They put their lives on the line, breaking through windows, jumping off buildings, running through fires, hanging from planes, crashing cars. And they do it in bikinis, tight pants, shorts, and gowns! They’re stuntwomen in the movies and on TV, and no one’s written a book about them. Until now. Author Mollie Gregory presents the first history of stuntwomen in the film industry from the silent era to the twenty-first century.
Ninety-five percent of women’s stunt work deals with feats and behavior not usually associated with women: brawls, car and bike crashes, high falls, explosions. Stunts appear spontaneous but they are not improvised. They are planned and designed like complex dances of action and conflict. From The Perils of Pauline to Spider-Man 3, the unexpected can always happen, and the line between a make-believe threat and real danger is very thin, but stuntwomen thrive on it. Collectively, from silent movies to today’s blockbusters, stunt women have risked injury and even death; fought sex and race discrimination, unequal pay, blackballing, and harassment; but here they are in Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story,joyfully describing the hard times and the best of times.
NYWIFT presents this panel discussion with author Mollie Gregory, special guests (to be announced) and literary agent Ellen Geiger as moderator. Book signing follows discussion.
This is a joyous, intense book: Gregory is bracingly up front about the outright sexism that has dogged professional stuntwomen almost from the beginning…But Gregory, who interviewed dozens of stuntwomen of all ages, focuses on much more than injustices and legal battles. What comes through most strongly is the joy these women take from their work. — New York Times
Mollie Gregory began as a documentary filmmaker and later became an author of fiction and non-fiction books, a sought-after speaker, particularly on the role and treatment of women in Hollywood, and an officer in several national and international groups. In Women Who Run the Show, How A Brilliant and Creative New Generation Stormed Hollywood, published by St. Martin’s Press, she interviewed 125 women from trainees to studio heads in the Hollywood film/TV industry. She has been interviewed widely — Turner Classic Movies’ 7-part TV series Moguls and Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood, E! Entertainment, CNN, and EXTRA!, to name a few. Gregory’s published novels include Equal to Princes, Triplets, and Privileged Lies. Currently, she is finishing a new novel, Separate Screens, as well as a suspense novel titled LoveYouBye.
Nicole Callender is a stuntwoman as well as an actor, regionally and off Broadway. Most recently Callender had a guest starring role on Gotham, as the character “Chicken.” And prior to that she doubled Marianne Jean Baptiste for a car crash on Blindspot. She also worked on the feature film Purge 3, doubling Betty Gabriel. Callender spent 3 weeks of her summer in Puerto Rico where she doubled two of the women on the Amazon TV show Mad Dogs. Other recent credits include ND driving for Ghostbusters, Utility Stunt fighter for Violet, doubling Regina King on The Leftovers, as well as having the honor of working for Ava DuVernay on For Justice, to name a few.
Stracy Diaz became New York’s first Puerto Rican stuntwoman in the early 90s and is also a pillar in the Latin Dance Community. Diaz has an extensive professional career as a stuntwoman, dance instructor, performer and choreographer spanning well over 25 years as an entertainer. Earning an impressive resume in Film/TV and stage, Diaz has had the pleasure of working with many of the best stunt performers in the industry, as well as the very best in the history of Latino film and stage performers including the late Tito Puente and Celia Cruz, Rueben Blades, Mark Anthony, John Leguizamo, Lauren Velez and Sonia Braga.
Aja Frary was a Division 1 All-American & a Nationally ranked Track & Field Heptathlete from 2000-2005. In 2006 Aja moved to New York City and began to transition into a career as one of Hollywood’s most sought after Stuntwoman. She has doubled for actresses such as Rosario Dawson, Halle Berry, Megan Fox, Meagan Good and Zoe Saldana. Credits include Daredevil for Netflix, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Iron Man 3, The Wolf of Wall Street and The Dark Knight Rises, to name a few. Frary was the 2013 Taurus World Stunt Award Nominee for the category of Hardest Hit & Best Stunt by a Stuntwoman. She is also an instructor at Rick Seaman’s Stunt Driving School-East Coast in Wall, NJ.
