You’ve almost certainly heard of Imogen Caldwell by now, the young Aussie charger turned surfer slash model, raised in a desert town of just 13, right next to one of the heaviest left hand slabs in WA.
At 18 she was plucked from the site of her humble beginnings and thrust into the world of international stardom, quickly catching the world’s attention for her crazy surfing ability, especially in waves of consequence and, of course, her dazzling beauty.
A few years back she took up with fellow Aussie charger Cortney Brown and has since moved in with him down in Kalbarri, splitting her time between accompanying him and brother Kerby on heavy wave missions and flying around the world for modelling jobs.
Such a lifestyle, as you could imagine, doesn’t leave much time for in depth interviews, and Imogen prefers to let her surfing do the talking anyway, so we caught up with her for a few quick fire questions with even quicker fire answers. Here’s what she told us….
Firstly, how on earth do you learn to surf at a barreling left hand slab? Surely getting pushed into the white wash isn’t really an option?
You get what you’re given!! And in my case this was one of the best waves in the country, shallow and sharp yes, but we learnt fast. Watching my dad and my brother kept me striving to be better, and also surfing with other girls who grew up at The Bluff
Did having to face your fears straight away make you more ready to take on all the subsequent challenges you’ve faced to get to the level you’re at?
Definitely, I would paddle out when it was way too big for me, but just sitting and watching made me feel comfortable and eventually I got deeper and deeper into the lineup.
A lot of people describe you as fearless. You grew up around a lot things other people find scary- like heavy waves and sharks- do you think that environment has shaped you into a genuinely fearless person, or are there just different things that scare you?
Fearless? Not at all, I’m just not scared of the things that most people are afraid of. My childhood has shaped who I am today 100%.
Did not going to school, and being detached let you forge your own path free from social pressures regular suburban kids face?
Definitely, we weren’t faced with the same issues regular school kids dealt with. We had to avoid the brown snakes and scorpions on the way to the toilet, not bullys or social media trolls.
Was it a culture shock, after growing up shoeless in the desert and surfing everyday suddenly landing in the world of international modelling, where people ask about your workout routine and your must have beauty products?
Ha ha, for sure! It still shocks me when I find myself in a makeup chair, people pulling at my hair and face from all angles.. I’m like ‘how did I get here?!!’ But I feel very privileged to have the opportunities to travel and work as a model AND a surfer.
Have your priorities shifted at all since entering that world?
I’m still learning, it’s a different world and not one that you get used to quickly.
What’s been the most surprising thing about the modelling industry?
How hard it can be!! I’m sure from the outside it can look like a very easy lifestyle, but it’s not always fun and games.
You originally got sponsored when a brand manager happened across you on a surf trip right? Has it all happened that spontaneously?
Yes! Nathan Webster. I’ve come a long way since then, some of it happened spontaneously but other things I worked my butt off for!
What are your plans for this year? Are you chasing swells or focussed on charging heavier waves around home? Any competitive aspirations?
A lot of my focus is definitely on surfing some bigger waves. I’m not interested in doing it competitively, I just want to have fun.
Cover photo: Courtesy of O’Neill
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