Banzai Betty Takes It To The ‘Tube’

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - July 02, 2008
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Banzai Betty
Banzai Betty, shown here shredding at Pipeline this year, is producing a women’s extreme sports TV show

Television producer and long-time North Shore surfer “Banzai Betty” Depolito has always been a dreamer. Her latest project is proof that dreams do come true.

“It’s something that’s been in my heart for so long,” Depolito says proudly. “Women are great athletes, and this show shares that message with everyone.”

That show is FlHi Girlz Sports TV, which on Monday, June 23, made its debut on OC-16. The program is an action-packed half-hour show that brings women’s extreme sports to the rest of the world.

“I felt so proud when I watched it with (co-producer) Pake Solomon,” says the owner of Banzai Productions. “I come from a professional surfing background and I never thought girls got their fair share. I started clapping myself and said, ‘Yeah we did it!’”

Depolito says the show isn’t “extraordinarily technical,” but it is filled with solid footage of women, good stories and a strong local flavor. The show’s name FlHi (pronounced fly) is something she created herself.

“Fly means cool and the HI represents Hawaii,” she explains. “FlHi Girlz takes a look at what makes our hearts tick. Women are kind of shy about the exposure, but when they get down to doing it they’re very aggressive, and how cool is that?”

Depolito says she was motivated to chase her dream for several reasons.

“When Pake and I watched it, we thought Aunty Rell would be so proud,” says Depolito of the late Rell Sunn, a pioneer of women sports. “I said it before and I will say it again, I am tired of all the okole shots in surf videos and on TV. We are much more than pretty faces. That was my motivation!”

Depolito says there are many great women athletes in Hawaii but she believes women only receive a tenth of the coverage men do. She is convinced FlHi Girlz Sports TV will change that.

“Women are very serious about the sports they participate in and a venue like this will help tell their stories,” she says. “The trends are changing quite rapidly, and

I’m proud of the part we’re playing and happy with the contributions we’re making. I knew there was a little place for me,” she laughs.

The show is hosted by Kori Harvey, a surfer who has also studied acting and film.

“This is fun,” says Harvey. “I am able to do a little acting as well as introducing star athletes to the public. Our goal is to promote, promote, promote. As a surfer, I am totally into the lifestyle and can appreciate the difficulty of the different sports.”

Depolito has secured a full-year commitment from OC-16 and will produce a new show every month. Once the summer months are behind them, she says viewers can expect a lot more extreme sports.

“We’ll have girls getting towed into 20-foot waves, kite surfing and wind surfing in big North Shore surf and everything in between,” she says with excitement. “The women are stoked and I hope this show will inspire other women to go for it!”

She may not realize it but she’s already inspired women - and men - to go for it; especially when it comes to chasing down dreams.


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