Veteran Stuntwoman Julie Johnson Urges SAG-AFTRA To Ban Stunt Abuses

David Robb

Veteran stuntwoman Julie Johnson met for more than an hour Wednesday with SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and several other guild officials to press for rules that would stop stuntmen from doubling as women and white stunt workers from putting on dark makeup to double for minorities — known in the trade as “paint-downs.”

Johnson, who was the stunt coordinator on the 1970s TV series Charlie’s Angels, has been crusading for decades to ban the practice. “There is not one excuse today that would be legitimate for a stuntman to double for an actress or to ‘paint down’ a white stuntman or woman,” she wrote in a lengthy report she gave to Carteris. “But this is still being done today.”

The guild’s current contract states that stunt coordinators must “endeavor to cast qualified persons of the same sex and/or race” as the person being doubled, which allows the practice to continue as long as they make some minimal effort to find a stunt performer of the same gender and ethnicity as the actor being doubled.

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“This is nothing short of discrimination,” Johnson wrote in her lengthy report about the many problems facing stuntwomen today, including bullying, sexual harassment and unequal pay. “I hope the guild will take this up at its upcoming contract negotiations.”

“Gabrielle couldn’t have been nicer,” Johnson said after the meeting. “I was received with extreme respect, for which I’m grateful.”

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