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Athlete Focus: Hollywood Stuntperformer, Heidi Moneymaker

If you've seen any of the major Hollywood action hits like the Avenger series, John Wick, or Fast & Furious, then you've seen Heidi Moneymaker. A longtime stuntwoman and actress, Heidi has navigated her way through the Hollywood film scene since the early 2000's to appear in some of the most successful action movies of all time.

With exceptional body awareness, aerial skill, and nerves of steel, forged from years of competitive gymnastics (she's a national champion at UCLA), Heidi had all the tools to succeed as a stunt performer at the highest level. 

Even with all the right stuff, however, undoubtedly even the best face challenges when the spotlight is on them, especially as the stunt double for mega-star Scarlett Johannson. That's why we got in touch with Heidi to find out what keeps here motivated, and what it's like performing some of Hollywood's most dangerous stunts, on the world's biggest stage.

 

You come from a large family and work very closely with your sister who is also a stuntwoman. When did the love for becoming a stuntwoman start?

    I was jumping off the furniture as a child. I had so much energy, my parents didn’t know what to do with me, so they enrolled me in gymnastics. I fell in love with the sport and long story short, I ended up getting a scholarship to UCLA. I then met a few ex-gymnasts that had gotten in to the business. I got my first big job as one of Drew Barrymore’s stunt doubles on Charlie’s Angel’s: Full Throttle, and I never looked back!

    You have been doing stunts in Hollywood since the early 2000's. What has changed the most in the stunt scene since then? 

      I think my first job was 2003, so I’ve been in the business for 18 years now. I would say that one of the biggest changes I see is that we are now stunt “performers”, not just stuntmen or stuntwomen. It’s very rare I show up to work and am plugged in the scene just to fall down. You are expected to be able to perform full fight scenes and be very acrobatic.

      Sometimes you are used in a scene with an actor and you have to deliver lines (shooting over your shoulder). That being said, another change Ive seen is the level to which the stunt coordinator and production is willing to keep you safe. I really applaud the men and women who came before me. They had it much harder and are serious badasses!

      Has jiu-jitsu become more popular with stuntmen over the years?

        I feel like Jiu-Jitsu has always been popular, but recently, possibly because of all the attention of the UFC, it has become much more trendy to use in fight scenes. 

        What kind of things do you need to do to keep your body and mind prepared for performing stunts on camera?

          Proper sleep, a good physiotherapist, good nutrition and a trusted team of coordinators, stunt riggers, and performers by your side.

          Do you ever get scared for new stunts or scenes? How do you handle that?

            I don’t ever do a stunt if I’m scared of it. That is an indication that something is off. I am always full of adrenaline when it comes time for a stunt, but I trust in the fact that we have properly prepped and rehearsed each stunt gag, and that even if I get banged up I’m not going to get seriously hurt.

            You have been Scarlett Johansson’s stunt double for Black Widow for so many years. What has that been like?!

              Honestly, being Scarlett’s double has been a dream. She is an incredible, beautiful, talented and lovely person to work with. We have gotten to do some great things in amazing places on these films.

              Whats your favorite activity to do outside of the training room to balance your life as a stuntwoman?

                I love to write. I wrote a script loosely based on my incredibly hilarious family that I hope to make and direct one day. 

                What’s one piece of wisdom you can share from your years as high-performing stuntwoman?

                  Work hard, but remember who and what is truly important in your life. And… BE GRATEFUL EVERY DAY!

                  Speaking of jiu-jitsu's rising popularity, do you think it should be in the Olympic Games? Get the pro's take here.

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