You are here: Home » Arts » Michelle C. Smith on Becoming a Stunt Performer, Star Wars, and Staff Spinning

Michelle C. Smith on Becoming a Stunt Performer, Star Wars, and Staff Spinning

Michelle C. Smith

She is a Stunt Performer for movies and TV and has become a social media sensation for her Star Wars tributes. With 3 million followers across her social media platforms and over 100 million views on her current content, Michelle C. Smith is kicking butt and inspiring many who want to do stunts professionally. She is also a passionate advocate for more recognition of the stunt community for their dangerous and amazing work. Now she comes to When Women Inspire for an interview! Let’s go!

Interview with Michelle C. Smith

As a stunt person, Michelle has appeared in Deadpool, CW’s Supergirl, and many other superhero films and TV series. She also has online classes, tutorials, and social media content that combine for a major platform on combat training, staff skills, and her love of Star Wars. She has taken many martial arts classes, explains movement to actors, and much more. Let’s get to the interview with this awesome woman.

Have you always loved Star Wars? Is it the action scenes, the costumes, or something else?

Yes! I loved Star Wars from the start. My first memories were from my early, early childhood watching Empire Strikes Back with my dad. I remember loving Darth Vader…I think I called him Dark Vapour for a long time. Lol.

I was in middle school when the special edition VHS set came out and we watched it in my Language Arts class. I was hooked ever since then. I watched those first 3 movies many, many times!

For me what I love about the Star Wars universe is that there’s so much variety! The galaxy is such a massive place and that really affords to have such interesting and different characters… especially villains! I love a solid villain redemption arc, and Star Wars really delivers on that.

Now I understand why Star Wars is a fixture in your social media posts! If you could be one Star Wars character, who would it be?

ASAJJ VENTRESS! She’s my girl. I actually hadn’t watched any of the Clone Wars cartoons until my fans started suggesting Ventress to me. When I finally got around to watching the show, I instantly knew that this is the character I will play!

She dark, twisted, and full of pain which brings out this turmoil in her that’s really interesting to me. Especially because she’s been training and honing her skills since she was a child…just like me! Obviously, she does some awful things that I cannot relate with but for me, the villain of the story is always the most interesting character!

Plus, she wields two sabers, and that’s one of my favourite weapons setups.

What is one stunt from film or TV that’s extra memorable, and why?

There are so many to choose from!! All of my stunts are memorable in some way.

The one that always comes to mind was on a TV show called Continuum about ten years ago. The Stunt Coordinator had stated that it was “just a little tumble down a hill.” In my mind, I was thinking a soft, grassy mound. Easy, no problem!

Turns out, it was more of a ravine in the mountains full of rocks, trees, and shrubs!!

My action was to run full speed at a Stunt Guy, tackle him to the ground as we fall in tandem down this “hill.” It was pretty gnarly but also thrilling! They had the rain towers on, so it was a big muddy mess. We had a great time!

Awesome! To someone who wants to become a Stunt Performer, what advice would you give for starting in the industry?

I get asked this question a lot! My best advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry is to start training! Stunt Performers NEVER stop training! Our job is so physical and requires such an abundance of high-level skills that you have to stay at the top of your game to remain competitive with the industry.

Martial Arts is a great place to start. Especially Boxing and/or Muay Thai. Throwing a punch will come up in every fight.

You also need to train your Falls and be able to hit the ground safely over and over and over again… while performing full out. Judo, BJJ, and Aikido are all great disciplines to learn how to break fall safely. But also, just going to a gymnastics centre and falling on the mats is essential!

Lastly, Stunts is all about relations and connections! (This was the hardest part for me to break in since I’m so socially awkward and introverted!) We don’t work with agents in Stunts so all of the work you get comes from who you know, what skills you have and what your reputation is.

The best tactic is to go hang out where the Stunts hang out and make friends! These are martial arts dojos/gyms, park gyms, gymnastics centres, movement/action seminars, etc. Ideally, you would want to live in a city with an active film industry as well.

How did you get into the Industry, Michelle C. Smith?

My journey into the Industry started with Dance and Circus! I initially set out to become a professional dancer when I was about 18/19. I was sure I was going to dance for the Backstreet Boys! That didn’t happen, but I did do a few touring shows and gigs here and there.

Feeling like I needed something new, I started working and training with a professional circus company called the Underground Circus. I performed with them for almost 10 years doing silks, hoops, rope, hand to hand… We performed all over the world and throughout Canada. We were busy and had regular shows so I really learned a lot of playfulness in performance and professionalism of dealing with adversity on the fly.

