Celebrating Magnificence: Mary Lowman Aspiring Stunt Woman
Mary was all in… except she had zero desire to be set on fire. Her trainers told her she could skip that part of the training if she really insisted, but Mary has that little streak of internal fire that inspired her to go for it, despite her brain screaming at her, “Don’t do this crazy, dangerous thing!” She told her trainers yes, and it was on. As the tongues of the flame embraced her body, and her trainers gave her the choreography, she suddenly realized that all her fear had disappeared. And she executed the stunt perfectly. She had a blast being turned into a fireball!
That was just one of the days Mary spent during her 3 week training at the International Stunt School in Seattle. If you were wondering why Mary – also known as Minnie – wasn’t here teaching her Functional Flexibility classes in August, she’s back with quite a few great stories to tell!
What on earth motivated this seemingly shy, mild-mannered dancer to ever go into stunt training? Well… one day while watching TV a few years ago, she recognized that many scenes in movies, such as chases and fights, reminded her of dancing. ‘They are just performing choreography!’ she thought. This gave her an idea – wouldn’t stunt work bring all of her passions and skills together into one fabulous career? What better way to use all her talents as a circus performer, gymnast, figure skater, dancer and surfer?
Her heart set, she simply google’d how to become a stuntwoman. Of many training programs, International Stunt School seemed to be the most well-rounded program, teaching many different forms of stunts and the safety connected with them. Mary set her sights on her chosen school, and gathered the funds. All along the way, she has been obsessively learning about the trade. She follows many stuntwomen on social media, especially the famous Jessie Graff as well as Jennifer Clarke who have a gymnastics background like hers.
The program delivered on all fronts. Mary worried before attending that the atmosphere would be one of competitiveness, where other students would undermine each other. That concern turned out to be far from reality. Her classmates quickly assembled into an inseparable group that consisted of individuals from many diverse backgrounds – martial artists, actors, dancers – thrilled to share their skills and strengths with each other. During their intense 3 weeks they only had 2 days off. They worked with ratchets for “flying”, circus moves, flight choreography, falling, aerial work, driving and… fire.
The grand finale was something best described as stunt obstacle course, while simultaneously being a performance and an audition. The students played the roles of fighters, jumping over, falling and rolling to music that had been cherry-picked for each student by their trainer. The mini show exhibited all of the skills that they learned in the program. As Mary started her program, she heard the familiar tune of Hawaii 5-0, and she would have laughed if she weren’t performing, which helped her kick off her nervousness. She began the obstacle course by running, jumping off a building and starting a fight! Minnie seems pretty Mighty to me!
She LOVED her performance time so much! She thrives on the high energy, loves the excitement of all the people rooting for each other and feels at home performing at high stress, something she learned in her years performing gymnastics and dance.
Now back from stunt school, Mary trains tirelessly. Working full time, she ”only” trains 4 hours a day. Ideally she would like to train 8 hours every day!
What does her training look like? She starts her day with stretching or yoga, then goes into some cardio or skill training, strength-based exercise, then more skill training. For example she does circus training in the morning and tandem surfing in the afternoon. She has a list of alternating workouts that she checks off her weekly list. She puts a lot of time into physical therapy-like movement and foam rolling to protect her body from high-impact training. Music, snacks and podcasts keep her motivated.
One local friend helps her keep the score and makes sure she stays on track. She would love to have more workout partners here on island, in addition to her tandem surfing partner. Meanwhile, Seattle stunt school group stays present in her life as long-distance virtual training partners, sharing photos, videos and giving constructive feedback.
Mary doesn’t let the worry about breaking into a new industry stop her from moving forward. She is no stranger to the fear of rejection that accompanies auditions. While living in Brooklyn and following a path towards professional dance, she developed a coping strategy: Every audition is a chance to learn something, a chance to get better. It is part of this job and she might as well keep on trying. Rejection is a daily thing – people are always telling her no. But trying out, going for it, is the only possible way that somebody will say, “Yes, come be a stuntwoman for this show!”
Her plan is to break into Hawaii stunt industry. She knows she has to start from the bottom, sending her resumes and networking while constantly training. She dreams of working in movies and television doing wire work, ratchet work, circus, fight choreography, and creative acting skills. She would also love to get involved in doing live shows where acrobats and stunt people perform in theme parks all over the world.
This new career seems to have just appeared out of nowhere is opening her eyes to endless exciting possibilities. My suggestion: come to Mary’s Functional Flexibility classes and see if you can coax a thrilling story or two out of Mary. I always love watching people bring their dreams out of the clouds down into real life!