Interview With Stuntwoman Tammie Baird

By Ruth on April 18, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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I have the Artemis Film Festival to thank yet again for another amazing connection with this beautiful, talented stuntwoman and actress–Tammie Baird. She and I had a delightful conversation a few weeks back, and we discussed a wide variety of topics, including how she got started in this profession, her aspirations in the business, and the passion she feels for specific charity work. (I can hardly wait to actually meet her in a few days!)

RH: Nice to get to talk with you, Tammie. 

TB: Glad it worked out to talk with you, too, Ruth

Were you at the Artemis Film Festival last year?

Not last year, but the first year I was.

I didn’t think you were there last year. I was there last year, but not the first year. But I will be coming this year, and my daughter will be with me.

That’s great! My sister will be coming this year, too. So we’ll look forward to seeing you there.

How did you decide to become a stuntwoman?

The way that I became a stuntwoman is absolutely awesome. I was working as a personal assistant to a stunt coordinator–not his stunt assistant, but his personal assistant. I would show up to work, and I’d have to do everything he told me to. It was a horrible job, but I was so grateful to have it ’cause I needed a job to pay my bills.

It just so happened that a stunt job came up, and I booked it. When I booked this acting/stunt role,  I considered it full-on acting. It was really hard. I had to flirt with Brad Pitt’s character across the room–give him a “come hither” look. Angelina Jolie’s character shoots me, and two squib heads go off, and I die. And then Brad Pitt had to kill my partner, and so we both died. Sadly, it was cut from the film. But during that moment when the squib heads went off, I call that my “Tennessee Williams Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” moment–without any alcohol–because everything just clicked. It was like, “This is what you’re supposed to do, Tammie.” And it was like everything when I was growing up…my grandmother was a horse trainer when I was growing up, so I lived on a racetrack with her.  My cousin, my brother and I were like these wild, feral kids running and pretending like we were horses. We climbed trees. We would just be crazy. My brother and I skateboarded, roller skated, rode Motocross. So all the things I had done prior to that moment all made sense. I knew this was where I was supposed to be now.

Then I told my boss, “Yay! I’m going to be a stuntwoman!” And he was like, “No, no, no!” I stayed with him for a couple more films. During that time he tried to get me to not want to be a stunt person, but I kept coming back like a puppy dog. “What else you got for me? What else you got for me?” So finally he was like, “Go be a stuntwoman!”

That’s really cool how that happened. Now, I was reading that when you were growing up, your mother didn’t really want you involved in all this dangerous stuff.

Oh yeah, I have that on my IMDB page, and my mom hates it!  My mother was an exercise girl. She could do that, but then me growing up, her one and only daughter, or at least at the time one and only. Now I have four sisters. Her daughter wasn’t supposed to do all this physical stuff. I would do gymnastics, and I loved gymnastics. She went to one of my practices. I had begged her to come, “Mom, please come watch me. I’m really good.” She used to say about my body, “Tammie, your body is a piece of glass. You have to treat it like such.” So she made me quit everything.

The funny thing is that my brother could ride a dirt bike no problem. My mom and I would go watch him, and he would be out on the track, and my mom would say, “Tammie, I’ll be right back. Watch your brother.” She would leave to go wherever she went to, and my brother would come up to me and say, “You wanna ride a bike?” And I’d be like, “Yeah, I do.” So I would go on a ride, and sometimes I would fall or whatever. And she’d come back, and I’d get off the bike before she saw me. She’d ask, “What happened to your knee?” And I’d be like, “I was running. I tripped and I fell.” So I’d have to lie to my mom my whole life. It’s actually funny that I became a stuntwoman. When I was a child, she never let me do anything, but she got to do whatever she wanted.

I have run into protective parents like that, but at least in your case, you got to do what you wanted to do anyway. And that’s good.

But I had to be defiant and do it against my mother’s will. The funny thing about that is I’m a horrible liar. but I had to lie to my mother when I was growing up. Maybe it was because I was the firstborn–there’s six of us all together. One brother who’s just a little bit younger, and then all the rest are sisters. So with the others, maybe it was just–do whatever you want. And she is very proud of me now. And she absolutely encourages me now. But as a child, not so much.

It sounds like she’s learned to let you be who you are, and I think that can be hard sometimes. When I was growing up, I was very feminine, but my daughter is the total opposite. She’s a tomboy.

Well, you never know. When I wanted to be a model, my mom was very supportive of that career because I guess there was no harm that could come to me.  But there are unseen perils in any career. I think it was just easier to see the dangers with being a stuntwoman.

So you started out as an actress and then moved into being a stuntwoman?