Joanne Lamstein’s first memory of wanting to be a stuntwoman was at 11 years old, while watching Raiders of the Lost Ark. 13 years later, Danny Aiello III, hired her for her first stunt job. For over 20 years, Lamstein has been fortunate to meet and work with some of the best stunt people in the industry. She has doubled for award-winning actresses such as Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand and Isabella Rossellini and was one of the recipients of the first SAG Award given for Outstanding Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture for The Bourne Ultimatum.
Cheryl Lewis is a unique, multi-discipline performer who works in film & television as a stunt performer. A high-fall through a skylight, being hit by a car, kicking/hair pulling/ground pounding fight or falling down some stairs is all in a days’ work. Lewis feels very blessed to be a stuntwoman/martial artist/aerialist. Doing something she loves and has great passion for, as a living, is a dream come true! She is the recipient of the 2014 Action Icon Awards, Jewel Award and is a member of United Stuntwomen’s Association (USAstunts) an association of working, professional stuntwomen, coordinators, and second unit directors.
Tina McKissick was raised on a farm in Georgia with plenty of horses and dirt bikes to ride and haylofts to jump from. She used these experiences to earn her first stunt job in 1998 on Forces of Nature with Sandra Bullock in Savannah. After moving to New York in 2001 she went on to stunt double for The Olsen Twins, Kelly Ripa, Jessica Simpson, Dakota Fanning, Kristen Bell, Hillary Duff and most recently Melissa McCarthy in Ghostbusters among many others. McKissick is a two time SAG Award Nominee for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in I Am Legend and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. She is also a Regional and Off Broadway character actress as well as an animation voice over artist. You can see her perform characters on her YouTube Channel listed as “Fran Sawyer”.
Ashley Pynn was born in North Carolina. A natural tomboy, ATV’s, aggressive inline, martial arts, and other various sports kept her busy in the south, providing the perfect opportunity to get down and dirty, leaving the Barbie’s to girls who actually appreciated them. Since 2008, Pynn has lived in NYC pursuing her dream of being a stuntwoman and actress. She attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and has been primarily focused on breaking into the stunt community. In 2015, she was lucky enough to receive work on the Blacklist, Jessica Jones and The Mysteries of Laura. A rookie in the business, she is dedicated to learning and experiencing as much as possible from veterans and anyone who is willing to impart life lessons along the way.
Jodi Pynn started out in production in 1990 and was given her first stunt job by Glenn Wilder on the telelvision show SeaQuestin 1996. She knew in her heart while on that job that it was what she wanted to do for a career. She has been very blessed to work for and with some of the most awesome stunt professionals in the business. She most recently doubled Kate McKinnon in the new Ghostbusters film driving the ECTO in NYC. For Pynn, Ghostbusters is her most memorable job because she was able to watch people walk by, watch the shoot, and all of a sudden have a smile on their faces. It was like they went back in time and remembered when they first saw Ghostbusters. Pynn has been fortunate to double for such wonderful actresses including Meg Ryan, Rachael McAdams, Emily Blunt, Kate Hudson and her favorite Julianne Moore.
Jen Weissenberg is a professional stunt performer and stunt coordinator in the NYC area. Coming from an extensive background in dance and gymnastics, she has had the privilege of working on numerous films, TV shows & commercials in and around NYC. In transitioning to Stunt Coordinating, she has found a position that is ever more engaging, one that embodies and applies creativity, leadership and extensive human engineering to filmmaking. She is grateful for a career that provides an outlet for her passion for performance, action, & working collaboratively with fellow filmmakers. In her downtime she develops real estate in Vermont.
Ellen Geiger (Moderator) has over two decades in publishing, film and television, and represents a broad range of fiction and non-fiction. Her authors span most categories and have won many awards and prizes including the National Book Award, National Jewish Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award. She also represents several important estates, including Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon, the poet Adrienne Rich and novelist Tillie Olsen. She is a past president of NYWIFT and was nominated for an Emmy for The Legacy of the Hollywood Blacklist. She was Executive Producer of Katherine Patterson’s Jacob Have I Loved, the miniseries Roots of Rhythm with Harry Belafonte, and an Associate Producer of The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter.
Special Thanks to
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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.