The Company I Keep
Three (actually four) people who have shaped Oscar Wright's most fabulous life.
(Ed Note: Ozzie Wright has inspired thousands of surfers in his 20-plus years as a pro, but who's responsible for influencing Oz?
In other words, which individuals helped shape the zany, artistic, shaggy-haired slider we all know and love?
In this portion of his Guest Editor-ship, Oz reveals "The Company I Keep" – three (or in this case four) of the most influential people in his life and career.
As one might expect, the people Ozzie named are not all (or any, for that matter) hi-fi wave shredders. Instead, these are people who have touched Ozzie's heart and made him the man he is today, while also contributing to his lifetime achievements in surfing and art.
"Board art is a gateway to the surfer's soul" - Maya Angelou
Vaughan 'Deadly' Blakey (lifelong friend, creative colleague, and bandmate):
I guess Vaughan is probably my oldest, longest, closest friend, who's also involved in my career. We met on the first day of kindergarten. I think our moms were taking us to school and met each other, and thought we could be friends.
We were mates instantly and started surfing together when we were five. For a few years, we were inseparable. Then he moved up to the North Coast and I stayed in Sydney.
We stayed in touch the whole time that he was gone. We used to write letters. I'd even take the train up to his house and sometimes he'd come down.
When he was about 17, Vaughan got a job with Tracks Mag in Sydney, and he came down and lived at my house.
It definitely helps to have guys working at magazines when you're trying to be a pro surfer. And Vaughan helped get me in a lot of those early movies.
There was that one Seven Days, Seven Slaves. It was a collaborative effort. Hollywood filmed it and edited it. Vaughan sort of just came on the surf trip.
Vaughan "Deadly" Blakey has been a fixture in Ozzie's life since they were five.
Doped Youth was the next one. Vaughan was totally the director there. He wrote the script. He basically filmed it all and brought that whole movie to life, which was really cool.
That was really only about two weeks from concept to finish. It was so quick. He was like, "Let's make a surf movie." I was like, “Yes, let's act in it. Let’s do a battle of the bands.” He wrote the script and then, boom, we had all the people down, everybody stayed at my house. A few days later, it was all done.
That's kind of how it's always been between Vaughan and me. We just like to create stuff together.
My favourite thing about Vaughan is his outlook on life. His positivity is astonishing. He's really encouraging. He's just like, "Yes," to everything.
Basically, he has been a really positive influence on me, even though he is a crazy party animal. He loves having fun and he wants to live it all.
Sweet Mylee, the center of Ozzie's wild universe and a great creator in her own right.
Mylee Grace (Ozzie's partner of 13 years and mother to his children)
I've known Mylee since she was really young – eight or nine years old. We've been friends forever, and now we've been together for nearly 13 years.
She's just the best friend you could ever have.
She's also a really good musician, she's an amazing singer, and she surfs. She started when Rocky was two, so she's been surfing for about eight years – not very long. She has a really good style and is pretty natural at it. We basically moved to Byron so she can surf.
We've got such similar interests, and that's nice. We can all share it all together. We have family dance sessions sometimes. It's magic.
Mylee inspires me to do my best work and be the best person I can be. She's definitely not a party animal. She does everything properly. She'll take her time and do everything right, whereas I'm pretty much just doing a million things all at once, probably half-assing a lot of things. She's made me take more care in every aspect of my life.
Rocky and Goldie aren't just Ozzie's children; they're his inspiration to lead a more value-driven life.
Rocky and Goldie (Ozzie's Kids):
Can I say both of my kids?
Rocky's 10 now. I've spent nearly every day with him for the past 10 years – it'd be hard not to be influenced by someone you've spent 10 years with. And it's amazing being a dad. It's really fun. But it's also testing. Rocky was pretty into computer games, which is something I never, ever did. Sometimes it's hard not to get frustrated about that. You're like, "You should surf!" It's hard not to be a pushy dad, but it pays to be patient.
I've been so lucky to have been able to make a living from surfing from such a young age, especially freesurfing. My schedule's always been really, really free. But by the time I was 30, that freedom almost became too much. I was just thinking, "Where am I going?"
I think it was so healthy for me to have Rocky, which meant having specific jobs that to do every day. It put me into a routine and got me out of my own head. It made me really appreciate my surf time or whatever time I had to myself to get things done. It made me realize how much I loved to do my work and make it happen.
Having a daughter is different. It's just a different pressure that you feel from your dad when you're a boy, and then as a dad, it's hard to not apply that same pressure to your son. It comes out. I don't know – it's heavy.
With your daughter, it's nothing like that. It's just super fun. Goldie is such a fun little girl. We just have a hell of a time. She makes me laugh. But it has its own challenges of course. She's just about to start school tomorrow. Five years down now. It's just been magic, though. We still have the best time.