Stunt Performer Spotlight: Hayley Wright
Hayley, tell about yourself and getting into stunts! My Name is Hayley Wright. I’m originally from the Gold Coast, Australia but have lived in the US for the last 11 years. I spent the best part of my childhood in the gym. I was obsessed, dedicated and determined to be the best Gymnast I could be. I trained 38 hours a week at a High Performance Center about an hour and a half away from where I lived. With my passion and the incredible commitment from my parents, I was one of the top gymnasts in the country & was on the National Team for 4 years. My next adventure started with a call from Cirque Du Soleil at 2am one morning. I had submitted an audition DVD 4 days earlier. To my complete surprise, they offered me a contract right then and there to be part of the creation of a new show that would be based in Las Vegas. It was the experience of a lifetime. I performed a High Bar act and an Aerial duet in Viva Elvis for 3 years then went on to perform an Aerial Chandelier act in a Cirque Du Soleil touring show called Corteo. I up and left my crazy life in the circus and embarked on a new journey to Los Angeles basically knowing nothing about the industry. What inspired you to become a stunt person? Through performing and through mutual friends I met Kristina Baskett and Mark Wagner. Both incredibly respected & successful Stunt Performers, wonderful humans, and my inspiration to start the long journey of becoming a Hollywood Stunt Woman. I was lucky to have met some of the most supportive and kind people in the industry who pointed me in the right direction as far as training went. I started training Taekwondo with Master Rhee (Simon Rhee, a TKD legend & respected veteran stunt man). He helped me gain knowledge about being a Stunt Performer & a Martial Artist. I started going to open gym sessions by myself and with friends at JAM, Gymnastics Olympica, LA Valley College. It was so great to have a group of determined friends to train with (Josh Fried, Thekla Hutyrova, Hannah Betts, Bryan Cartago, Mark Wagner, and more). We pushed each other & learnt a lot through trial and error. What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? I was told by a number of people that there was a shortage of good female “fight girls” at the time so if I focused my training on that I would have a better chance of working a lot. I did just that. It was always my goal and still is, to be a well rounded Stunt Woman but I focused on fights and started getting hired mostly for the acrobatic/fight heavy jobs. What is the best part about being a stunt performer? Being a Stunt Performer means being a Team Player. We’re just one department of many that is hired to help bring a vision to life. We have an extremely fun, creative job but it is to be taken seriously as well with many high risk factors that are a placed in front of us on a daily basis. A cool part of the job for me is getting to watch the actors transform from never having done action, or not a lot of it, to watching them kick ass on screen. It is our job as a team and as a Stunt Double to help the actors feel comfortable and to train them up to look as badass as possible. It is nice when there is a mutual respect for each other, when the actor puts the hard work in, and does a lot of the choreography but still understands our roll and appreciates the hard work of the Stunt Team and their doubles. Tell your favorite stunt story! One of my favorite/coolest stunts so far was jumping out of a window at 4 stories high with one of my great friends, Natalie Padilla, on a show called STATION 19. It was thanks to Steve Davison who is also a legend in the biz for trusting us and giving us that opportunity. One of my favorite days on set was on MODERN FAMILY simply because the cast and crew were so unbelievably light hearted, fun and welcoming and it was a fun easy fall over the side of a boat that made everyone laugh. The stakes weren’t so high so I was able to just have fun. What advice would you give other stunt people? I would suggest to anyone that wants to get into stunts to be prepared to work hard. Ask questions, ask for guidance and advice, but also be ok with learning along the way and learning on the job. I’m still getting used to the fact that everyday on set is so different and you’ll most likely be put out of your comfort zone. Always be realistic with where you stand as a performer, it’s ok to turn down a job if you’re not comfortable or fully capable yet. Lastly, from someone who has stressed their way to success… please enjoy the process. I am still considered new in the business but I do look back at how far I have come in the last 5 years and I always seem to think, “Man, I had some good times but I wish I didn’t put so much pressure on myself, I would’ve had way more fun”. Anything else you would like to tell the community about? Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. There will be plenty of people that will judge you and have their opinions on what is right, wrong, good and bad - but just keep your head down and keep learning.