Maria Hippolyte hails from East London and is one of a few British Black registered stunt actresses.
Beginning her professional career as a dancer, she then went on to graduate with a Bachelors Degree from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Hippolyte then became a circus performer at the Millennium Dome, going on to perform at the 2006 Commonwealth games,
After becoming a registered stunt actress Hippolyte went on to star in her first feature, Wonder Woman, with follow up roles in Avengers
On the eve of the 91st Oscar awards and Black Panther being nominated for Best Picture, TBB Talks caught up with Hippolyte to find out more about her career and why stunt performers are fighting for recognition during award season …
Introduce yourself …
Maria Hippolyte, stunt actress
Which came first the desire to act, or to get into stunts?
My desire for stunts came first, coming from a circus background the risk element has always been there and not wanting to lose the physicality and movement knowledge I’ve gained over the years through dance and circus.
My love of movement and expressing myself though
Was there a person, or a scene which triggered your interest?
Thinking back I would have to say Jackie Chan’s film, Armour of God is the one film that woke me up to the idea of stunt work. Watching him fight these four kickass black women sparked something in me that said I could do something like that.
Is there an iconic stunt person who is a legend in the field – and what does that mean? Because for an actor they become the character, for a director they direct an effective piece, w
I think Buster Keaton is the man who set the bar for stunts. In regards to this question, stunts are so vast that you can never really aspire to one person. As a stunt performer, you may have to drive, ride a motorbike, high falls, car hits, stair fall, falling through a roof the list goes on. From watching and speaking to some amazing stunt performers consistency in one performance, making the stunt believable; your work ethic, training.
The self-development work never stops.
How does someone train to be a stunt person?
In every country it’s different but here in the UK, we have a stunt register that once you have done the training, you’re added. The skills are changing so I can’t really comment on it until they have
What’s the environment like for black stunt people? Black stunt women? There are a lot of movements ranging from 50/50; Times Up, Inclusion Riders, diversity standards in front of and behind the camera, is there something for stunt people when it comes to racial and sexual harassment, and increasing diversity?
That’s an interesting question. So far I haven’t been treated any differently to any other stunt performer I’ve been welcomed and respected by those that I have worked for. Maybe the obvious is people noticing that it is just Amanda Foster and me on the register. Currently, we have Equity and the BSR to turn to if any problems do arise.
In regards to the push for diversity, I think the most important thing to remember is that stunts are not for everyone it is
So you were a Dora Milaje in the now record-breaking culture changing Black Panther, how did you hear about the role?
When they expanded their search for Black female stunt performers, I was put forward by friends and people who I’ve worked for in the industry
What was the audition process like?
I was asked to perform falls, fights learn a routine and show my own skills which I had to perform in front of the director.
We’ve heard the cast and director Ryan Coogler talk about how impactful, inspiring, family like it was being on set, and powerful to see so many black people as a part of such a monumental moment, what was it like for you?
That’s how it was we were a family on set the energy had a calmness to it at times which is what Ryan had about him. The respect he showed everyone on set was amazing when a director knows your name and pretty much everyone’s names on set shows the respect he has. Stunt coordinators Andy Gill and Jonathan Eusebio showing how psyched they were to have me on board.
I remember my first day on set and Danai and Lupita coming over and talking to me and Chadwick having a laugh with us at training, Michael B Jordan keeping us all warm in his tent on set. Letitia and Daniel would regularly check in on me that I was OK working away from home. It’s the little things that go a long way. Just a great team of people to work with.
Will you be back for Black Panther 2?
That I have no idea about. My fingers and toes are crossed though!
Where will you be watching the Oscars? What are you going to do if Black Panther wins Best
In regards to watching the Oscars, I’m not sure, as stunt performers are not represented at all. The Black Panther stunt assembles won a Screen Actors Guild award this year, but if Black Panther wins Best Picture at the Oscars I know that stunts won’t be included in it. There’s a movement called Stand Up For Stunts which calls for a boycott of the Oscars until they include a category for Stunt Professionals. This is what we would love to see as stunt performers in the industry.
Keep up to date with Maria Hippolyte here.