Brazilian-Born, Oahu based mermaid/model/photographer.
GoPro Ohana Member content creator, Lifestyle & Travel Photojournalist
Claudia Cox has dreamed of Hawaii since her youth. Raised in the small town of Matinhos in the southern part of Brazil, Cox learned how to surf at the age of twelve. From that point on, she shared a goal with many other like-minded wave riders. “As every non-Hawaiian surfer’s dream, mine was to come to Hawaii and surf the North Shore of the island of Oahu,”
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Sea & Be Seen
Official Blog of American Swimwear Designer Karla Colletto
7 Q&A’s with Claudia Cox: Underwater Photographer
But that’s not all. Claudia Cox is bodyboarder, model, stunt woman, designer, photographer, and the closest thing to a real live mermaid we’ve ever seen. She charms the Instagram world with crisp photos and videos of her underwater adventures where she can be found exploring new depths of oceanic beauty, encountering sea creatures, and taking stunning self portraits. Take a dive into the nautical fascination that is Claudia Cox through the dialogue below.
What do you think it is about the ocean that enchants and captivates you?
I was literally born on the beach. My parents had a hotel/restaurant steps from the sea that was also our home and where I was born. So, my love and fascination with the ocean came naturally. The beach was my playground, the ocean treasures were my toys, and the sea creatures were my pets. My first pet growing up was a baby penguin that we found on the beach and raised until he was old enough to join his friends. Since then, I have only lived by the sea. From Brazil to Hawaii, and every other place I go, I need to be by the sea.
Spending so much time in the water leads to some compelling encounters with aquatic animals. What is one of your most memorable experiences?
In Hawaii I’d have to say that almost every time my friends and I are diving, we get surprised by a giant pod of wild dolphins. I’ve had many encounters with them but every time is different and equally special.
The most memorable experience that I’ve had so far with marine mammals was on one of those diving days. My friend and I were waiting for the dolphins to return and swim by us, I was next to my longboard as I saw a shadow swimming towards me. I thought, “Oh no, is this a shark?” As the shadow got closer and came directly under my board I saw that it was a young monk seal! He was moving his little arms around like he was dancing and only moved away from me when my friend came closer to photograph him. The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the rarest marine mammals in the world and is listed as endangered.
Another very cool experience I had was last summer, when I got to swim with stingrays and blacktip sharks on the island of Moorea, Tahiti. The stingrays were so friendly and large; just like spaceships flying underwater.
What has been one of the proudest moments in your diverse career of bodyboarding, modeling, design, and photography?
I know! I am still figuring out how to consolidate my numerous artistic interests into one job title! I go from one thing to another. I just recently became certified as an MUA so that I could be a one woman show on my photo shoots. I do the make up, hair, styling, and photography. Lots of my own photos are self-portraits, even underwater.
With that said my proudest moment was being able to finish my job as a stand-in on the tv show LOST which was filmed in Hawaii for 6 years! I was very proud of myself for sticking to a project from beginning to end.
What was it that drew you to Hawaii in particular? The landscape, the culture, the people?
As a child I was fascinated with the Elvis movies that were filmed here; the hula, the palm trees, and the crystal clear ocean. When I started bodyboarding and then competing in nationals it led me to Hawaii. I first came here to compete in the Women’s Bodyboard Competition at Pipeline. I came over every winter after that for a couple of months at a time until I decided to make Hawaii my home.
What are three places in Hawaii that you would say are a must-see for travelers?
We have so many beautiful islands, my favorite is called the Big Island. It has that feeling of old Hawaii, just magical.
Kauai is also very pretty. It’s called the Garden Island, with green valleys and luscious vegetation.
At Oahu island at winter time the waves get huge, like mountains made of water – especially at Waimea Bay, it’s fascinating to see.
What words or philosophy do you live by?
I have to quote Cinderella’s mother on this one:
“Have courage and be kind…. Where there is kindness there is goodness, and where there is goodness there is magic.”
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
The producers were very kind to me and let me do some stunts when I worked as a stand in on the television series LOST for the character of Kate. The stunt coordinator told me that Kate was going to be in a helicopter scene and asked if I would like to double for her, I said, “Sure!” On the day of the stunt, as we were getting ready to fly out, my stunt coordinator asked me if I wanted a harness or a seat belt? I asked what he thought and he answered, “Well, with my experience with aircrafts, if this one goes down, you don’t want to be attached.” The helicopter had no doors. In the scene, my character had to kiss the other stunt man as he jumped from the helicopter. All while I was supposed to be watching him with my head hanging out of the door and holding onto a fake baby in my arms! It was very exciting and intense, I thought to myself, “Well, so much for the girl that only came to Hawaii to surf, yet ended up doing Hollywood stunts!”
Be sure to check out Claudia’s thrilling Instagram account, you’ll feel like you’re one with the sea.
It was during an especially humid Hawaiian afternoon that Claudia Cox found herself sprawled on the cool tile floor, swept up in a brainstorming session with her housemates (actress Evangeline Lilly and designer Jennifer Sheridan) that would, shortly after, lead to a new career.
The Brazilian-born model’s journey to that hazy, defining moment had been a winding road. After short stints as a competitive bodyboarder and stunt woman, Cox found herself adrift in Hawaii, searching for “the next big thing.” That’s when a local casting director noticed Cox’s unruly dark curls and athletic build, traits that made her a dead-ringer for the star of the newest prime-time sensation. Cox would work as a stand-in for Lilly’s character “Kate” on LOST for the next few years.
