Interview With Acclaimed Stunt Woman Kate Petersen!

Cyber Evolution Chimelong Paradise water stunt show China. Photographer: Universal Artist Photography, Mason Sharrow

Struck by her sexy confidence, we aren’t surprised in the slightest to find out that directors are similarly impressed when acclaimed stuntwoman and performing artist Kate Petersen enters the room (or the stage). True to her authentic self, Kate finds that she is often cast in roles where she plays “tough, sexy and strong” leading characters. This persona often comes across in roles as a leader of a group or head of militia, and was especially embodied in Kate’s “Rescue Ops” character where she acted alongside co-star Brian Allen Keith (“Sex & the City” and “Baywatch”). These roles resonate with Kate and maintain her passion for the sensational work that she does.

Her combat scenes, fire burns and high falls have taken Kate all over the world, playing leading roles in world-renowned live shows such as; Seaworlds’ “Pirates Unleashed,” Movie Worlds’ “Fright Nights,” Dream World’s “Kevil Hill and Daydream Circus” and Chimelong Paradise’s “Countdown till Destruction” and “Cyber Evolution.”

Kate gained a name for herself starring on television series like, “Totally Wild” and “Australia’s Got Talent” at a young age and in front of large live crowds. These types of experiences, combined with her impressive skill-set and her award-winning background (Kate placed first in gymnastics team nationals for Australia and won a scholarship from the Australian Acting Academy) fueled her confidence and strength. Kate begins the interview modestly, but we soon find out that her rare and varied combination of stunt skills is what makes her unique in the world of stunt performers, especially at the young age of twenty-three.

Next up Kate will be touring the US performing live in “Tidal,” which will combine her acrobatic, stunt and gymnastic skills with street entertainment. “Tidal” is scheduled to begin touring in September 2016.

To hear more about Kate’s specific skills, challenges she has overcome and her thoughts on living abroad, read our interview below.

Can you tell us where you are from and a little bit about some of the unique skills you incorporate into your work as a performing artist?

KP: I am from Gold Coast, Australia and some of my skills include figure skating, gymnastics, circus aerials and groundwork, diving, stunts and acting.

When did you first realize performing was something that you wanted to do as a career?

KP: I started doing gymnastics at a young age and I was scouted at a competition when I was twelve and was asked to join the circus. I immediately loved it and that’s when I realized I wanted to pursue it as a career.

What was the first job you had as a performing artist?

KP: My first performing job was with the “Trix Circus” back when I was twelve. I trained with them for 6 months and then we went on tour, joining with the “Aston Circus” all around Queensland, Australia.

When it comes to working as a stuntwoman in the industry what are some of your special skills?

KP: My specific skills as a stunt performer are high diving, stage combat, high falls, fire burns, repelling, whip cracking, precision driving, ice-skating and gymnastics.

How long have you been training in each of these areas? If you had to pick one or two, what would you say your favorite “stunt” skill is to perform? 

KP: I have been training in gymnastics since I was three, ice-skating since I was thirteen and all of the other stunt skills for the past five years. My favorite stunts are precision driving and high falls.

Can you tell us about some of the live shows you’ve done over the years?

KP: I have performed with many companies doing live shows and one of the first was the “Super Performance Centre.” I was in a number of their productions and corporate events. Being the lead performer, I had multiple individual acts including the “Spanish Web,” hula hoops and trapeze. I was also the performance coordinator, which involved choreographing group acts, managing and maintaining performers as well as show quality.

Not long after this I performed in shows at the Gold Coast theme parks including Seaworld’s “Pirates Unleashed Acrobatic & High Diving Show,” Movie World’s “Fright Nights” and Dreamworld’s “Kevil Hill and Daydream Circus.” I played lead roles in all of these shows and I gained more skills and experience with every performance.  

My experience in these shows then took me to China where I performed in the largest water stunt show in the world. I did two shows at the theme park Chimelong Paradise including “Countdown till Destruction” and “Cyber Evolution.” I was performing multiple lead roles and this is where I gained a lot of my stunt experience.

Living in China was my biggest challenge having to adapt to the culture and leave all my family and friends in Australia but it was worth it to pursue my dream job.      

Can you tell us about some of the film projects you’ve done?

