Tell about yourself, Courtney!
My name is Courtney Noelle Morrill. I am a stunt performer just getting into the business and an aerialist (aerial silks and Lyra)! I’ve always been captivated by stunts. Throughout my childhood and into adulthood this never changed. Immediately after graduating high school, I started stunt training with Banzai Vitale. Through his Stunt Performers Academy [http://stuntperformersacademy.com] sessions I have had the opportunity to learn from some amazing stunt professionals.
Each one sharing their experience and knowledge gained throughout the years within the industry- every bit of information I receive I hold with an immense amount of respect and appreciation. I always strive towards growth and improvement, whether it be my fight intensity, my sells during a high fall, my acting during a fire burn, or my skills with aerial silks and lyra!
My passion for stunts started when I was three years old and with the support of so many wonderful people in my life, I have been able to work towards a career in stunts!
What inspired you to become a stunt person?
From a young age - I never dreamed about being a "princess" as many young girls do and this was something that never changed for me as I grew up - I wanted to do stunts. When I was little, I would dress up in my “little Helen” outfit and go watch WaterWorld at Universal Studios, Hollywood.
As I got older, I eventually stopped dressing up when I went (it would have been a little strange if I didn't…) but I still continued to go and appreciate the performers! It was all the performers past and present within that show that inspired me. The art they create and the story they tell through physical illusions is intriguing. This path of passion, hard work, and community was one that deeply inspired me.
Since I started pursuing stunts, my biggest inspiration has been my mentor, Banzai Vitale! Through the invaluable knowledge he's shared and his support, he has shown me that there's this whole different world to stunts than just live shows and has only further fueled my desire to be a stunt player.
What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it?
Although there's always room for growth, I feel as though my strongest skills are my fights/reactions and hitting the floor. The idea that each strike, each hit, tells a story and serves a purpose is something that I have always worked towards conveying. I love watching movies and TV shows, seeing a stunt and having that moment of "damn that looks like it hurt" - that is the energy I try to embody every time I have the opportunity to perform.
It definitely helps to have talked and gained knowledge from some badass individuals within the industry. I take any advice given to me and hold onto it - the more knowledgeable I can be, the better I can be for any teammates I am lucky enough to work for and with!
What is the best part about being a stunt performer?
For me personally the best part about being a stunt performer is the constant opportunity to learn and create. No matter where you are in your career, there is always room to learn! Whether you're doing a stunt, watching a stunt, folding boxes, or moving pads - there is always an opportunity to learn and therefore always an opportunity to become more able and adaptable to create!
What advice would you give other stunt people?
Even though I am newer to the industry and there are FAR more knowledgeable and experienced performers/coordinators that are better equipped to offer advice. The one piece of advice I would offer is to never give up on your dreams. Throughout middle and high school, a lot of teachers and counselors never supported that I wanted to get into stunts. They would often ask “If you want to do stunts why try so hard to get A’s And B’s?”
I would always tell them that regardless of what it is that I am doing - I am always going to try my best! As a stunt performer I would want the coordinator and my team members to know that I am going to bring only my best work to set. I think it is important to remember that no matter what your dream is, the only way to achieve it is by staying humble, working hard, and being determined.
Professionals such as Dar Robinson, Yakima Canutt, and Helen Gibson worked hard and their accomplishments have allowed me the opportunity to pursue stunts! They were great examples that no dream is ever achieved if it is given up on.
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