Lack of diversity (in Hollywood) seems to have killed a stuntwoman on August 14th in Vancouver on the set of Deadpool 2, the follow-up to the runaway smash hit of 2016 which grossed almost 800 million dollar worldwide.
Let’s refresh: A fast-talking mercenary named Wade Wilson (character played by Ryan Reynolds) is subjected to a rogue experiment to heal his cancerous illness, which leaves him with accelerated healing powers and a quest for revenge.
The public loved it and the US went wild as from Valentine’s day of last year.
With such box office numbers, it couldn’t be long before Hollywood decided it would need a sequel. Unfortunately for the Deadpool 2 crew, the producers didn’t think of hiring a more experienced stunt driver to double for Zazie Beetz, who plays Domino in the follow-up.
New information now suggests that Hollywood’s lack of diversity has indirectly contributed to the death of stunt woman Joi ‘SJ’ Harris. Harris, a licensed driver, was doing here first feature film as a stunt driver for Deadpool 2 and the film crew had warned producers that if they continued working with her, accidents would happen.
Crew members stated that: “The producers put pressure to have somebody of the same sex and ethnicity in a position she wasn’t qualified to be in. The stunt coordinators caved to the pressure. All the stunt people could do was take it to their higher-ups. They’re going to follow their chain of command.”
As always in Hollywood, there is a precedent. Back in 2014, the same issue made headlines when TV show Gotham tried to use a white stuntwoman in blackface as stand-in for a black actress but was heavily criticized by union opposition. The show caved and hired a black stuntwoman, claiming it had at first “made a mistake”.
Now, though the guidelines of the Screen Actors Guild for stunt coordinators encourage movie producers to both hire diversely and make the industry welcoming for diverse stunt performers, it also specifies that hires should be “qualified”.