Thanks to the Artemis Film Festival, I have great respect and curiosity concerning stuntwomen. In truth, I often am in awe of their work, and whenever I happen upon one in the profession with whom I am not familiar, I take great delight in highlighting them. Recently, Angela Meryl took some time to answer a few questions about her career, and although we barely scratched the surface of the amazing work she has done, I am pleased to be able to share a bit about Angela, who contentedly works in a profession that viewers often overlook.
RH: Why did you decide to become a stuntwoman?
AM: I decided to become a stuntwoman after my first job on First Kid. It was such a great experience! There was no looking back after that. Performing stunts as a profession was what I really wanted to do.
What is your typical training regimen as a stuntwoman?
Every day is different. Some days I may be driving at a track, training with firearms, or practicing martial arts. I could also spend a day with my trainer strengthening my body after an injury.
Do you have a favorite stunt?
My favorite stunts are fighting scenes. It’s tough to say which stunt is my favorite. The fight scenes from the movies Kill Bill, Obsessed, The Perfect Guy and When The Bough Breaks are my favorites.
I also like stunts that involve driving. Some of my favorite ones are my ambulance crash on Grey’s Anatomy, the car chase on American Horror Story, when I doubled for Angela Bassett, and Fast and Furious 7 and 8, just to name a few.
As a woman in stunts, have you experienced gender bias issues?
I have experienced this where men have doubled for women because of one reason or another. They (Production/ Stunt Coordinator/Director) felt a woman was not able to do the job. This is slowly coming to an end as more and more extremely talented women are proving that they are more than capable of performing difficult stunts.
Have you seen the perception of stuntwomen in the entertainment business change in recent years?
Yes, I have. You see this particularly in a lot of the Marvel or Action movies/shows like Resident Evil, The Hunger Games, Salt, and Underworld. Women have lead roles in these movies, and the stunts are being performed by women.
What are the challenges in being both a stuntwoman and actress?
For me right now, it’s which training do I invest my money in? Is it martial arts, driving classes, cars or do I invest in improv (I have a comedic side) or acting classes, or workshops?
What are the benefits?
Being able to perform stunts and act make me marketable in the movie and tv business. I’m able to get more work, so I stay busy.
On the acting side, I recently shot two short films. I audition for movie and TV projects regularly.
On the stunt side, I did some driving on the upcoming movie Fast & Furious 8 and King, doubling for Halle Berry, just to name a few.
Any plans to eventually write/direct/produce?
Yes, I have written down many film ideas. I have a creative mind that’s constantly working overtime. While I love being in front of the camera, I wouldn’t mind being on the other side, having my ideas become a reality.
I would love to work with Viola Davis, Meryl Streep and Morgan Freeman. They are phenomenal actors. I really admire their work. They breathe so much life into the characters they portray.
How do you balance your personal and professional life in such a time-consuming profession as this?
It can be challenging. It’s always a balancing act. I have a family that I love to spend time with, but I have to be flexible with my daily schedule. I never know what’s going to come up and when. I may have to do a quick audition, be on set or fly to a location as soon as possible.
What is your advice to young people considering a stunt career?
Train as much as you can in many different areas: martial arts, boxing, gymnastics, etc. Always be honest about your skills, never oversell yourself, and find a mentor, if possible.
What do you do to unwind when you’re not working?
I play!!! I have spa days and massages. I like to watch movies and TV. While I try to get as much R&R as possible, I do spend some of that time training and looking for more work.
Now, I would say that Angela is a “typical” stuntwoman, but I believe I would be doing this remarkable woman a disservice if I said she was “typical,” for being a stuntwoman is anything but! What I will say is that her dedication to her craft–both acting and stunts–is something I admire in the extreme. Even as a woman who has no desire to go out and do “kickass” stunts, I believe that her example is one from which all women around the world can benefit. All too often, women are told what they should or should not do. Even in a forward-thinking, Western civilization, views and opinions about women are often old-fashioned and outdated. It is women like Angela who go against the norms in society and demonstrate that women can do more than what the antiquated and sometimes chauvinistic mindset dictates. I salute Angela for her persistence in a profession that is often under-recognized and under-appreciated as well as underestimated. The credits to Angela’s name read like a stunt primer, and the fact that she had added acting to her tool belt is even more impressive, in my view. Be sure that you check out all of Angela’s links below and consider following her via social media. And the next time you go to see your favorite actress in an action flick or watch an action-packed sequence on your favorite TV show, consider that a stuntwoman probably doubled that actress you’re so crazy about. And thank God she did because our movies would be immeasurably yawn-worthy without those phenomenally-skilled women!
Also, Angela is an author, so I would invite you to check out her book and consider purchasing it if you are so inclined.
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