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

MAKING WAVES

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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