’. A lot of feelings and mixed emotions. But it was a good adrenaline rush.
D: What’s more nerve racking: paddling out to Pipe or screening an autobiographical film?
K: Both. It’s a different type of nervousness. For the movie, it was something I never really felt. I was anxious, but I was really stoked. Pipe too: anxious, stoked and scared. All the same emotions, but they’re generated in a different way. Just a lot of nervousness and excitement.
D: A lot of times with these autobiographical surf movies, it’s hit or miss whether the film portrays the person accurately. Do you feel like Riding With Koa captured your personality well?
K: I feel that Riding With Koa captured the true essence of everything I do in my life. My family. My friends. The way I surf. Chad Campbell nailed it! It’s kind of nuts because I know Chad, but at the time he was editing the movie I wasn’t super close to him. For Chad to come out with a movie like that he nailed it on the head.
D: Who would you award Best Supporting Actor to in Riding With Koa?
K: I would have to give it to the Hawaiian Hurricane because he brought out the lawnmower. It was a close second with Zak Noyle because he was hilarious, everyone knows that. But the Hawaiian Hurricane had his dance moves and dance off.
D: The movie has a really unique soundtrack, huh?
K: The music with Riding With Koa is different from other surf videos because there’s a lot of mainstream music in there. Some Lil' Wayne and lots of Hawaiian music. I got “Billy Jean” in my movie and people [at the premiere] were loving it. I saw people dancing in the audience and it was cool.
D: More than just promoting you as a professional surfer, it seems like Riding With Koa really promoted your non-profit organization. What kind of response are you getting with the Koa Tree Foundation after the premiere?
K: The Koa Tree Foundation has been raging! People are really stoked on it and they want to get involved. It’s getting way bigger than I expected. A lot of my sponsors are responding to it because they see the potential the Koa Tree Foundation has, it’s goals and who it’s benefiting. It’s helping everyone out and they can appreciate that. I’m stoked and my friends and family are backing me. All in all it’s a real good thing.
D: Fitted Hawaii is about to release your limited-edition signature New Era on Saturday and we know that part of the proceeds of each unit sold goes to the Koa Tree Foundation. Why did you pick those colors for the hat?
K: I got a different type of style from my peers in the surf industry. I like real bright, cool colors. I think the pink goes real well with the teal and it’s real fresh together. Sandy Beach was a real big inspiration for the hat and it shows on the inside. And the black denim on the outside really makes the teal and pink pop off the hat. Mental colors that pop.
D: In the movie a lot of people say your style in the water is smooth. How would you describe your personal style out of the water?
K: Fresh. I like to keep everything fresh. I love the smell of new clothes. I love new shoes. I like to be crisp and fresh. Even though I’m a pro surfer and I have sunscreen on all day, I clean up real nice.
D: What does style mean to Kekoa Cazimero?
K: All around, I think style is how you do things. The kind of person you are, how you dress and how you portray yourself. Style is important to me because I don’t want to look like a yard worker when I go out.