I moved to Los Angeles to pursue being an actress. I had wanted to act forever. All I’d ever wanted to be was a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, an actor or a model. That was all I ever wanted to be. I never became a cheerleader. I think I picked the Dallas Cowboys ’cause I liked their outfits. But I loved acting because it was such a release, you know what I mean? You could be whatever you wanted. You could pretend to be anyone. So I moved to LA at the end of 2001. I was like, “I’m here LA. I’m gonna be an actor now.” I had no idea it would be so hard. I’m still trying to be an actress, although I make my living as a stuntwoman. I love it. I even do more acting as a stuntwoman had I not become a stuntwoman.

I believe in the theory of “yes,” ’cause you open yourself up to opportunities. Had I not worked as a personal assistant, I would never have booked that part. Who knows where my life would be?

I like the way you put that–just say yes. That’s what I’ve done the past two years. My whole journey is really amazing and kinda crazy at times.  But I suppose that’s true for us all. {pause} Since you were there for the first year of the festival, how did you get connected with the Artemis?

It was through Melanie {Wise}. She reached out to me and invited me over to her house for a barbecue. She seemed like such a nice person. She introduced herself and said she’d love for me to meet her friends and help out with this festival she was doing. Even though I didn’t know her, I accepted her invitation and went over and met everybody. They were super sweet. She asked if I would be on their panel at the festival. And I was like, “Of course I will.” And from that, I just kept a relationship with her.

So you weren’t able to come last year because–

I was either involved in a project or had a family vacation. Either one. The only reason I don’t do something is either because of my family. They always come first. Or if I’m working on a project.

So this year you’ll be there, and you’re getting an award, correct?

Yes, I will be there, and I am getting an award, the Stunt Icon Award. I am very honored to be receiving it–in fact, to even have been considered is an honor. I am honored to be a part of this with the other recipients, these women and men whom I have such respect for. I’m excited, honored, and thrilled. I love that Melanie does this. It’s a love project for her. When you talk with her, you can tell how much she loves this industry and these women and wants to encourage them to be strong. When you talk to her, you can’t help but absorb that energy. It’s infectious.

I know Jen Caputo is also going to be receiving an award this year, and she is absolutely amazing. And if you talk to both Andy {Armstrong} and her, you want to record every single word they say and play it over and over again. They’re both so ridiculously talented and kind. No ego. They are both modest, but their talent is so amazing.

I had so much fun interviewing both of them. The exchange between them was so cute to see. It made no difference who spoke, and they would always yield to each other. And that was neat to see because you don’t always see that kind of relationship between couples in the business. Neither one of them suffered from an ego.

They are both so talented. I have Andy’s book. I would love for Jen to write a book ’cause I would definitely buy that as well.

Do you have any recent or upcoming works that you’d like to mention?

I can say that I’m on the cast list for the new Twin Peaks show that’s coming out in May. I cannot say anything else about it. But I am so excited about it. I have had to sit on it for a whole year and a half. I can’t wait for it to come out! I signed what I call a Rumplestiltskin NDA {Non-Disclosure Agreement} that is so big that if I say anything else, I think I have to give up my firstborn child. {laughs}

I’ve been working on a bunch of television shows that are filmed in Los Angeles.  I haven’t done any amazing, big, ginormous stunts lately, but I’m staying so active, working consistently, which is what my goal is as a stuntwoman. It’s just to work. I know I did some work on a show called Teachers. I double this amazing actress, Katy Colloton. And I love her. Then I also was recently interviewed for Corey Eubanks Stunt Stories. And then it’s back to Mexico for Fear the Walking Dead. I’ve been consistently working, and I’m just absolutely grateful for that.

I have noticed that as women get older in this stunt business, it seems like there is a difference in the stunt jobs that you get offered. I’m not sure what it is, but I wish it weren’t that way. But I have consistent work, so I’m happy.

with Corey Eubanks
Stunt Stories

I highly recommend that you look into Stunt Stories. Corey Eubanks is filming these Stunt Stories now. The plan  is that he will have some sort of channel that you can subscribe to, and it’s all stories behind the scenes, amazing stunt stories of men and women all at different levels. Debbie Evans was with me in the recent one I did, and she’s one of my heroes that I respect. So the fact that we were both being interviewed is super exciting. I definitely recommend Stunt Stories to everyone–actors, writers, producers, directors–anyone who wants to be in the industry should want to know what stunt people go through. I know Corey is interviewing second unit directors, coordinators who started off as stuntmen who are now coordinating and directing. And for anyone who writes and wants to know what goes into those stunts, it will be an amazing thing. I went to one recently. I knew two of the stuntmen, and two I didn’t. But after hearing all their stories, I was just like, “Wow, I had no idea.” I feel bad for anyone who didn’t get to see it live, but thankfully they can subscribe to the channel when it comes out and watch it later.