Flash forward and Cox is one-half of Rfavela, a clothing and accessories line that harkens back to both her heritage (favela means “shanty town”) and the very island house that inspired its inception. Here, we talk with Cox about breaking teeth, kicking butt and giving back:
What made you switch from surfing to bodyboarding?
I start surfing when I was 12 years old and when I was 13 I had a surfing accident and broke my front teeth. I got scared of the surfboard and started bodyboarding instead, which led me to my new home in Hawaii.
After your bodyboarding career, you spent some time modeling. Did a particular job get you noticed for the part on LOST?
I started modeling in Brazil when one of my guy friends seduced me with the idea that if I became a model I would travel and surf around the world. I got selected to go to Rio de Janeiro, where they had a good acting school. I was there for two weeks and just thought was kind lame and I spent most of my days there sneaking away and going surfing- I decided that wasn’t for me.
After modeling in Hawaii for a while for surf companies, I signed up with a local modeling agency and started to do extra work on TV shows and movies. I ended up being a double for someone on Baywatch, doing all her action scenes in the water, which led to the job with LOST. So much for the girl that thought the movie business wasn’t for her! I worked on all six seasons of LOST.
We’re guessing being a stand-in isn’t as glamourous as it seems?
We were constantly covered in mud, wet, running in the jungle with all kinds of bugs, working long hours. I even coordinated a fight scene once since our stunt coordinator and director were late for some reason. They would let me do some stunts– the easier ones.
Seems like a character stranded on an island, wearing the same outfit all the time, wouldn’t be a good source of inspiration for a clothing line!
I was so sick of wearing the same clothes over and over for months. We would be so happy when we had to shoot a flashback so we could wear clean clothes, and get out of our rubber boots and mud-stained clothes!
The three of you came up with the idea for your line while in a hot house- what was the conversation like?
Jennifer Sheridan and I were living in Kailua at Evangeline Lilly’s house. We were pretty much always creating something on our days off; the house had little creative stations where one of us was always painting or writing. Jen wanted to create bikinis, but I wanted to do something different, which ended up being beautiful lingerie I would make in Brazil. I would spread samples on the floor, asking Evangeline and Jen which ones they liked the most.
So what are your favorite pieces from Rfavela?
I really love the lingerie collection that I designed in Bali– hopefully it will be available next summer. For my jewelry, I use feathers from a local farm in Kahuku– I get the feathers that fall from the roosters while their molting!
Why did you decide to donate money to Task Brasil out of all the charities out there?
We researched Task Brasil– Jen went to Brazil to visit them, and was very impressed with their work. I am Brazilian and I have always wanted to find a way to help the kids from my country. We use the name “favela,” so I want to give back to those people that live there.
Rodrigo Santoro não foi o unico brasileiro a brilhar no seriado americano LOST.
Claudia Cox, que mora há 17 anos no Havaí, participou de todas as seis temporadas da série. Ela foi dublê de Evangeline Lilly, que vive a personagem Kate. A pouco dias do fim de “Lost” – que termina neste domingo, 23, nos EUA, e dois dias depois no Brasil, pelo canal AXN -, Claudia conversou com o EGO e falou que já sente muita saudade de todos da equipe.
“Quanto mais se aproximava o final das gravações, íamos ficando mais tristes, mas também nos sentíamos recompensados por ter participado desse projeto e poder seguir em frente com a sensação de missão cumprida”, contou.
A atriz ficou conhecida depois de aparecer dando um selinho em Evangeline, no tapete vermelho em Cannes. A brasileira contou que as duas se tornram amigas durante as gravações de “Lost”. “Moramos juntas no Havaí durante um tempo e ficamos amigas fora das filmagens. O beijo é uma coisa de família. A mãe de Evangeline também me trata assim”, contou.
A dublê nasceu na cidade de Matinhos, no litoral do Paraná. A paixão pelo surfe a levou a morar no Havaí, há 17 anos. Além de participar do circuito feminino de bodybording, ela trabalhou como modelo de moda praia e acabou virando dublê no seriado “Baywatch”, conhecido aqui com “S.O.S. Malibu”. Desde então, várias séries rodadas no Havaí tiveram a participação de Claudia.
“Trabalhar em projeto tão bem sucedido como ‘Lost’ foi uma benção para mim. Fui paga para ter uma aula de cinema com os melhores. E ainda por cima, pude contracenar – e flertar – com vários bonitões como Matthew Fox, Josh Holloway, Daniel Dae Kim, entre outros”, disse ela.
A amizade entre Evangelinne Lilly e Claudia rendeu ainda uma parceria um projeto beneficente. Como o apoio da atriz canadense, a brasileira criou a grife RFavela, com produtos criados no Brasil e renda revertida para projetos de inclusão de crianças carentes. No ano passado, Evangelinne Lilly gravou um vídeo de apoio ao projeto.
“Pude plantar na cabeça do elenco de ‘Lost’ a sementinha de ajudar projetos com crianças no Brasil. Evangelinne, que já estava envolvida em alguns trabalhos humanitários e tinha vontade de se envolver em alguma coisa na América Latina, abraçou a idéia e se juntou a mim na criação da marca. Hoje, ela não está mais envolvida diretamente na iniciativa, mas continua sendo uma amiga próxima que apóia a causa. *