A FEMALE stunt driver has declared that she will always fight for what's right.
The Hollywood stuntwoman and precision driver, Zandara Kennedy, is Canada's only out LGBTQ athlete as well as a proud ambassador for Racing Pride, which aims to promote inclusivity in motorsports.
She lives life on the edge, pushing boundaries on and off set, to help ensure those following in her footsteps have equal opportunities.
Yet Zandara and her fellow daredevil women in the trade appear to have finally smashed one barrier which quite rightly infuriated them.
For far too long, Hollywood bosses would prefer to use men in wigs as stunt doubles for women rather than actually use female daredevils like Zandara.
White performers have even been "painted" to change their appearance if they are standing in for performers of color.
Everything came to the boil in September 2020 when stuntwoman Crystal Santos spearheaded a campaign to end the "wigging" practice once and for all.
“In the stunt industry, diversity and inclusion have long been overlooked and discouraged, and it’s long past time for these practices to end,” said Santos in an open letter labor union SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists).
The call to arms has worked, Zandara claims "wigging" is pretty much a thing of the past, and that the protests of 2020 helped shift perceptions in the industry and has since given women far more opportunities.
"We've really pushed against painting and wigging," she told The U.S. Sun during a break in her preparations for the Formula Drift championships.
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"We've kind of stopped accepting that and started pushing for people that are appropriate as doubles for the performers for a number of reasons.
"I've been really fortunate to be around and have my career be built at a time when people were willing to hire women for driving."
The situation has certainly improved yet Zandara will keep on attempting to push the boundaries. There is still work to do, but the foundations for progress are firmly in place.
"I always say, I will know that things have shifted when I'm doubling a man. We don't see the driver anyway. Why does it have to be a man?" she said.
Men may continue to dominate the industry – one estimate claimed 70% of stunt performers were male – but the tide is turning.
"Part of the reason that I chose driving aside from the fact that I loved it, was as I was quite young and trying to get into stunts, I met a lot of former stunt women who were only in their early forties, but I saw a lot of stunt men who were much older than that," Zandara explained.
"Our union did a study about 10 years ago where they found that the peak earning years for a woman were roughly age 23 to 33 as a stunt performer.
"And for men they were 23 to 43. So that's a length of career that is double. So I saw these women at 40 suddenly going,' oh, I'm not getting hired as much for physical stunts, maybe I should become a driver. '
"But becoming a stunt driver is at least a 10-year investment in your skill set.
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"You need to already have those skills. When you're not getting hired for the other stuff, my logic was if I train now, I will guarantee myself more career longevity.
"And also, I loved it."
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