Skip to content

When Life Throws a Curve Ball, Hit a Home Run

February 7, 2013

It’s a typical day on my contract. I’ve just finished eight hours of singing and dancing for thousands of people and I am exhausted in the best kind of way. I’ve removed the copious gobs of stage makeup and once again look like a normal human being. I’m walking through hot tropical rain and watching the sun set over the island I work on. Feeling at peace with the day of shows, my cast mates and I decide to treat ourselves to a nice dinner on the resort and fall deep into interesting conversation about show business and all the crazy adventures it can lead to.

We have all come from different corners of the world; Australia, Britain, South Africa, America. We’ve developed from different artistic fields; singers, dancers, actors, gymnasts. Some of us are fresh out of college, some are veterans in the industry, and some have just come from jobs that have nothing to do with the arts. Though we are as varied as a group of people could be, we all ended up in the same show, on the same island, singing the same songs, day after day…and we all have pretty remarkable stories about how we got here.

There was never a moment in my life where I pictured myself living and working the way I do here, at this moment. I thought maybe I would do some community theatre as a teenager and then get a “real job” after college. I thought I might take a few vacations throughout my lifetime but I never imagined that I would be living on the equator, fighting thunderstorms and all manner of nightmarish bugs, eating delicious food that I can’t pronounce and talking to my tech crew in different languages.

As the only Caucasians in the room, we sit down to eat dinner on this little slice of heaven we call our place of business. As conversation picks up about where life will take us next, one common theme seems to be apparent in everyone’s story; a subdued yearning to break into one of the more exclusive, lesser known fields of this industry. Don’t get me wrong, I could sing and dance for the rest of my life and feel completely fulfilled. But for the past few years, I’ve had an unyielding desire to actively pursue a career as a stunt woman.

I know the extent of how outlandish and random this sounds, but when I was 19 I got a job as a singer in a live stunt show and have romanticized the life of a stunt woman ever since. As a young, naïve performer just starting to audition for professional work, I was overwhelmed and overjoyed by the fact that I actually landed a job where I got to swing over my audience on ropes, get into choreographed fist fights, and shoot real guns. My job felt like playing on a gigantic playground and living a real life fairy tale. I was the youngest one in the cast, and the people I worked with were like rock stars to me. I picked their brain about how they survived in the cut-throat field of stunts and hung on every word they said.

I learned about making reels and marketing yourself to no end, heard stories of showing up to movie shoots and haggling for work, and experienced the painstaking training you have to go through to ready your body and skillset for this kind of career. With the resources at my fingertips, I begged and bartered for my cast mates to give me acrobatics lessons, teach me how to take hits without injuring myself, and train my body to be stronger. I installed a pull up bar in my bedroom and, in the words of a fellow performer: “entered an entirely new threshold of pain”. But the payoff of discovering something radical and new (that frankly made me feel like kind of a badass) was more than enough to compensate for some muscle aches. After three years of working in a stunt show and having more fun on stage than I ever thought possible, musical theatre jobs started to pick up and I left the show to take up other contracts.

I conclude my fantastical dinner story with a confession to my cast that I haven’t the slightest clue how to actually succeed in the industry of stunt work and probably lack the necessary skills/physique to make that dream a reality. Nonetheless, I’m going to continue training when I can, look for opportunities, and include stunts in my show reel due to the fact that I can’t ever completely shake this craving. This declaration is met with a barrage of similar wishes from my cast mates about dying to break into the voiceover industry, work as a professional acrobat, and even get into motion capture work (for movies and video games).

I am practically drooling over the idea of voiceovers or acrobatics and my cast mates are starry-eyed at the thought of movie stunts. But like me, they haven’t a clue how to get started with these types of ambiguous yet fantastic career paths (much less how to make a living off of them). Moreover, we’re usually so busy with our “normal” jobs as singer/dancers that we lack the time to properly pursue this type of work.

But before I completely shove these ideas under the rug, I can’t help reminding myself that I live on a tropical island I knew nothing about a few months ago and spend my days singing K-pop songs while hip hop dancing…this wasn’t exactly part of the plan….or a subversion of the plan….or even a shred of an idea that could one day resemble a plan. Years ago I walked into a vocal audition for my stunt show with no clue what I was getting into and ended up feeling more comfortable fighting and shooting than I have singing and dancing in any other show I’ve been cast in. Who’s to say in a few months I wont stumble on another opportunity and hit it out of the park.  Life has a way of continually surprising you, why not dream big?

The Reckless Artist sig

Advertisements
5 Comments leave one →
  1. The College Theatre Dork permalink
    February 7, 2013 12:46 pm

    This sounds absolutely incredible! And the thought of being a stunt-person makes me drool.

    …and this is why I can’t commit to a “five year plan”. My life changes miraculously so much in a year that why should I plan out the other four? Sometimes, you have to see where the wind blows!

  2. katelyn permalink
    February 10, 2013 7:03 am

    Oh my gosh! I’ve recently considered the same idea of breaking into the stunt world. I admit in the past few weeks its taken its place on the back burner, but its there and knowing me, I know I will visit it in the future for real. I dont really know where to begin either and I don’t know any other stunt people. Glad to know u here. Keep me posted with this new passion of yours and if I can help you with gymnastics or anything ( even just support!) Please let me know. Proud of ya for embarking on some new reckless path 🙂

  3. February 10, 2013 7:06 am

    (Im trying this again since i wasnt signed in as the newbie actor)

    Oh my gosh! I’ve recently considered the same idea of breaking into the stunt world. I admit in the past few weeks its taken its place on the back burner, but its there and knowing me, I know I will visit it in the future for real. I dont really know where to begin either and I don’t know any other stunt people. Glad to know u here. Keep me posted with this new passion of yours and if I can help you with gymnastics or anything ( even just support!) Please let me know. Proud of ya for embarking on some new reckless path

    • TheRecklessArtist permalink
      February 10, 2013 8:47 am

      Thanks, you too! Keep me informed on your progress and maybe we can help each other out with some useful info…..who knows, some day our paths might cross!

  4. February 19, 2013 9:29 am

    What I love most about this post is far it is from my own experience with the industry, and yet I still see some similarities in tone and the desire to branch out and master something I have no idea yet how to master. It’s wonderful to see so much bravery and enthusiasm here. I look forward to seeing how things unfold for you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: