Tell about your background and how you entered into the world of stunts, Walter.
I was born in Detroit, Michigan and attended school in Birmingham, Alabama. I ran track and played football in high school and college and played semi-pro football prior to becoming an EMT and police officer.
I entered the entertainment industry and quickly became committed to it. I began my stunt career working numerous nonunion, low/no projects. After becoming eligible to join SAG-AFTRA, I jumped at the chance and began to train with some of the local stunt performers and got to meet to several coordinators.
From there, I began to get a few stunt jobs and continue to train and hone my skill set while also working on some new skills.
What is your greatest skill? Is there a story behind it?
I think my greatest skill is that I'm fearless and willing to try most things. I am very good at fights and falls but I've also done full and partial burns as well as high falls up to 28 feet (so far).
I boxed when I was younger and am also an orange belt in Shotokan karate; participating in kumite and kata tournaments.
Is there someone in stunts who has inspired your career as a stunt performer?
There isn't one particular stunt person who's inspired me to be a stunt performer but I've seen certain stunts that were performed that inspired me to train to train to perform them.
What is the greatest part about the stunt community? What could be changed for the better?
I think the greatest part of the stunt community is that it is like a smaller family inside an entertainment family. For the most part, there are people who are willing to work with you on skills that you are trying to gain or improve.
I do believe that this area could be improved upon, especially in the opportunities that are provided for minorities. I know that, for the most part, stunt performers are dictated by the principal actors cast in productions but when there are ND performers required for scenes, those opportunities could be extended a little more for minorities as well as for persons trying to get into the profession; especially driving.
Tell your favorite stunt story!
My personal favorite stunt story actually had nothing to do with the actual stunt, even though I enjoyed that day as well. I was at TPS in a production meeting for my Key PA job preparing for the upcoming production cycle.
One of the ADs sitting next to me and said, "congratulations on being cast on American Soul." I was surprised because I knew nothing about it. I hadn't auditioned or even been contacted.
The AD stated that my picture was on the wall in their costumes department. About an hour later I got the call from the coordinator asking me if I was available to work. Of course I said yes! I had a great trailer, great experience, great day, and got to work with a great cast and crew.
What advice would you give up and coming stunt performers?
Train, train, train. Make sure you continue to improve your skill set and build on other skills. Don't lie about your skills. This could cause you or someone else to be hurt or killed.
Is there anything else you would like to tell the stunt community?
I'm available and ready to do stunts involving several different skills. All I need is for a few more coordinators to give me a chance to perform.