Despite being born and raised in Vancouver, Canada—which she makes evident when she inquires about Complex's "washroom"—Serinda Swan didn't have a typical upbringing. By the time she was 7 years old, her mom, overcome with wanderlust, uprooted their lives and moved Serinda and her older sister to Kauai, Hawaii, where she lived on and off through high school.
"I didn't have much of a social life growing up. I was into gymnastics when I was younger, so I ended up cutting my hair short. I looked like a little Russian gymnast boy. The sport was really aggressive, so I didn't fit in too well. It's great that I moved a lot because people who were in my school or in my class didn't get to define me."
"I have really amazing parents who love to travel and, growing up, it wasn't necessarily for work. They just wanted to travel. My mom is sort of a nomad; she actually doesn't live anywhere. When people ask, 'Where does your mom live', I say, 'Well, where is she right now in the world?' Right now she's in Malaysia; she was in India before that, and before that she was in Norway and Sweden. Before that, Costa Rica. She literally doesn't have a permanent address. I mean, you can say she lives in Vancouver because that's where the rest of my family and my sister is. But my mom has this beautiful crazy soul that isn't tied to anything in the material world. Her thought is, 'Oh, you want to go somewhere? Go! You want to go play in the forest? Go! Just remember where the house is. And if you don't, I'll come looking for you tomorrow.' My dad is the same way."
"As soon as I graduated, my dad and my stepmom took me Europe, all through the French Riviera. Then, my mom took me through the Mayan Riviera. We took a canoe up a river and then ran into Guatemala and went hiking around the jungle there.
"There was no specific religion that they were tied to, just a lot of encouragement to figure out what makes sense to us. Now, I'm studying with an enlightenment master out in Malaysia. It’s not a religion. It's just knowledge and information, very Dalai Lama-esque, and it suits me perfectly. It’s finding what makes you live the best life, what makes you live the best of you, no matter what religion that is.
"I've gotten a little bit of everything from my travels in life. You finally see how big the world is and it pops the bubble we tend to grow up in: "My high school is the only high school that matters," and "That's the only popular crowd in the whole wide world and if they don't like me, hmph!"
"I want to go Greece. That's a selfish one, not a philanthropic one. I would go back to Cambodia or Malaysia at anytime because that's where the headquarters of Friends for Mankind is, and Cambodia is where my girls are for the Somali Mam foundation. I haven't been there for almost a year. Last time I was there I did an awareness campaign where I cycled across Cambodia from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. That was amazing, but definitely not one my agents wanted to see. [Laughs.]"