Tar Heel TV

posted by / News / August 21, 2007

Turning the tables on Outer Banks pro to turned Fuel TV host, Matt Beacham

Andy Griffith’s pissed. The 81-year-old Manteo, NC resident used to be the only TV star in Outer Banks history. Then Matt Beacham came along. As one of the few local surfers bred and born in this sparsely populated stretch of barrier islands — in fact, the 29-year-old’s Kitty Hawk roots are unbroken back to his great, great, great grandfather Decatur Beacham — Matt is also the only Outer Banks pro to succeed by moving west to California, working the last eight years as high-profile surf photo slut, as well as a high-profile fashion model. Now the notorious cut-up’s on Fuel TV hosting the highly popular “New Pollution,” profiling under-16 athletes from every action sport. And with the show starting to film its second season, there’s a good chance Beacham’s broadcast career is only beginning. Sorry Andy: the camera loves him. And he loves the camera. But what Beacham really loves is hanging out with the most talented groms in America. As he puts it, “I couldn’t be happier; it’s an absolute dream to be a kid with these kids.”

SURFING: When you moved to California after college, you were doing the pro surfer, photo-slut shuffle. How did that transfer into a TV show?

MATT BEACHAM: Well, while I was doing the pro surf thing, I was also working as a model traveling around and doing shoots with companies like JC Penney and J. Crew. So I think that got me used to being in that setting of people watching me do stuff. Which can be potentially awkward — which is really awkward, actually. And surfing, we’ve always worked on film projects. So through all that I had a comfort with the camera, which mellowed me out and allowed me to be myself. Plus, I’d kind of already built a rapport with Fuel doing things prior to this. When it came time to put the show together, I guess the director — whose name is Matt Jones — said I was the first guy who came to mind. I showed up with my little resume but apparently they weren’t gonna search too hard — unless I totally blew it. [laughs] Which I fully appreciate.

That whole model thing doesn’t hurt either. We understand you’re extremely popular with that elusive “Women Aged 9 to 147” demographic.

Ha! Well, I’m pretty ugly right now. We all had to grow mustaches for this bachelor party I’m heading to in {{{Baja}}}, so I’ve got this awful six-day piece on my upper lip. But I’m blazing back tomorrow first thing to go shoot some more kids, so that thing’s gone.

Sounds like a tight schedule. How many episodes have you done so far?

We’re filming our second season right now. We did 36 kids later year, we’ll do another 36 this year. That’s 12 shows. And there’s a thirteenth show that’s kind of a wrap-up. Each kid gets about 7 minutes each, which is just enough time to get to know their lives. And that’s really the coolest part of the show. A lot of times I think kids aren’t given a voice. It’s like, “we actually want to hear you out.” And what I’m finding out is that if you’ve figured out how to be pretty darn good at something by the time you’re 10 or 12, you probably have some pretty interesting aspects to your personality as swell.

What goes into getting that seven minutes?

I like to spend two solid days with each kid. We’ve had to rush and do it all in a day before, but I think it’s way better to get involved with them so they feel like they know you. And that second day is usually more relaxed. But I just try to be super mellow. I think the kids get nervous when you start hyping ‘em too much so I just try to be relaxed and I think they respond to that.

Which athletes stand out so far?

There’s really so many cool people it’s hard to say. But Steel Lafferty a wakeboarder from Florida really stands out. Coco Ho, that girl was so cool. And I’m pretty sure I’ve met the next Shaun White, this really cool 10-year-old snowboarder from Bend, Oregon named Ben Watts.

What’s in store for the next season?

Well, we’re just starting but I just got back from hanging with Balaram Stack and Quincy Davis in New York. Not sure who’s next, but I leave Wednesday for Pennsylvania, Illinois and Wisconsin.

Full inland tour, huh?

Yeah, but I’m still surfing more than ever. And the traveling’s a blast. I love cruising out to these cities that I’d really never go to otherwise. The good old USA offers a lot of beauty. And I’m just trying to soak it all in.

Plus you get to go skate and snowboard with them, as well. That has to be nice to get a little variety.

Totally. I’ve gotten skate so many little parks, which is cool because I grew up skating but put it down for years because of the injury factor. We snowboard mountains in Utah, Vermont whatever. And wakeboarding I can do like wake-to-wake grabs, but I really like to do wake surfing, which uses this little skimboard-style thing. They know to make the wake huge these days by putting all this weight on one side of the boat. We weren’t smart enough to figure that out back when I was a kid.

Do you get worried though when it comes time for a surf session? Maybe edit the clips to make yourself look better against the young bucks?

Nah [laughs]. Actually, the editing got so hectic last year there were five or six guys working on different shows. So there’s no way I can get in there. But those guys have taken the opportunity several times to make me look as bad as possible — which I’m all for. [laughs]

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