Updated: Jul 24, 2020
Brennan Shyn Dyson was born in St. Louis, MO and moved to Los Angeles, CA as a young child. His mother and four siblings took a great risk and started a new life in California where he found success after his years of education. Brennan was a quiet and determined man with success on his mind. Desiring to have an extraordinary career in Hollywood as a model, Brennan ventured in that direction.
After just over 2 years of modeling for Nike, Gatorade and other popular brands, he decided that he needed more, much more. While he did love modeling and found it quite rewarding, it didn’t provide the excitement and challenge that he needed. Thus, his search was on again.
Brennan’s thirst for a healthy mind and body drove him to pursue his training regimen with extreme discipline and determination. His daily routine of exercise and weight training led him to a gym that many others in the industry frequented. One day while working out someone asked him if he had any interest in adding supplements to his current fitness repertoire to which he replied, “This is all natural.”
His muscular build and sportsman like appearance gained the attention of a local stuntman who asked if he was as athletic as he appeared to be. He shared that he had played 4 years of semi-pro where Mark Riccardi recommended he try his hand at stunts. This was all that was needed to open a door for him with Chester Tripp. Brennan shared his contact information with Chester and a couple weeks later his phone rang.
That phone call was the beginning of more than 24 years of success in the Hollywood stunt business. The role being cast was that of the double for Michael Dorn as ‘Worf’ on Star Trek Deep Space 9. He was in that role on the series for over 7 years. This role was great for Brennan and brought him much success but not without challenge. During an intense fight scene Brennan was thrown through a plate glass wall where he fractured his lower back. Being so tough and rugged was an awesome saving grace for Brennan because he didn’t know for 2 years that he had suffered the pressure fracture.
He remained on the show until its last episode in 1998. Brennan went on to take stunt roles in other primetime TV Series such as “Diagnosis Murder”, “Malcom and Eddie” and “Charmed” to name a few.
From there he began taking roles in movies performing stunts. His first stunt role in a movie was in “Storybook – The Enchanted Attic” under the stunt coordinator Red Horton. Movies agreed with Brennan’s skills and he went on to perform in “Jingle All The Way”, “Face Off”, “The Siege”, “Shaft”, “Star Trek: Nemesis”, “S.W.A.T.”, “Transformers”, “G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra”, “The Expendables”, “Avatar” and “Star Trek: Into Darkness” just to name a few.
A major career boost came when Brennan met LL Cool J while doubling him on “Halloween H20: 22 Years Later” where he landed the permanent role of stunt double for LL Cool J which he currently enjoys to perform on NCIS LA which is in its 12th season on CBS.
In 2004, Brennan joined the International Stunt Association (ISA), an exclusive invitation-only fraternal organization that was formed in 1980 by the top 2nd Unit Directors, Stunt Coordinators and Stuntmen and women that Hollywood had to offer. He currently serves on the Board as the Treasurer of the ISA.
This prestigious group provides Action Choreography and Directing, Vehicle Prep and Choreography, Wire Rigging, Motion Capture and they specialize in fights ranging from “Hong Kong” style to “Classic Brawling” and Aerial Movement Gymnastics. Brennan has many skills that allow him to be so versatile in the stunts that he can perform.
For instance, in November of 2007 he became the first African American stuntman to be licensed as a helicopter pilot. In May of 1997 he became a certified scuba diver. He also trained as a boxer. With this impressive list of qualifications, he is a perfect fit for the ISA.
Over the years Brennan has had to endure some hardships and overcome numerous injuries that often seemed would be career ending but each time, he battled back and was stronger than ever. He has exhibited an extreme level of humility and gratitude for all God has given him and he looks forward to many, many more years in the industry. Currently, he is expanding his experience in the industry as an actor, executive producer, director, 2nd Unit director, stunt coordinator and film editor.
What inspired you to become a stunt person, Brennan?
Playing professional football. I thought it was a very unique field in the industry and thought I could cross over and implement my on the field skills to become on film skills and use my abilities and agility to enhance the world of stunts from my point of view.
The stunt world of the TV/film industry was so unique, and it requires skills that I would normally implement on the field while playing professional football prior to my stunt career. Once I realized that my skill and abilities could enhance the art of stunts, I was inspired to do so from my point of view.
What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer and your story behind it?
Form to fit. Mimicking the actor. Being able to mentally feel and see the physical emotion to mimic the stunt for the required action.
In the last 30 years I have gained so many skills from helicopter flying to scuba diving. But I would have to say the skill I’m most proud of is flawlessly mimicking the actor that I am doubling. Each actor is so different and we’re always required to learn their nuances in order to portray physical emotions through our action.
What is the best part about being a stunt performer?
I’m able to contribute to the world of action/entertainment. Nothing happens without us, and it gives us a platform and voice in Hollywood.
The best part is contributing to the world of action and entertainment. On the day, we make movie magic happen in ways that most other departments can’t. I love the ins and outs of visual storytelling - most stories would be nothing without our work.
I’m proud to be a member the International Stunt Association for the last 16 years. I’m proud of the fact that my Daughters Mariah & Saida Dyson are able to follow in my footsteps doing stunts on a few shows, TV & Film. And I’m proud of the work I do, and I hope to use my voice on platforms like these in Hollywood.
What advice would to give stunt people?
The 3 L’s: Look, Listen, and Learn. Treat each stunt as if it’s your first. It’s not what you do in life its about what you inspire in others. Each one, teach one. This is not an extreme sport. Every stunt is about precision and being precise. And you're only as good as your last job, and have more talent than what is required because all money isn’t good money... be careful of the jobs you choose because someone else’s life is in your hands.
Your career as a stunt professional depends on how well you and others around you can pay attention to details. Every job requires precision. Be teachable, willing to learn along with the willingness to share and teach other stunt professionals around you.
Stunt Players Directory: https://www.stuntplayers.com/player/brennan-dyson/