Shaina West: The Samurider
A real life, self-made Super Hero
The story of Africa and her descendants is one of perseverance. No matter what challenges we may face, black people always find a way to excel. While history is full of examples of black people overcoming the odds and achieving greatness, this beautiful young woman is a living legend in the making and someone that we can appreciate today.
Born August 23rd between 1994 - 1997, Shaina West is a British actress from Ghana, a self-taught martial artist, fight choreographer, weapon specialist, and a stuntwoman known around the world as a real life super hero called The Samurider.
In 2010, Shaina was diagnosed with chronic anxiety disorder which had impacted every moment of her life, but discovered that a passion for riding motorcycles would help ease her anxiety. However, in 2014, she'd suffer a major motorcycle accident that left her with a fractured neck, a broken thumb and badly concussed. Her and her boyfriend at the time split before she could leave the hospital and she was fired from her job for not being able to fulfill her contract.
Back home, she spent weeks in bed recovering and binging anime (Japanese animations). Feeling as if she hit rock bottom, she found inspiration from her love of comic books, video games and Japanese culture to become a real life superhero/anime character and began training herself in Martial Arts and knife throwing by watching YouTube and other internet tutorials.
After making a full recovery, in 2016 Shaina took to Facebook to announce to the world her new identity as The Samurider (combining her love for Samurai and riding motorcycles).
Shaina trained rigorously at gyms in London, often shouting out Brixton Street Gym, and her ambition, grit and perseverance pushed her to becoming recognized as one of the best female martial artists in London, even allowing her to travel the world to train with masters of different disciplines.
She'd star in a few projects showcasing her abilities before being discovered by the Hancock Agency and later Paul Byram Associates who helped establish her as an actor and performer in the film and television industry. Shaina's dream would be realized, as she will make her first big debut in Marvel Studio's Black Widow film as one of the many women inducted into the Red Room program that turned Natasha into a badass spy.
Shaina inspires me because as a person of color who grew up admiring Martial Arts and watching films starring legendary fighters and stunt coordinators like Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Donnie Yen, I've always wanted to see more people like me in that world and on screen. Growing up on comic books and anime, I used to be bullied for not being overly drawn to things that were expected for me to like as a black person, like sports and Hip Hop. Shaina embraces her love for geek culture and uses it to continuously manifest herself into her best version.
What is also amazing, is that she did it by herself, when she was at her lowest, where her only two choices were to stay down or get up. She did not wait for a miracle or for the universe to wave its hand and bless her with good fortune. Instead, she made good fortune by believing in her own inner power and pushing through her limits.
To top it all off, while she could have just focused on herself and propelling her brand and her own desires, she uses her newfound platform to speak on issues regarding race in Hollywood's stunt world, despite what impacts it could have on her career, and encourages more women to pursue martial arts and stunt work, cementing the fact that she is indeed a real life Super Hero.
Sometimes it seems as though we do not celebrate amazing black people while they are alive, so I'm hoping that this could raise more awareness to this legend in the making.
This is just the beginning. Follow this real life living legend to see what she does next. @TheSamurider