We had a chance to sit down with actress, model and surfer Sonya Balmores Chung while she was in Honolulu for a recent screening of her film, “Soul Surfer.” Here’s what the former Miss Hawaii Teen USA, who starred in the series “Beyond the Break,” had to say about her career, future plans and hero Bethany Hamilton.
Have you always wanted to be an actress, or was it a natural progression?
I think it was definitely a natural progression. I’m always up for a challenge and to learn new things, so when my first print agent Cindy Kauanui (former owner of Jet Set Models) began sending me out on auditions, I just rolled with it. I’m half Filipino, and I think we have a love for performing and making people laugh, so I definitely inherited that funny gene from my dad’s side of the family.
Has “Soul Surfer” changed you in any way? If so, how?
Being a part of Bethany Hamilton’s movie has been really humbling and a huge honor for me. She’s probably one the most famous surfers and
Christians on the planet right now. It’s humbling because I’ve been realizing that God is so much bigger than what I can wrap my mind around. With all the junk that goes on in the world, there’s so much peace and comfort knowing that God has a master plan for each one of us. “Soul Surfer” and Bethany herself have made me bolder in sharing my faith and love for Jesus as well.
Other than surfing, can you relate to your character in the movie at all?
Yes, I can relate to the competitive factor that Malina had in the movie. I played soccer for about nine years, and I got a taste of the rivalry, taunting and elbowing that goes on. I’m surprised I never got into a fight on the field! I did get a lot of yellow cards for high kicks though. I feel terrible about breaking a girl’s collar bone when I slide tackled her too. I think that’s why I gravitated to surfing; it was more laid back for me.
What’s something the general public doesn’t know about you?
Lots of people don’t know that I’m married. My husband Kanoa Chung is my favorite surfer in the whole world and is also my number one fan.
What other projects are you working on?
I”m based on Kauai, which is pretty far from Hollywood. Right now I’m writing and pushing myself to finish two scripts that I’ve started. I make my way up to L.A. a few times a year for auditions. I’m also finding myself being invited to more events, youth conferences and guest speaking events.
If you weren’t in show business, what would you be doing?
If I hadn’t pursued modeling or acting I might have focused on journalism and design. I used to want to be a magazine editor in high school. And I’m finding that my love for English and writing is coming back, so I hope to keep growing and learning in that field.
Do you have a special message to your fans and supporters in Hawaii?
I absolutely love my home and everyone here. My only hope is that each one of us kama’aina would find a passion for life and honor our minds and bodies and live life to the fullest. We have so much talent, beauty, brains and heart in the islands, I would hate for it to go to waste. Love life and don’t be scared. A big thank you to everyone who has supported the film as well as myself. I am so grateful for the opportunity and the love.