Divergent stunt woman Alicia Vela-Bailey was interviewed by CorrienteLatina. During the interview Alicia talked about filming. training, fear and Shailene Woodley.
LR: You went from gymnastics, to dance, to stunt-doubling for some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Did it ever cross your mind you’d be an award-winning stuntwoman?
AVB: Hahahaaa absolutely not! Back when I was a gymnast and a dancer, the thought of becoming a stuntwoman had never even crossed my mind at all actually! It wasn’t until my friend, Nito Larioza, called me up one day out of the blue, to ask me to fly out to Los Angeles and audition to stunt-double for the lead actress, Milla Jovovich, for the movie Ultraviolet. And it wasn’t till then that I realized, oh right, actors have people to do the real dangerous action for them. I had never really thought about it much before thats why. Watching movies you just think, oh wow that was a cool move, or fight. It never crossed my mind that, that was a stunt double doing the really cool stuff! But yeah, once I got into the stunt business, I had no idea there were even awards for stunt people! Its very cool to be recognized for your hard work thats for sure, but its not the reason why we do it of course. But I must say I was very surprised when I got the call that I was nominated for two Taurus Stunt Awards on my first movie Ive ever worked on Ultraviolet! It was pretty damn cool just to be nominated!!!
LR: What kind of mental and physical preparation do you go through before each stunt?
AVB: Well it all really depends on what the stunt is. Not all preparation is the same thats why. For this film we had about 5-7 weeks of training and rehearsals. And while we were shooting we continued to train and rehearse when we had the time. This film had such a large variety of stunts, you wanted to make sure you were in good shape, healthy and ready for anything. We had our own little boot camp going on for us and the actors, to make sure everyone was in good shape and prepared for all the action that was in the film. And on the day of filming you just have to know that things might change last minute and conditions might not be exactly what you thought they would be. Rehearsing a stunt is one thing, but on the day of filming you have props and wardrobe and set pieces that might make the action a bit more difficult to do sometimes. So being able to adapt to any situation always helps. Just have to stay focused and not let anything distract you.
LR: Is there any kind of fear involved?
AVB: Not everyone will admit this, but yes, I feel there is some fear involved in stunt work. Especially on the really dangerous stunts. As much as you train and as much as you feel ready, things can always go wrong. Even the most simplest of actions can go wrong and people do get hurt. But thats part of our job, its part of the risk we take in the stunt business. Keeps you on your toes, and makes it exciting at the same time. For me, I feel that having a little fear helps me stay more focused on what Im doing, and helps me to be ready for just about anything.
LR: You’ve done lots of stunt work, so, Im curious to know if you still experience that weird feeling in your stomach when dropping? (especially on a free fall thats 70 feet?)
AVB: Ohhh yes! I still get that heart drop feeling. But I LOVE that feeling! I’ve always loved roller-coasters and going on big rides. But free falling without being strapped in to anything or not having a parachute is a lot different! Makes the heart-drop feeling more intense thats for sure! Its that feeling of fear and excitement all at the same time. And knowing that if things go wrong, you could die, makes it that more intense!
LR: How much time did you spend with Shailene Woodley on set?
AVB: I spent a lot of time with Shai. We helped her train almost everyday for about 6 weeks or so before filming. And once we started filming I think I saw her just about everyday I was on set! She is so wonderful to work with. So sweet, beautiful soul, and has such a positive attitude. It was such a pleasure to work with her.
LR: Are there any stunt-based boundaries? (anything you wouldn’t do?)
AVB: Hmmmm… Not off the top of my head. But who knows, maybe sometime down the road if there’s something that doesn’t sound right or sit well with me, I’ll just have to be honest and go with my gut feeling and say no, if I don’t feel comfortable with the action. But as of right now I have not had to say no to any stunts that I’ve been asked to do.
LR: What did you enjoy most while Divergent was in Production?
AVB: I enjoyed getting to know the cast and crew! Everyone was so nice to work with on set, it made it not feel like work sometimes. Working together for months at a time, you start to feel like a family a little bit. Making new friends, creating new bonds and memories, makes it even more enjoyable being on set.