Stunt performer and coordinator Shahaub Roudbari (Logan, WandaVision) and actress and writer Kathreen Khavari (Insecure, Embrace) have helped launched the #DiversityInStunts initiative, which is a call to action within the stunt and action community to increase inclusion and support for the Black community as well as people of color that are stunt performers, coordinators and directors.
The initiative kicked off today on social media with coordinators and stunt performers from around the world including Extraction director Sam Hargrave and Zoe Bell, who worked as a stunt coordinator for Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood as well as actor Garrett Dillahunt, cast members of Black Lightning and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. #DiversityInStunts looks to promote and push equality in an often overlooked part of the industry that, like many others, has remained predominantly homogenous and lacking diversity.
“As a community of action designers, of men and women who have dedicated our lives to the art of storytelling and action, it is not enough to merely stand by and follow silently in the background of this global movement,” said Roudbari. “We must stand at the forefront and take action to inspire and ensure a more diverse and just platform for storytelling for this and future generations.”
“This is a potent moment in time where every corner of every industry can unearth and tackle the pernicious anti-Blackness that has run rampant and unchecked for decades and, sadly, the world of stunts is no exception,” added Khavari. “If we don’t shed light on that uncomfortable truth today, this sector of Hollywood will continue to be dominated by the homogeneity that is out of step with the stories we seek to tell.”
The #DiversityInStunts posts on social media included a statement that says: “As storytellers and action designers, we — the U.S. and international stunt communities — make a commitment to unite beside and take action to support our brothers and sisters of the Black community in their fight for equality.”
This is followed by steps for the stunt community to be more inclusive including inviting Black members to join the board of leaders, and membership of major stunt organizations and the hiring of more Black men and women in stunt coordinator and 2nd Unit Director positions. It also calls for promoting diverse casting when it comes to filling non-specific and often stereotyped roles with BIPOC. This includes casting Black performers more than just criminals and gang bangers.
“Together we can build a stronger and more diverse stunt industry, with equal and representative voices from our brothers and sisters of the Black community and people of color from around the world,” the statement reads.
#DiverstiyInStunts comes at a time of protest and rallies that are shifting the cultural landscape on all fronts. There is a reckoning in terms of racial equality in all industries that have been predominantly white, male, straight and cisgender. More recently, the theater community penned an open letter to “White American Theater” and demanding change. The letter was filled with ugly truths that those who have worked in the theater industry have experienced for decades and was signed by over 300 BIPOCs including. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Viola Davis, Sandra Oh, Uzo Aduba, Sterling K. Brown, Cynthia Erivo, among others.
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⠀ As storytellers and action designers, we—the US and international Stunt Communities—make a commitment to unite beside and take action to support our brothers and sisters of the Black community in their fight for equality. ⠀ Here are a few preliminary steps by which we can expand representation in stunts:⠀ – Invite Black members to join the board of leaders, and membership of major Stunt organizations.⠀ – Support, recommend, and hire more Black men and women in Stunt Coordinator and 2nd Unit Director positions.⠀ – Start and promote stunt training, mentorship, and rigging apprenticeship programs for up-and-coming Black performers. ⠀ – Support, recommend, and hire more Black stunt people as core team members and as ND (Nondescript) stunt performers on film and TV runs. ⠀ – Promote diverse casting when it comes to filling non-specific and often stereotyped roles with People of Color, i.e. Black performers cast as more than just criminals and gang bangers.⠀ – Support, recommend, and hire Black stunt doubles, including circumstances where the ethnicity of the character is irrelevant, i.e. prosthetics, helmet, masks, etc. ⠀ Together we can build a stronger and more diverse stunt industry, with equal and representative voices from our brothers and sisters of the Black community and People of Color from around the world. ⠀ ⠀ #DiversityInStunts
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