If you ask me, Dallas Friday needs no introduction. Chances are you have seen her on TV, either on ESPN, FUSE, or the ABC Family channel, in a show called Switch; or you may watched her Cheetos commercial or recognized her voice and reproduced image on the Disney cartoon Kim Possible.
If you don’t watch TV, you have seen her in a magazine or the newspaper. After all, she’s been featured in over ten different titles, including major publications like Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal, Sports Illustrated, CosmoGIRL! and Southern Living. The 21-year-old also made headlines in the local newspaper two years ago, when she fractured her femur during a wakeboard contest in Singapore. It wasn’t just the news of her injury that broke headlines, but the fact that she was induced into a medical coma from post-surgery complications. Her near fatal experience had editors eager to follow her story until she was well and back into the states.
And finally, like other celebrity atheletes, Dallas owns a fair bit of internet real estate. The rider can be found on Facebook, MySpace, www.DallasFriday.com and searched through engines like Wikipedia, Google, You Tube, etc… To escape Dallas Friday and her media frenzy seems nearly impossible—at least to me. That’s why I’m not even going to bother conjuring up an intro for the world class athlete. Instead, I’d rather focus on the unique dynamics of this interview.
The following interview was created specifically to coordinate with the article I wrote about Dallas for the 2.2 issue of The Standerd: Wakeboard Quarterly. To go along with the edit, photographer Josh Letchworth took photos of our interview in hopes to capture the event in its rawest form. I knew having another person in the room was bound to effect the normal dynamics of my interviewing process, but no one could have predicted Josh’s influence on the two of us. As he jumps in and starts to ask questions, you will notice Dallas starts really opening up; I also stop talking and start admiring his candidness. So instead of the interview ending, which is what I thought was happening, it begins again; and the result is amazing. Josh exposes a deeper, sincere Dallas, perhaps this is a side of her that you haven’t heard about.
Jana: What do you want to talk about Dallas? You’ve been interviewed and questioned plenty of times to probably know.
Dallas: What do I want to talk about?
Jana: Yeah, like, what’s on your mind?
Dallas: A busy summer … and it’s about to start. Reality is kicking in, I guess.
Josh: Are you anxious about this summer?
Dallas: Yeah. Now that there is the Queen of Wake Series, there are a lot more contests going on this year. I do stuff for my sponsors all the time too. So it’s going to be a busy summer; it’s going to be fun but it’s going to be hectic.
Jana: Do you have to mentally prepare yourself for it to begin?
Dallas: Yeah. Being away from home is difficult sometimes. It’s been nice being home and relaxing. But I’m motivated for this year … more excited and eager than ever before.
Jana: What do you hope this season brings for you?
Dallas: First off, I just want to remain healthy. I want to finish the season off without making any doctor’s appointments. Then, I just want to have fun and try my best.
Jana: A lot can change between the ages of 18-21. What has changed the most for you in those years?
Dallas: I’ve just become more mature, I guess.
Jana: Are you feeling more responsibility?
Dallas: Yeah, for sure. Not just as a role model but as a business partner to my sponsors, like being on time for things and putting all my effort in. You’ve got to show your sponsors the same support they show you. It seems like to make it in our industry, you can’t just ride good. You’ve got to talk to your sponsors, be responsible, be smart and always remember you have the public eye looking at you from every perspective. I just try to keep my head—no matter where I’m at. Because you’d be surprised; someone’s always watching.
Josh: That’s a good point. There’s always so much more than just being on the water. I really have realized that. Following you guys around and seeing what you do. I’ve noticed you have to be on a lot—socially—you just have to be on.
Jana: Yeah, that’s true. Describe a typical day for you in season.
Dallas: I usually just wake up and have a Red Bull …
Jana: Oh, come on Dallas. Is that a sponsor plug? [Laughs]
Dallas: No, I’m serious. [Laughs] That’s what I do; I wake up and have a Red Bull. Then, I’ll go for a ride. Then I’ll take care of some business, like phone calls or e-mails. I’ll have lunch. Then, I’ll probably have some kind of photo shoot or event I need to go to. Then hopefully, I’ll get to ride again.
Jana: How many hours do you put on your boat each day?
