When I meet people who’ve ditched the office for a life underwater, on the slopes or in the forest, I’m inspired and look at them like they’re smeared in Vaseline – as in, they’re in soft focus, not literally covered in a tub of petroleum jelly.
So when I met Anna Scott-Stephenson, I listened, gob open, to her adventurous life. She’s training to be an ass-kicking, slick-swimming, hard-nut stuntwoman. And unlike the boys in the industry, she’ll probably be doing a lot of it in high heels, looking stunning as a body double for a Hollywood actress.
Here, she exclusively tells The Adventure Girl’s Guide why she’s entering such a competitive and daredevil career, becoming one of only 100 women on the British Equity Stunt Register. And guess what she’s also training in? Scuba diving! Welcome to a new girly diver…
This year started incredibly different to any other year of my life, as I began my training to become a stuntwoman. Having graduated from drama school with a degree in Acting & Stage Combat I had my heart set on working in the industry. Only afterwards did I truly learn how competitive it really is, being one of thousands of actresses all wanting the same thing. How many 5ft 9 brunettes just like me are out there? A lot! Having always been interested in stunts and from working on set, I started to learn more and more about the stunt world. One of the main things that stood out was that there are only around 100 women on the British Stunt Register. How many 5ft 9 brunettes? A lot less than actresses that’s for sure!
Qualifying as a stuntwoman is a huge challenge in itself. The level of skill required is extremely high and will take a great deal of time and money. However, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue, so in January 2013 I began my training.
You need a minimum of 6 skills to join the stunt register. The skills I have chosen are Aikido (Japanese martial art), Rock Climbing, Scuba Diving, Trampolining, Gymnastics and Swimming. Each skill has its own requirements, all of which are to a very high standard. This training is far from boring. It’s more of an adventure, a journey, which is enabling me to achieve things I never thought I would. Yes it is hard, but extremely rewarding and enjoyable at the same time.
One of the skills I have chosen is Scuba Diving, which I had never done before. I was actually a little apprehensive before I started. I began in April and started progressing through the courses one at a time. The level I have to achieve is PADI Divemaster, which is a professional qualification. This is a huge challenge as I will have gone from a beginner to a pro in a relatively short space of time.
I did my first three courses with a company called London Scuba, who were absolutely brilliant. I have just achieved my Rescue Diver qualification and I am due to start my Divemaster course early next year. London Scuba have helped, encouraged and guided me through my courses so far and made my training so enjoyable; they made me feel so comfortable in the water.
I wanted to get as much experience as possible so decided to book a Liveaboard holiday to the Red Sea. Owning most of my own kit at this stage, I had the most amazing week living on a boat and diving the Red Sea every day. My diving progressed so much throughout the week and I saw some fantastic sights that I will never forget… like swimming with a pod of 14 dolphins, seeing some of the world’s most beautiful reefs and exploring WWII shipwrecks.
I would love one day to be able to use my scuba diving skills in the film world, potentially doing underwater scenes, but until then my journey continues…
You can keep up with Anna’s adventurous career at www.annascottstephenson.com or follow her on Twitter. If you love sports and outdoor activities and want to follow in Anna’s footsteps, here’s some advice on becoming a stunt performer.
So when we see Keira Knightley scuba diving in a sword fight on a trampoline, it could be Anna…