Do you have any aspirations to do any directing, producing or writing?

I am currently writing, but my ultimate goal is producing. I love writing; it’s another outlet that I have. And I would love to produce what I write. At this point, I do not think directing is right for me. But I definitely would like to hire the right team to be able to see my vision for my projects. I’m kind of writing little, silly stuff right now, but eventually I’d like to branch out.

Nothing wrong with writing the simple, silly stuff. That’s how it all begins. But producing–I don’t think I could ever imagine myself doing that. I’ve done writing. I’ve directed so many school programs–too many to count. I always greatly respect the people who are able to go out and hire the right people because that requires a skill I don’t know if I have yet.

That’s a great place where you’re in–“I’m not sure yet.” Whether you produce or not one day, just don’t ever say no. Know it’s always there. You might not be ready now, but don’t go completely nixing the idea.

Oh yeah, I’ve learned not to say I’m never gonna do something because about the time I say that, an opportunity comes up and either I have to or I want to do it. {pause} Now, I know you mentioned a charity that you feel strongly about.

I like to stay local with my giving back, so a lot of the things I do I make sure they’re from LA or from my hometown. One of the things I want to start doing here in LA is buy tampons and maxi pads and give them to the homeless. I know there’s a charity somewhere here in LA, but I don’t know where, so I will be researching that. While I’ve never been homeless nor without tampons, this need got brought to my attention last year. And I thought that would be horrible. Not only are you homeless and you have no money, and you’re like, “Hey, excuse me sir, can you spare some change?” You get money, so what do you do with this five-dollar bill? Do you use it for food or to get tampons? And that has to be such a horrible thing for women. It just breaks my heart, so I decided I have to find this charity. I need to find out if I am supposed to give money or if I’m supposed to put the packets together for the women.

I was in foster care for a while when I was young, and I want to become a foster parent, but as a single woman, I’m finding I’m having a hard time doing that. So I’m gonna find out if there’s a way to do some sort of charity for foster children so that siblings don’t get separated. My brother and I got separated, and I thought that was horrible. I mean we got back together and then went to live on the racetrack I talked about, but it was terrible to be separated.

So those are the two charities I’m focused on right now.

I know that Andy Armstrong is really big on the Taurus foundation which is something I know I need to donate more to. So what I’m doing is updating my website at a snail’s pace, but what I want to do is make a little store. I have people who are always asking me for autographs, and I have no problem giving an autograph and sending it back. But I thought, “Well, I do pay shipping and handling.” So my plan is to say I can do an autograph for five dollars. So they can send me a Paypal of five dollars, and I’ll take that five dollars and donate that to the Taurus Foundation. I would have paid for that headshot anyway. So I would like for my website to have places where different things go to these three charities. I think that ten percent of our income should go to charities.

Tammie, I’m so glad you feel that way! That is my policy too when it comes to charities. I just want to thank you for chatting with me today. I look forward to meeting you at the festival.

Definitely! We’ll make sure we meet up.

 

Tammie is one of those effervescent, energetic women who exhibit such exuberance it’s a workout to keep up with her enthusiasm. Indeed, her joie de vivre is infectious, and she is one of the most positive people I know. Even in the midst of a society where negativity is the status quo, Tammie deliberately resists that way of thinking. She doesn’t spend her time complaining about what’s not right with the world or her life. Instead, she chooses to focus on what IS right. 

Additionally, Tammy genuinely cares about others. She patiently listened to my many life stories–she was very easy to talk to, and that doesn’t always happen in interviews. But she lives by that rule–to whom much is given, much is required. She easily empathizes with the plight of foster children, and her heart breaks for women who are homeless and don’t have what any woman would consider essential supplies. 

Tammie is someone who always improves any room just by her very presence. Furthermore, her prowess as both being an actress and a stuntwoman is something that has enabled her to pursue her dreams. And there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that she absolutely revels and excels in her work because she loves it. I mean, what young woman wouldn’t want to become a stuntwoman after spending some time chatting with her?

I greatly anticipate meeting Tammie in person this Thursday at the festival, and her upcoming works intrigue me to no end. Please consider checking out all of Tammie’s links below and following her on social media. This is a woman who can not only brighten your day with a kind word or thought, but there is a good chance you may have admired her work (without realizing it) in the wide variety of projects to which she has been privileged to be attached.

FOLLOW TAMMIE

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

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