This is how Zoom Evan Mock presents himself at the appointment, returning from the set of the reboot of the TV series Gossip Girl, in which he plays Aki Menzies: smiling, decidedly cold and with the hood of the sweatshirt pulled down on his forehead, while one of the most violent snowstorms in recent years it has been bombing the entire US East Coast.
ICON: Since it’s snowing and cold, let’s talk about Hawaii…
EVAN MOCK (EM): Fuck yeah, bro.
ICON: What was it like growing up in the earthly paradise?
EM: Special. If you surf it is one of the best places in the world, touristy enough, but also wild, tough, the opposite of the laid back life of the island, which is certainly a well-known destination for all pro surfers on the circuit. Living in close contact with your idols, asking them for advice, in and out of the water, to show them what you can do, studying them, perhaps with the hope of stealing a trick or two, is a unique opportunity for a young child. So in New York or any other major metropolis [what I experienced] can be defined as a street smart education or “the-school-of-the-street”. From there I learned everything I needed, not only when they were at sea, but above all when they were out: exercises, meditation, all their behaviour. I memorised everything they did to prepare for the waves.
ICON: But what about “traditional” education?
EM: I never went to school. I studied at home because my parents have always believed that it was more important for me to have a deep connection with nature than to conform to a school education.
ICON: How were your days then?
EM: Early in the morning I would surf, come home and do my homework. From two-years-old I was at the park as a skateboarder or on the surfboard again. It’s still my routine today, I get up early and dedicate the day to my passions.
ICON: What is surfing for you?
EM: It is my tribe, an important part of my life, of my family. My father made board fins and my uncle Garrett was the pioneer of extreme surfing – he’s the star of the documentary 100 Foot Wave. For us, the beach has always been our playground, as Central Park has been for New Yorkers. The beach is family, community; it is a feeling that leads you to abandon yourself completely to nature without fighting it. Surfing also means technical [knowledge], it is important to know the tides, the currents, to understand when to go out or when it is dangerous. The Pacific, despite it’s name, can be deadly, especially when you are close to shore and trying to avoid stingrays hidden in the sand!
ICON: When did you realize that surfing could become a job?
EM: If you live on an island, you don’t have many options, so surfing has always been part of my daily life. My life was organised so that I could do it every day. Then at nine I became a skateboard rat. I had the same feeling of freedom as [I did when I was] surfing, so at 11-years-old I started doing it seriously, with the obsession of becoming the best. Even today my parents, laughing, tell me that I spent more hours on the skateboard than in bed. I made my first money when I was 16, it was $1500. At that age it seemed like a good amount, certainly a good start to becoming independent, and then I realised that doing it as a pro would allow me to have, for free, everything I needed to practice the sport: shoes, board, dress up. I was happy. Growing up I realized that it was not just a sport, but a real lifestyle. By becoming one of the best I could cultivate all the other passions of my life, such as fashion, for example I enjoy creating my own very personal style by combining haute couture and streetwear.
ICON: How different is acting compared to the other disciplines you practice?
EM: I started by accident – I never did theater, never went to school. I don’t have training like many of the guys I work with on the show. Acting can be frustrating. Sometimes I feel like I can’t remember all the lines, but then I think about how hard I worked to become a good surfer and I realize that the mantra that has sustained me in the water or on the road ‘Never give up, Never surrender’ works in everyday life. Each defeat makes you better, the important thing is to believe in yourself.
ICON: Gossip Girl is trendy as hell in Gen Z. Have you seen the original?
EM: No, my older sister, who is a couple of years older than me, was watching it. When I realised that I had got the part, I asked her to tell me the plot, the various characters and their terminology, so [I wouldn’t be] completely naive. I am referring especially to the ‘inhuman’ behaviour of the super rich on the Upper East Side, including gestures and vocabulary. It took some time to get used to.
ICON: Do you have a few words about the legend of Tony Hawk skateboarding?
EM: In addition to The GOAT (Greatest of all Time) it is an example of how sport can help develop social projects. I think of his foundation, The Skatepark Project, which promotes the creation of public skateboards to help children living in communities at risk.
ICON: Many ask: why pink hair?
EM: No particular reason. I simply had pink [hair] when people saw me with a skateboard in that swimming pool and then in the video that Frank Ocean put on his Instagram (which hit one million and four hundred thousand views – ICON Ed). The week before that [my hair] was blue. That’s all.
Photography: Szilveszter Makó
Fashion Stylist: Edoardo Caniglia
Grooming: Astor Hoxha Set Design_Renzo Camerotto
Fashion Assistant: Federica Arcadio
Words: Roberto M. Croci
Talent: Evan Mock