Picks and Pans Review: Bethany Hamilton

updated 04/18/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/18/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT


Gearing up for the premiere of Soul Surfer, the new movie based on her life story, Bethany Hamilton has just one gripe. "It's kind of distracting," says the 21-year-old Hawaii native, who made headlines in 2003 when a tiger shark bit off her left arm. "I didn't get to surf today, and I normally surf every day."

A fixture on Surfer's Oahu set, Hamilton says she found the filmmaking process "gnarly" and has since become close friends with actress AnnaSophia Robb, who plays her in the movie: "We went snowboarding the other day in Breckenridge!" Despite the odds, Hamilton is now a top-ranked pro surfer-"I just have to position myself in a proper spot on the board"-who travels the globe meeting amputees and shark-attack survivors through her nonprofit group Friends of Bethany. What's next? "I don't really plan it," she says. "You just hope a swell comes and you're ready."

Soul Surfer opens April 8.

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