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Natural Wonder

Vancouver-born and Kaua‘i-raised, actress Serinda Swan is getting attention on- and off-screen.

Serinda Swan

Aspiring starlet Serinda Swan may not have been born in Hawai‘i, but she’s definitely found a part of herself on these shores. As fortune would have it, the Canadian siren moved from Vancouver to Kaua‘i when she was 14. Very quickly, she adapted to island life, learning to hike barefoot in the mountains. After a year in lush Hanalei, Swan would spend the next few years going back and forth between Canada and Kaua‘i. “Whenever I go back now, there’s a certain spirit to the land and the people that is really wonderful,” she says. “I credit a lot of my background to living in Hawai‘i and having that second home and family there.” On a lighter note, she is also a confessed wave snob after living in Hawai‘i. “How can you beat the waves on Kaua‘i’s North Shore?” she asks.

Of course, island life can’t take all the credit for Swan’s growing list of successes on the small and big screen. After a round of guest appearances, including on the CW hit Smallville, Swan got her break on A&E’s Breakout Kings, playing the tough bounty hunter Erica Reed. One thing is for certain, Swan’s not one to mess with. With a background in gymnastics, the actress later took up krav maga and kickboxing. “I’ve been training in different martial arts so I am able to do more of my own stunts,” she says. She brought the same intensity as DEA agent Paige Arkin on Graceland on USA, where she will reprise her role for its second season in 2014. But don’t try to pigeonhole Swan, who’s proving herself capable of more dramatic finesse. In 2014, she will appear beside actor Reid Scott and screen luminaires Barbara Hershey and Illeana Douglas in the indie film, Sister, which delicately tackles the overmedication of youth. “I’m still coming down from that whole experience,” she says of the opportunity to work with such actresses. “Barbara Hershey
is phenomenal.”

That’s the appeal of Swan, who balances grace with flair. The combination is something she’s embraced off-screen as well, as the founding ambassador with the nonprofit Friends to Mankind, which partners with worthy causes worldwide. And when Swan wants to bring attention to a cause, it’s truly high-exposure. Take, for instance, her death-defying efforts for the Somaly Mam Foundation, which fights against human trafficking. The daredevil has organized charity sky dives, raising $103,000 in 2013 so far. While the concept may seem extreme, there’s a greater philosophy at work. “The main idea behind it is to take a day and choose to face your fears to represent the millions of women and children who have to face theirs every day without choice.” Inspired? Then get ready, as Hawai‘i is high on Swan’s list for 2014’s jump.