being a real-life FBI agent isn’t nearly as cool as tv makes it seem…
…which is exactly why I decided to pursue a career in stunts.
I was in high school, spending my afternoons on “cia.gov” as Criminal Minds played in the background, trying to find a job that perfectly combined the need for grit, cleverness, creativity, and badass fighting skills. It didn’t take long before I realized that real-life agents, while extremely badass in their own right, rarely dominate in 15-person fight sequences with only a pencil and their sadistic ingenuity, and the last thing they care about is making an audience go “OHHHHH” at the site of their latest takedown.
Fast forward a few years to my discovery of stunt performers: I was ecstatic to learn those pencil-wielding badasses DO exist, and that the stunt industry is in fact the perfect amalgamation of everything I love—martial arts, acting, and hard-freaking-work. In retrospect, my path to stunt acting began when I was a kid; but it wasn’t until college when everything fell into place.
I’ve been an athlete my entire life, first as a gymnast, then a competitive acrobatic dancer, and especially a martial artist. Martial arts has been the core of my training since I was 7—I went to a magnet school in a bad part of town and my parents insisted I needed to learn to defend myself in a way that didn’t involve tap-dancing someone to death. They signed me up for Karate classes at a nearby dojo, and at the time I don’t think any of us realized the impact that would have on my life. I soared through the ranks of my dojo all throughout grade school—earning my first-degree black belt, then my second, then my third, then becoming a sensei and teaching until leaving for college. My thirst to learn as much about martial arts as possible led me to find other styles in college, namely kickboxing and Brazilian Ju Jitsu. For a brief period of time even I believed I may have a stint as an amateur MMA fighter, until I remembered the other love of my life: performing.
Alongside all the sports and academia in my childhood, I always maintained a passion for performing. Gymnastics and dance taught me from a young age how to have a stage presence, but it wasn’t until I started theatre that I truly began to unravel my inner performing artist. In high school, I latched on to my resident thespian troupe and took part in countless acting classes, school plays, and statewide thespian competitions. I had this little acting bug growing inside me, and soon high school acting wasn’t enough to feed its appetite. So, I found acting classes outside of school at Truthful Acting Studios. I learned Meisner and Chekhov and audition technique. I got a Florida-region agent. I met and trained with real working actors for the first time and realized that I couldn’t NOT be a part of this industry. Much to my parents’ dismay, I abandoned their dream of having a third engineer-for-a-kid and went to college with visions of being a professional actress.
Now you may be wondering when my goals shifted from just acting to stunt performing. As I mentioned, I’ve always been a performer, and always been an athlete, but those two passions ran parallel like either side of a train track—never crossing. So, it wasn’t until college—a brief but transformative time in my life—when my dad sent me an article about stunt women and signed me up for the Tourist Trap Stage Combat workshop in my hometown that I realized my favorite things in the world could finally intersect: I could be a stunt performer.
And just like that, things took off: I booked a Summer gig at the stunt show All For One in Busch Gardens, Virginia. Three months later, I auditioned and booked the role of Black Widow in the touring stunt show Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes. I graduated college with an Associate’s Degree and toured the country for 13 months while learning more and more about the stunt industry. I trained, made fight videos with my fellow stunties, learned how not to make a stunt reel, became more confident in myself as a performer, and trained some more.
Shortly after my contract ended, I made the leap to Los Angeles, where I still train, still make fight videos, make better stunt reels, become even more confident in my skills, and pursue a career as a stunt performer in television and film. I take acting classes at Berg Studios, because I firmly believe that the ability to play a character is just as important as the physical demands of stunt work. I also practice the more humbling aspects of stunts: the wrecks, the grunt work, and the all-important skill of hiding your face from camera so you can work more than once on the same television show. I fine-tune my fighting and my acrobatics. I take workshops. I audition for everything I can. I network. I hustle. I train. I train. I train.
When I decided to pursue stunts, I hit the ground running. And as I’ve continued to grow in my craft and this industry, all I can say is that now I’m just ready to hit the ground.