KP: I have been in several films. My first big acting job was starring in a film called “Rescue Ops.” This film was directed and shot in China and I not only acted in the film, but I also preformed fight scenes and my own stunts. I was playing a secret agent along side with my co-star Brian Allen Keith (“Sex & the City” and “Baywatch”) who played the role of Director Black.

My character was a role I really connected with, as I was a tough, sexy and strong secret agent who was trained to infiltrate the most dangerous organizations in the world. Getting to work on an international action film like “Rescue Ops” only fueled my fire to pursue acting and stunts in the film industry.  

How about television projects?

KP: I was featured as a performing artist on “Totally Wild,” which is an Australian television series. I was showing my skills as a circus performer including acts such as straps, partner acrobatics and triple trapeze. I was interviewed by the television presenter Jessica Skarratt about my training in the circus, how I got into it, shows I was performing in and my goals for the future. It was great exposure as I was young and eager to get my name out there as a performing artist in Australia.

I also was a contestant on the popular television series, “Australia’s Got Talent” in 2010. I was performing fire poi and fire hula-hoop along side my friend Shaun who did fire-staff. We did various interviews backstage with Grant Denyer and on stage with three judges Dannii Minogue, Brian McFadden and Kyle Sandilands. There was a huge crowd of over 3000 people and the experience was absolutely exhilarating.

They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?

KP: I want to perform for the rest of my life. It brings me great joy and makes me feel strong and confident so I don’t mind what I’m doing as long as I love it. I’ve performed in a number of different productions and shows and I’ve gained different experiences from all of them and I find it only builds my career for future projects.

What about performing makes you feel strong and confident?

KP: I think because I have performed in front of all different crowds ranging from one to 40,000 people. I gained a lot of confidence over the years and the more skills I gained the stronger I became. To do the different skills I perform I have to keep my body in extremely good physical shape doing extra cardio and workouts on top of my skills training. Each different skill requires different muscles in the body so I have to make sure I am ready for everything.   

Have you been in any commercials or music videos?

KP: Last year I was in a commercial in China for “Lao Yang Dumplings.” I was a stunt performer and had 3 fight scenes. The commercial was for their new restaurant and was aired on multiple media channels in China.

Do you feel like having such a broad skillset has given you an edge in the industry?

KP: Yes for sure. I have gained so much experience and a wide variety of skills from doing a number of different shows and performances and it definitely gives me a unique and intriguing resume.

Having a rare combination of so many different skill sets in the stunt industry is definitely a plus as directors and coordinators can feature me in different roles, using various skills in films, television shows and commercials.

It is incredibly unique to have all of these skills as most performing artists specify in one area and not several. I have trained these different skills from a very young age and for a twenty three year old I have more experience than most people who are performers.

Do you feel that you get cast to play a certain type of character more than others?

KP: Yes for sure. I am usually cast as a lead role for a powerful and strong woman in charge. I’ve played many characters in my live shows that involve me being the leader or the head of an army or group.

You mentioned that this type of character resonates with you, do you feel that your background and training has contributed to supporting your character of feminine strength, or is that something innate that you exude in your everyday life?

KP: I would have to say both. My skills definitely helped of course but some of the challenges I’ve faced in life have definitely made me stronger. For example, I had back surgery in 2010 and that was one of the hardest things to overcome. I was out of training for 6 months but I pushed through it and still managed to get all of my skills back within a few months. Performing is my absolute passion and I would do anything to continue pursuing that for the rest of my life.  

Do you have anything that you’ll be working on in the near future that you can tell us about?

KP: I’m currently working on “Tidal,” which is a live show produced by Joston Theney of Sinning Networks. This show is a modern, fantasy re-imaging of the Tale ‘The Ugly Duckling’ as told through the sordid trauma of young Corbin’s family’s brutal divorce.  Federique of the North appears to deliver him from darkness and self doubt. I will be using a combination of my acrobatic, stunt and gymnastics skills in the live show and it’s scheduled to tour in September 2016.

What is it about being a performing artist that you love most and why are you passionate about continuing on with this career path?

KP: I love performing the skills that I’ve worked so hard on and doing something that I absolutely love as a career everyday. I want to continue to develop more skills and experience, I am working towards directing my own show or movie. This is something I’ve trained towards my entire life and I can’t imagine doing anything else now, this is my absolute passion and it drives me everyday to do these amazing things that I dream about.

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