Dallas: Lately … not much because it’s been real windy. I’ve [also] been busy doing so much of this kind of stuff, it’s been crazy.
Jana: What is the deal with the wind in Orlando? I feel like it has been extra windy this year.
Dallas: Oh yeah, it has.
Jana: Do you think you could ever move away from Orlando?
Dallas: No way. [Laughs] I love Florida; I’m a Florida girl for sure.
Jana: What does this place offer you?
Dallas: First off, my family. I love the weather, I don’t really care for the cold; I love the humidity, even though a lot of people don’t; there are so many lakes; I love being outdoors. It’s just beautiful here. Everyone that comes down here never leaves.
Jana: True. Last year, there were deaths due to bacteria in local lake water. How did that affect you?
Dallas: I’m in the lake more than anyone, especially my lake. It was just unfortunate. I feel for their families. It’s just one of those things you can’t do anything about. [Pauses] I really don’t know what else to say.
Jana: Is it something that you think about when you get into the water?
Dallas: I probably wouldn’t go swimming in shallow, nasty-looking water. But it definitely doesn’t keep me away from riding. That’s for sure.
Jana: What inspires you?
Dallas: What inspires me? Or what motivates me?
Josh: Like, what’s the one thing that you can look at, or think about, that puts a smile on your face?
Dallas: I would say watching people do something that they love for a living. I think that’s really cool. Like Parks [Bonifay], [Shaun] Murray, Shaun White, Bucky Lasik, Travis Pastrana—you can really tell that they love the sport that they do. They create their own image and style—that’s inspiring.
Jana: I think some people may feel that same way about you. Do you feel that way about yourself?
Dallas: I don’t really stop and think about myself. I feel like I’ve worked hard … and I’m thankful and appreciative that I’m able to do what I love, and that I have the people that support me, like my family, around me. I’ve been given an opportunity and I don’t think I’ve wasted it. I’ve worked hard; and from what I can tell, it’s paid off.
Jana: Define wakeboarding and what it means to you.
Dallas: It’s my life. [Laughs] Everything I do revolves around it—everyone I talk to, everything I do and the decisions I make. I don’t know Jana … that’s a hard question.
Jana: [Laughs] Alright, let’s lighten it up a bit. You’ve walked many a red carpets, what actually happens on those things?
Dallas: Lots of flashing lights. [Laughs]
Jana: What are you thinking about when those pictures are being taken?
Dallas: Hold a smile. [Laughs] No, it’s cool. I’ve gotten used to it. It’s the world of wakeboarding that I never expected.
Jana: Were you taught how to pose?
Dallas: No! I wouldn’t take the time to learn how to walk down the red carpet—that’d be pretty funny. I just try to be myself and keep a happy face on.
Jana: Where do you keep your ESPY award?
Dallas: Next to the kitchen sink, on the counter. It’s next to my Arby’s Action Sports Award.
Jana: Do other athletes at red carpet events ever call you up to go ride?
Dallas: They don’t ever call me because I don’t give out my number. But sometimes people do say they want to go ride.
Jana: What celebrity numbers do you have in your phone?
Dallas: The newest one I got is Shaun White. [Laughs] I haven’t used it yet, but I will.
Josh: [Laughs] Are you saving that one for the right moment?
Dallas: Yeah, I guess.
Jana: Thanks Dallas, I think I’m all set. Josh, do you want to add anything else? [Josh has finished the photo shoot and takes a seat next to me.]
Josh: Yeah sure. What’s next? I mean, you’re coming off a big injury. Where is your head at? What are your goals?
Dallas: I always have goals and things that I want to accomplish … you have to. Once you have accomplished something, you can’t just stop there. I want to keep riding and stay healthy. Injuries have been a big part of my career, like any athlete. I want to be an inspiration for others that get hurt … because there are always bumps in the road, it’s what makes you stronger. When everything is taken away, you realize how bad you want it. I am definitely working hard and I get frustrated. I just want to be back to where I was, or even better.
Jana: Is there anything you feel like you have to prove?
That’s a tricky question. I wouldn’t say I feel pressure but … there are … what is the word? [Pauses] Expectations? [Pauses] That’s kind of a weird subject, I’m sorry.
Josh: Weird is good.
