Fight Like a Stunt Woman
A Look into the Life of a Stunt Woman
She’s running. The bad guys are close behind her. She sees a motorcycle that she can use for her to get away. She hops on, gets it started, and right before she can take off, the director yells “CUT!” Who do you call when Wonder Woman needs to leap from a building? Who is the one that makes the Black Widow’s moves so fluid? Who’s that person under the Power Rangers suit during the backflip?
In the age of the superhero film, these people have seen not only a rise in fame and work but also in recognition. I’m speaking of course about stunt doubles. These men and women risk life and limb to get the shot the director wants. They train their mind, body, and spirit to do the dangerous stunts, jumps, and car chases that make an action movie an action movie. For them, it’s not a movie, it’s real life. One of these amazing people is Caitlin Hutson. Caitlin has been acting since she was 4-years-old. She has a third-degree black belt and "sensei" title in Shito Ryu karate, as well as training in MMA, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and various other styles. Residing in Los Angeles, she has been in everything from films, TV, and even the theatrical stage! Join me in an exclusive interview that looks into the life of a stunt woman.
DJ Johnson: Where are you from? Where do you live and/or work now?
Caitlin Hutson: I’m from Orlando, Florida, and now live and work in Los Angeles.
What does a daily routine look like for you?
Every day is different, but always incorporates some kind of training whether it’s parkour, tricking, fights, falls, trapeze, or just a normal workout at the gym. I don’t have a fixed schedule, so I try to stay motivated by keeping my training regime fun and unique.
A lot of my favorite training days involving going to a park with friends and shooting a practice fight—it’s the best way to apply the skills we’re working on in a “real life” situation. I go the typical “stunt gyms” as often as I can to train and network, and anytime a workshop pops up, I try to take it. Since you never know when a job opportunity may arise, you have to stay flexible and on top of your game at all times.
How long have you been doing stunts? Did you always want to be a stunt woman?
I’m still very green in the stunt industry. I did live stunt shows for about two years and moved to Los Angeles roughly five months ago to get into the film industry. I was actually aspiring to be an actress when I discovered stunts, and because of my athletic background, I excelled quickly. Since I took my first stage combat workshop in 2016, I haven’t looked back.
What’s your favorite part? What makes it hard?
I think the fact that it’s hard is what makes it my favorite part. Not a day goes by where I’m not pushed out of my comfort zone. Every new trick, every stunt, and every workout poses new challenges that I have to overcome. Sometimes it’s exhausting and I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up the pace that being a stunt performer demands.
But when I’m able to move past the doubts and the fears, it’s the best feeling in the world. I can take a lot of pride in doing stunts because I know that not everyone can do it. I also love seeing a finished product at the end of a long shoot—seeing everything come together with the sound effects, editing, and perfect shots makes doing take after take worth it.
What skills would serve women well who want to get into stunts? What are your exercise and diet like?
I think the most important skill for stuntwomen is the ability to take direction and understand their own bodies. No one knows how to do everything, so you have to be able to pick up new and strange skills on the fly. That being said, martial arts, gymnastics, and dance are some of the most useful sports to train because they develop an innate understanding of movement and rhythm, which are both key to stunts. Some non-physical skills that are essential are business and marketing.
Having the skills to do stunts isn’t worth anything if you don’t know how to sell yourself as a competent performer. My exercise is all about variety, and I make sure my diet fuels me with enough nutrients to get through all my workouts. I can tell when I haven’t eaten well enough because my training starts to falter—I get moody and sluggish—so I really try to stay on top of a healthy diet with whole foods so my training doesn’t go to waste.
How do you view women in your industry and how do you think they are being represented? Is it difficult to deal with? What would you say to girls who want to grow up to be a stuntwoman?
I think that women are making a lot of progress in the stunt industry, but there is still a long way to go. To give you an idea, I have (on more than one occasion) had people tell me that it’ll be easier for me to get work as a girl because I’m hot and I can sleep with coordinators.
This problematic mindset, along with the idea that women are weaker and more emotional and therefore less suited for stunts, is still very prevalent. And although it’s a scary thing to combat when you’re also climbing your way up a very tight-knit community, you have to do yourself justice. One of the most important things I’ve learned that I would tell to every girl who wants to get into stunts is that you have to respect yourself if you want others to respect you.
There will always be someone telling you that you’re not cut out for it, and it’s your job to prove them wrong. Also, you don’t have to abandon your femininity to be a good stunt performer—wear dresses (if you like), love puppies (or cats), be tender, and kick butt in the process. Anyone who says you can’t be feminine AND badass has clearly never watched Wonder Woman.
I got into stunts knowing it would be the hardest thing I’d ever tried, and I’m still taken aback by the amount of hard work, perseverance, and self-determination this profession takes. It is literally blood, sweat, and tears, and also the most fulfilling job in the world.
Caitlin Huston has been in several pilots recently, so make sure to keep an eye out for her! Truly dedicated to her craft, I have no doubt that she will definitely become a popular choice by directors everywhere!