Tell about yourself, Theresa!
I am a single mom with three kids who’s living her life the way she wants to, finally. All my life I have been extremely active and athletic, as well as competitive. The word(s) “No” and “You can’t do that!” drive me to succeed and prove others wrong.
Growing up, I was a Tom Boy in a skirt. I would take my bike to a construction site and race down the dirt mounds... in a skirt. I was downhill skiing and horseback riding at the age of 7.
I was born a very sick child (ABO Blood Imcompatability) and developed Osteomyelitis in both legs. It’s a severe bone disease that should have left me wheelchair bound. I was to have 18 surgeries by the time I was 16, but only had to have 3. I beat the odds.
I am doing things today that doctors never imagined that I would be doing ever. If they could only see me doing stunts, they would be astonished!
What inspired you to become a stunt person?
I dreamed of being a stunt driver, thanks to the Duke boys. I use to drift my big wheels around the neighborhood, slid my bike and do all sorts of “driving” stunts.
I gave up on the idea as I grew up, because I had no idea how to go about doing it. Years later, I discovered that one of my childhood neighbors did become a professional stuntman. This was a kid I would watch skateboard while I did my bike “stunts." That kinda got me thinking about doing it again. However, I was in college, raising my first child and really had no support or clue where to start.
In 2015, I worked as an unpaid extra on TIGER and met several of the crew. I had no clue who these people were, but I did enjoy talking to them. Fast forward to May 2016 and I was on the set of FATE OF THE. FURIOUS, Second Unit in Cleveland. Who do I see? Those guys! Little did I know, but they are big in the stunt industry. We kept in touch, I made friends with other stunt guys too and told them my dream. July 2016, I was being invited to 1st Unit for FF and the rest was history!
I started training seriously, networking, and even made a huge leap and left my life in Ohio and moved myself and kids to Atlanta. There’s no turning back because I am on the road I need to be.
What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it?
I would say horseback riding and pulls and ratchets.
My first hand pull was done on the set of MOM AND DAD and it was a crash course lesson; literally. That was my first time ever doing one and I was hooked! I went on down to Orlando to train more for stunts and one of the things we focused on was wirework. I just absolutely love the feel of the rush I get each time I fly!
I still train here in Atlanta and learning new wire skills. There’s so much to learn that it is never ending.
What is the best part about being a stunt performer?
The community! Honestly, it’s like a family. Of course you’re not going to get along with everyone, and that’s okay. As long as the job gets done safely, that’s what matters the most. However, those that I do know well are extremely supportive, loving and wonderful to be around.
Also, in stunts, you get an instant gratification on the completion of a stunt and I really enjoy that. At the same time, stunt work always challenges you to be better and/or learn something new. There are several things I have done that I never thought I would ever do in my life. Stunts gave me the courage to do them.
What advice would you give other stunt people?
For newbies, train, train, train, train and stay humble!
For everyone else, stay humble, don’t gossip, stay true to yourself, be honest and it’s not a competition.
Yes, we all want the job but there are other things you can do on set as a stunt performer too. Don’t get upset or hurt if you’re not chosen, ask if there’s another job that you can do.
Anything else you would like to tell the community about?
All I can say is that this is a wonderful community of multi-talented people from all over the place and it’s amazing! You all impress me and inspire me.