***Leap from a helicopter 10-stories high? Check.
***Run around engulfed in flames? Check.
***Sit in a car while submerged underwater? Check.
***Display some serious martial arts skills? Check.
Well, that's all in a day's work for one of the hardest working stunt women in Hollywood: Angela Meryl.
Ms. Meryl recently wrote a book, titled: "STUNTS: The How To Handbook. Secrets of An Award Winning Hollywood Stunt Woman." You can order her book here.
She took time out of her busy schedule (mind you, this interview was a year in the making) to share some helpful advice. Come be inspired by this awesomely talented and fearless woman-warrior.
A. On the set of the movie "First Kid," which came out in 1996, I had such an awesome experience that I kept it in the back of my head. Afterwards, I continued to get calls from
Pete Buccossi (a NY Coordinator) telling me that I could do this as a career. It was at that point that I decided to "jump in" with both feet.
Q2. Describe a typical day?
A. A typical day, if I am not on a movie set, consists of me training. Whether it's a day at the gym, martial arts classes, driving school or an acting class, I am always working and promoting myself for the next job. Even if it's something as simple as a post on FaceBook, I do something for my career everyday.
Q3. How long have you been a stunt woman?
A. I've been a stunt woman for 15 years.
Q4. Name some of the movies you have been featured in?
A. Well, a few of my favorites include Skyfall, Kill Bill: Volume 1, Pirates of The Caribbean: At World's End, Obsessed and Battleship. (FYI: For a complete list of Angela Meryl's numerous TV and film roles, head over to www.imdb.com)
Q5. Describe your childhood?
A. I talk about a few of the things I did as a child in my book that led me to this path (See Chapter 1 of her book). I was very athletic having grown up running summer track with Olympic Gold Medalist, Carl Lewis.
Q6. Were you always naturally fearless?
A. I believe I was, riding on the hoods of cars and not thinking of the consequences!
Q7. Did your parents encourage you?
A. Yes. They encouraged me to be positive and go after what I want.
Q8. What specific type of activities should parents encourage their children to try if they want to get into stunts.
A. You can get into this field coming from a professional sport. I explain all of this in the book.
Q9. Should children also think about getting into acting?
A. I believe it's important. It's about acting and reacting, whether it's to an explosion or to someone throwing a punch at you.
I believe that the classroom, as well as the theatre, is a great place to learn AND to be "vulnerable" while studying your craft.
A. When an African-American is in an action role, there's an African-American stunt double. Other than that, we do other non-descript stunt parts. It may be a crowd scene and there's a car or motorcycle going by pretty fast and they need people to jump out of the way. That's some of the work I did on Sky Fall, for example.
Q11. Who do you admire and why?
A. My mom for raising three kids and two dogs, working and going to school! Now that I have my own daughter, I can see how difficult it can be. I also admire my dad because even though they got divorced when I was young, he was always there if I needed him.
Q12. Are there more females entering the field?
A. I believe so. Since I've written the book, I am getting contacted more and more from people, women and men, asking how and where do I start. Many people may not know that this career even exists, and that you can make a living at it.
Q13. What type of attitude is required to enter this field?
A. A very positive attitude and a strong sense of self. You will hear "no" more often than "yes." And, you may be unemployed more often than employed so you better know how to save your money.
Q14. Are there any stereotypes about stunt people?
A. That stunt people can't act! But, we are "acting" all the time. Reacting to a punch, or a kick, or an explosion requires a "reaction" to make it look believable.
Q15. What scares you?
A. I have not done a stunt that scares me.
Q16. Have you sustained any major injuries?
A. Yes. I talk about it in my book.
Q17. What keeps you going?
A. I love what I do. As any other performer in this business, you are always reinventing yourself.
Q18. Please discuss your book. Why did you write it?
A. Over the past 15 years, I've been approached by countless number of people asking how they can do stunts. I have helped some people over the years but I just felt that I could give back in a much larger way if I put it all in a book. It's a very easy read and I share some stories about my life as a stunt woman and things that have helped me to be successful.
Parents can use this book in several ways. One of them is to teach their kids to "follow their heart and don't let anyone back you into a corner; doing something you know you don't want to do."
I share a situation where I had to step back and realize, "It's okay to walk away but keep your head up. And, don't be too hard on yourself."
Q19. Are there any other thoughts or comments you would like to share?
A. I want to thank you for wanting to know about my career. I LOVE what I do and plan on moving forward towards more acting roles and voiceovers. I do Elmo and a witch's voice really well!
Are you looking for sports or acting programs to get your child ready for a possible career as a stuntperson? Order my book by clicking here.
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