Jana: That’s good that they’re adding of more women’s events to the tour this year.
Dallas: Yeah, it’s about time. There are a lot of new, up and coming girls; and I definitely see a lot of potential in a few of them. They seem hungry for it. They’re not just good riders, but motivated good riders—which are two different things. It’s the difference between being good and being the best. Hopefully, we can get more girls into it. I think it’s grown a lot in the past 4-5 years. I’m stoked to be a part of it, and I hope to stay a part of it for many, many more years.
Josh: Do you acknowledge that you have attributed a lot to that?
Dallas: I’ve hoped so. I remember reading interviews and articles when the girls weren’t really pushing themselves; that’s kind of when I got on to the scene. I just started riding hard and riding with the boys. That’s what caught the eye of the public I think. And it may be what motivated the girls a bit, like in the way that girls can do this sport too.
Josh: Do you let the “what’s next” get to you? Or do you block it out and just let your instincts take over?
Dallas: It’s kind of hard to plan the future with everything you want to do. It’s really frustrating thinking about the season with all the contests, photo shoots and obligations that I have.
Jana: How do you stay organized?
Dallas: My mom. It’s crazy though. I try not to think ahead or worry about things you can’t be in control over. I’m not saying I don’t plan things … it’s just, you know?
Josh: Yeah, I know what you mean. But are you still excited about it?
Dallas: Oh yeah. I really am excited. When I’m standing on the dock and about to ride—that’s how I feel about this entire year. I just want to go out there and do it. I’m really anxious.
Josh: When you think about wakeboarding this year, what pops in your head: a competitive aspect or joy and riding for the love?
Dallas: Everything. I’m a competitive person, so I’m definitely thinking about competitions and how well I’m going to do at them. I think about what’s going to motivate me this year. I kind of think everything happens for a reason. So if I do badly, there is a reason for it. I’ll figure it out in the long run. I’m just excited about this year. I know people want to know where I’m at as far as my riding goes and if I am the “motivated Dallas Friday” that’s going to make a come back. I think about it all the time; it’s weird. I just got to be myself and go out there and do what I’m meant to do. I have a game plan.
Josh: Are you nervous—with your leg—when you ride now?
Dallas: No, not at all. I’ve never been [hesitant] after any of my injuries. I don’t have that mental block, maybe because I did gymnastics. It’s a demanding sport and you must always get back up and do it again … until its right. There is no second guessing, you just have to know that you can do it. I remember when I first did a whirlybird after the doctor let me ride. I was out on the boat with [Josh] Sanders. He was like, “Think about it. You’re gonna commit, right?” He was nervous that I was going to get hurt while he was driving the boat. I was like, “I got it! I got it!” He was like, “Are you sure?” And I said, “Dude, I’m full of it.” He shook his head and said, “Alright Dallas.” I know he was nervous; I would have been too if I was driving the boat. I landed my first three [whirlybirds] and they were better than they were before. It’s just one of those things that you have to have confidence about.
Josh: Where do you see yourself in twenty years?
Dallas: I have no idea where I’ll be at.
Josh: Do you want to have kids? Do you want to get married?
Dallas: Yeah, one day; but way down the road.
Josh: Do you feel that motherly instinct?
Dallas: I’m sure I’ll have kids some day. But I can’t even picture that right now and I don’t have that need. You would have to have a lot of patience. I’m just tryin’ to live my life to the fullest. You have to enjoy it while you can.
Josh: Do you like peace and quiet?
Dallas: Yeah, I do. My time is precious. Alone time and at home time is the best time.
Josh: Do you ever shut-down and turn your phone off?
Dallas: No, not really. I wish I could turn my phone off, but I’d just lose it. I’m already onto my fourth phone this year. It’s ridiculous.
Josh: Where’s your place—the place you go to and completely disconnect, no wakeboarding?
Dallas: Driving in my car, or sitting outside. Sometimes I just sit outside and look around. Probably once a day I say, “I love Florida.” Florida is the best place ever. I feel so fortunate to own a house on a lake with a boat house.
Josh: Where do you want to vacation?
Dallas: People think I’m always on vacation. It’s not true. [Pauses] I’ve always wanted to go to the Maldives.
* Interview Date: April 1, 2008