Tell about yourself and stunts, Kara!
When I was 13, having recently left competitive gymnastics for cheerleading, I heard about a stunt training course for kids offered by stunt coordinator Mike Cassidy called [Stuntkids.com]. There I learned high falls, rappelling, wire work, and the fundamentals of pursuing a stunt career including getting headshots, making a resume, hustling and joining SAG.
After years of training, submitting, and doing background work, I still didn’t have my SAG card. Discouraged and sick of community college, I decided to pursue a cosmetology license while still trying to break into stunts. It wasn’t until I was 19 that Mike hired me for my first stunt job on Disney’s WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE.
A year later, I got the opportunity to work for Rex Reddick. I am fortunate that he saw potential in me and hired me to work on many of his shows. I am grateful to Rex for his confidence in me and willingness to refer me to other coordinators.
I didn't know at the time, but being 4'11” proved to be advantageous as I found a great niche doubling kids!
What inspired you to become a stunt person?
When I was in high school, my cheer squad got a chance to be on a TV show called QUINTUPLETS. Although, we were just hired to be background, the coordinator Al Jones needed a tumbler and I was selected.
I had done extra work before, but this was a special moment that motivated me to pursue a career in stunts.
What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it?
My greatest skill as a stunt performer would probably be my background in gymnastics. It created a foundation of movement and body awareness, and also taught me discipline.
I was able to utilize what I learned from gymnastics and apply it to stunt training like air ram, falls, fights, and wires.
What is the best part about being a stunt performer?
We train so hard to perfect skills and make connections that just getting hired is validating. But being on set and performing a stunt well, especially a difficult one, is the most gratifying feeling I can think of.
Even having a small role in making movies and television, something so prominent in our culture, is very rewarding. Working as a team, keeping each other safe, creating lifelong friendships, and being a part of the stunt community make this the best job in the world.
Tell your all-time personal favorite stunt story!
There are so many it's hard to pick just one! But one of my most memorable on-set moments was when I was working on THE MICK for Jeremy Fitzgerald. It was a huge 12 girl fight (amazing story on its own) against one guy who was being doubled by Paul Eliopoulos.
At the beginning of the fight one of the girls throws a bottle at the 'Jimmy' character. To shoot the bottle impact, Paul was off-camera throwing a rubber bottle at his actor. He missed the first 2 times, then SMACK! In the face! Only it wasn't the 'Jimmy' character, it was the actress standing next to him.
There was complete silence and shock on the set until Paul yelled, “SONAVABITCH!” It was so loud and hilarious. It took everything in me not to burst in to laughter. The actress was totally fine and actually went along with it in the scene.
It's not a Corey Eubanks Stunt Story, but it was such a funny moment that I will always remember, and one of the many reasons to love Paul E!
What advice would you give other stunt people?
Don't give up! Be persistent and tenacious and stick with it. And always tell the truth. Turning down a job that you are uncomfortable with or unqualified for will go a long way.
Coordinators appreciate honesty. It's always better to say no than to risk safety or make the boss look bad!
Stunt Players Directory: www.stuntplayers.com/player/kara-petersen/