What was life before stunts?
I was born in Monterey and raised in Camarillo, California. My childhood, to say the least, was not the best. My parents were severe alcoholics and at 17 they basically drank us out of the house. My dad told me senior year, "We're getting evicted and the landlord has agreed to let us stay until you graduate." Not having a clue where to go from that, I decided to join the Army. I requested to leave as soon as possible and sure enough, the day after Graduation we were out. My parents went on to live out of their car and that story goes downhill from there. So seven days after graduation I was off to basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood Missouri. I wasn't much of an achiever throughout school but I had a hidden talent I wasn't even aware of. I became an Arabic Cryptologic Linguist for the Army and obtained a top secret sensitive compartmented information clearance (TS-SCI). It was a year spent at the defense language institute, 5 days a week learning from scratch.
I was actually in training learning Arabic when 9/11 happened and that's when my military life was changed forever. This led to me eventually landing at Ft. Stewart Georgia, and deploying to Kuwait in 2002 for 6 months prior to the Iraq War (OIF) 2002-2003 with the 3rd Infantry Division. I did a subsequent tour for OEF in 2005-2006, and in both tours supplying language services to various units. The war and time in Iraq gave me some insane experiences and training. Things that sometimes I can't believe really happened... It mostly shaped me to be who I am today.
After ending my military time in 2006, I moved on to go through various careers. I spent time in the mining industry, law enforcement as a certified police officer, and also acquiring my Bachelors Degree working in information technology and web development/design.
Ultimately none of this ever worked out and eventually lead me in its own strange way to begin my career in stunts.
Over this time other life achievements occurred and I am happy to say that I have a beautiful wife and three children here in California.
What inspired you to become a stunt person?
This goes back to childhood, you know. You watch wrestling and watch action and as a kid you think, man I would love to do that... but that never stuck as a long term goal. Getting into stunts was one of the best things that ever happened to me. My story is unlike anyone else's.
To be honest, what happened is I had been moving around from career to career never feeling satisfied. And the further I got away from the end of my military service, the more difficult it was becoming to stay in a job. I found myself one day, just walking out of my current job. I went into a deep depression and was having the hardest time ever and couldn't understand why. I started looking for services and opportunity programs for veterans online.
I just knew I needed some assistance in general and not just for finances. On a random search I found out about LIMS, which is no longer in existence. They advertised online a 3 month hands-on training program in stunts free to veterans.
I was out of work and desperate for something to get me going again. I thought for sure this was not legit or real. I was wrong. This training program was ran by some excellent people, very well respected in the stunt industry.
I signed on and learned a mixed bag of general skills that every stunt person needs to know about. But not only that, it led to meeting other veterans and ultimately getting help for the deeper issue - that I didn't know I was facing PTSD.
I can't tell you enough and I will never stop saying how stunts has literally changed my life. I love the stunt community and the camaraderie that exists. It's the first thing ever in my entire life that I know I could be happy doing forever. I am not out to be famous, or to be featured really at all. Stunts has just brought on for me a purpose and something that makes sense to me. It's dynamic, it's exciting and always different. I really could care less how I am being utilized as a stunt person. I like being part of a team to accomplish a mission or goal and do it safely. This is what for me the military was like. When you're on a mission, you're looking out for each other, the mission has to be complete, you have to get through it and get everyone home safe at the end.
What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it?
I think this is sort of covered above but to highlight it some more I will say this. My greatest skill and talent I can bring to a stunt coordinator and set is my military/law enforcement background. I know how to handle a weapon, move a certain way and act a certain way. I also think I am excellent at listening to instructions and being safe. In the military you're handling weapons constantly, and during deployment you have a weapon on you 24/7 - locked and loaded. You have to be safe at all times. So any set or gag that needs that mentality or background I will excel at.
What is the best part about being a stunt performer?
The excitement of executing the stunt. I think this is why I enjoy it so much. The adrenaline rush you get when it's time for action is just awesome. Whether it's coming in hot driving a vehicle or a fight scene. Just the energy is so enjoyable, I love it.
What advice would you give other stunt people?
Be respectful, be humble. I think just being that type of person who shows up early, helps out, does what they are asked to and listens is the most successful. Even if I know the stunt coordinator, it's yes sir, yes ma'am, etc. You are there to be a professional all around and do what it takes to get the job done efficiently. You can have the most skills, be the best at something, but if your attitude is poor you're going to have a hard time.
Anything else you would like to tell the community about?
I just would like to thank anyone who has ever reached out to me, offered advice or guidance and anyone who helped me land a gig. There are some extremely amazing people I could never repay for what they have done for me coming into the stunt world. They know who they are.
Stunt Players Directory: https://www.stuntplayers.com/player/scott-vasquez-2/