Tell about yourself, Shawn!
I was born on September 25, 1981 in Canton, Ohio, USA. I grew up in the Linwood projects until I was a teen with only my mother, brother and sister. I grew up in poverty but I had a dream.
I began my training in Martial arts at age 9 at North Canton Center for Martial Arts in North Canton, Ohio. At age 14 I started my journey in modeling and acting doing small gigs until I started fighting in the MMA in my early 20's.
I earned my black belt in Kenpo Karate and learned 4 other styles of Martial Arts such as Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Kick Boxing, Judo and Tae Kwon Do. I am very athletic and played sports throughout high school doing football, baseball, and swimming. During my early 20's I also started driving semi trucks and have been driving ever since as I make my way up in the film industry. I began my journey as a Stunt Performer in 2015 when I was noticed by a casting director which then introduced me to a well known actor named James Madio. James became my acting coach and started my career as a stunt performer. James Madio then introduced me to Stunt Coordinator Richard Fike which opened many doors for me and was the start of my stunt career.
I started traveling back and forth to Los Angeles, California to work with Arnold Chon and other well known stunt coordinators. I have had the honor to learn from Arnold Chon, Larnell Stovall, Garrett Warren, JJ Perry and others as well as working with a few of them in film. I train with Arnold Chon still to this day. I have made my way on the big screen in movies, commercials and music videos. I have stunt performed in film as a cowboy, indian, cop, henchman and others and also stunt doubled on FALCON AND WINTER SOLDIERS. My skills with Martial Arts, driving Tractor-Trailer and other stunt skills have led me to a growing career as a stunt performer. As a professional stuntman I train hard every day and focus hard on my health/diet. I then moved to Atlanta, Georgia to continue my career as a stunt performer in 2019 which continues to lead to more for my career. I train hard with other stunt performers every day to gain more skills and knowledge. I look forward every day to what films are to come and for me to be a part of.
What inspired you to become a stunt person?
I will say that one of my biggest inspirations to become a stuntman in film was when I was called to be featured as a cop in THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS. I was in the car with well known stuntman, Jay Lynch. He showed me on his phone all he did and talked to me all about stunts and after that day I pushed even harder to be a great stuntman.
I knew I could do what I love with my martial arts and driving semi trucks on film. I never looked back and I will never stop doing what I love. That small, but amazing experience in the car with Mr. Lynch opened my eyes to greater things and I was honored to be driving with one of the best in film.
What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it?
I would say that one of the greatest skills that I have as a stunt performer is my fighting skills. I love doing fight scenes and doing wrecks. "I love to get thrown around!" But driving semi trucks has become one of my skills as well. I have learned new skills with a Tractor-Trailer to use in film and I will continue to learn.
I love that I can still use my Martial Arts in film and never let them go to waste as the same with driving semi truck because one thing I always wanted to never lose and put to use is my fighting skills along with my Tractor-Trailer skills. It's been about 5 years that I have been able to use my skills in film as a stunt performer.
What is the best part about being a stunt performer?
The best part about being a stunt performer isn't just the pay to doing what I love, but it's being able to entertain people and bring the action to life on film. Stunt performers truly bring the action that catches people eyes and keeps them on the edge of their seat.
I love when I hear people say, "that had to have hurt" or, "man that was a good fight." That means that I/We did the job. And I also love when kids know what I do in film because I love to see their eyes light up with joy. It warms my heart and I thank God for allowing me to do what I do as a stunt performer.
What advice would you give other stunt people?
If there is any advice I could give to my fellow stunt performers that are in the begining stages, I would say to be very patient and stay focused on working hard to be noticed in the film industry. I took a lot of loss going for my dream, but if you can't take risk, you cannot grow.
Take time to study how stunt performers work and move in film because it is also acting. Find that one or two things that makes you different and stick out from the others and learn to let go of what ego you may have. Always be willing to learn because there is so much to learn in the film industry and patience is truly needed.
Times may get rough, "Trust ME" and you may feel like you are not getting anywhere, but trust the process and do not be afraid to talk and network. Let people know what you are made of and that you have what it takes. Because of my patience I have been a part of movies such as WARPATH, ESCAPE FROM CELL BLOCK 13, NATIVE SON, UNTITLED FRED HAMPTON PROJECT, FALCON AND WINTER SOLDIERS and a few more as well as music vidoes with famous artist and this is still just the begining.
Always know that if you believe, you can achieve and do not be afraid to fail!