The Circus and Stunt community here in Vancouver is quite closely connected so at some point I started meeting other Stunt Performers and learning about their job. One day, we were playing at the gym, and somebody put a sword in my hand, and that’s when I knew Stunts was going to be a part of my life.

I didn’t know how, but I just started walking along the path, and here we are!

Stunt performer Michelle C. Smith
Stunt performer Michelle C. Smith. Photo credit: Ror Tio.

I’m curious, is getting recognition as a woman doing stunts challenging?

YES! Stunt Performers are the unsung heroes of the film industry.

We’re the invisible performers on set, our job is to step up to the plate when necessary and fade into the background when we’re done. But we’re always there!

Our faces on camera, we are present in a scene, we are there working with the actors and crew to bring each story to light in the best possible way. Many of my peers, including myself, have been training in our respective abilities since we were small children. Decades and decades of training, at high levels, we are professional athletes and professional performers.

We do our job at the risk of our own health and safety. We, of course, take all the precautions necessary, but still…there’s always a risk. That’s why we’re there!

The Stunt Department is CRUCIAL to the success of a project. Yet, there is still no Academy Award for our work! We’re the only department, aside from Casting, that isn’t recognized for our contributions to the industry as a whole. AND…on a lot of TV shows we work on, they don’t even put our names in the end credits!!

I hope one day, this will change, and I feel honoured to play a small role in shifting the current narrative. One day, you’ll see me and my friends up on the stage receiving our Oscar for Best Action Design!

I’ll be applauding when you do! What could remedy the issue, do you think?

Honestly, I have no idea. There are very deep, inner workings politics within the industry that I don’t fully understand. Stunt Performers have been campaigning for an Oscar since 1991!!!!!

Personally, I think that the best we can do as performers is to continue doing great work and sharing our stories whether through social media or articles like this! There are SO many really cool Stunt Performers out there with AMAZING stories that I believe the world would be fascinated by!

Speaking of performing, let’s talk next about your online classes. What can we expect from the courses?

Yes, I do! I teach Staff Spinning, Weapons Spinning, and a variety of other skills in my online membership called The Freestyle Staff Academy. There are TONS of tutorials, combo courses, a monthly membership, and even a FREE course available! I also offer regular in-person and online workshops at all levels. I’m currently one week into a 6 Week Online Freestyle Staff and Saber Spinning Bootcamp!

Students of Freestyle Staff Spinning come from all walks of life, ages, abilities, genders, and expressions. Whether you’re looking to compete in competitions, perform on stage, or just have fun and improve your skills, Freestyle Staff Spinning is a fantastic way to add some playful fitness into one’s life!

Find a FREE COURSE for freestyle staff spinning here

And here is the Freestyle Staff Academy for more classes with Michelle C. Smith

What are you hoping to teach the next generation through your classes, tutorials, and social media posts?

Through the classes I teach, lessons/tutorials I post, and all the content I create, I want to teach people how to embody their fullest and highest potential. The practice of Freestyle Staff Spinning is so much more than just doing cool tricks with a stick. It really teaches you about perseverance, determination, body awareness, coordination, and celebrating the small victories. There’s so much that you learn about yourself in trying a new skill, dropping it, deciding to pick up your staff, and trying again…and again…and again…

That is life! You’re constantly picking yourself up off the proverbial floor and trying again. Imagine the confidence you could bring to your life knowing that if you can learn this cool, complex Staff Spinning trick, you can learn to do anything!

Connect with Michelle C. Smith online

She’s blowing up on social media with her great videos! Find Michelle C. Smith on Instagram and Tiktok today. And hit the Subscribe button on YouTube.

Find out more about this self-proclaimed “Professional Badass” at Michelle C. Smith’s official website. Finally, check out the courses at the Freestyle Staff Academy.

Thank you for being here today, Michelle! Keep empowering women, showcasing your great skills, and advocating for more awareness for Stunt Performers!

Interview update! Asajj Ventress Fan Film releases on May 4

As the interview finished, Michelle left us with these words:

Stay tuned for May 4th! We’re dropping a live-action Asajj Ventress Fan Film! It’s going to be EPIC!

True to her word, Michelle C. Smith dropped THIS film on Instagram on Star Wars Day, May 4th, 2023. Written, directed, and produced by Standon Chong, this film features Michelle C. Smith in action as Asajj Ventress! Check it out:


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Privacy & Cookie Policy
%d bloggers like this: