Report Claims a ‘Lack of Diversity’ Contributed a Stunt Woman's Death

ashley.rae | August 24, 2017
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According to a report by Vulture that was aggregated by Yahoo, a recent fatal crash that occurred during the filming of “Deadpool 2” happened because of a “lack of diversity.”

Last week, it was reported that while filming “Deadpool 2,” stunt performer Joi “SJ” Harris, was killed while performing a stunt for the fifth time. It was Harris’ first time performing stunts for a film.

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, crew members stressed the fact that Harris was picked for her role because she physically matched the physical description of Zazie Beetz, who plays Domino in the film, rather than because of her qualifications.

Stunt performer Conrad Palmisano told the Hollywood Reporter last week, “She was a highly qualified motorcyclist racer, but not an experienced stunt person.”

Palmisano claims the pressure to hire someone to match certain racial and gender requirements could have contributed to producers' decision to hire Harris despite her lack of experience.

“The producers put pressure to have somebody of the same sex and ethnicity in a position she wasn’t qualified to be in,” Palmisano said. “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.”

A stunt performer told the Hollywood Reporter, “She was improving, but I was watching her and, oh my God, I thought, ‘It’s just a matter of time before she crashes into a wall or runs somebody over.”

When reporting on the story, however, Vulture and Yahoo! wrote in their headlines the problem that actually contributed to the crash was actually “a lack of diversity.”

The only person who said the lack of diversity could be at fault, however, was the dean of Social Sciences at UCLA.

Darnell Hunt, who produces the “Hollywood Diversity Report” every year, said hiring Harris showed a “problem of a lack of diversity of stunt performers.”

He told the Hollywood Reporter, “If the movie’s producers had to go outside of the normal stunt community to find someone who was both qualified and resembles the actress, that speaks to a problem of lack of diversity of stunt performers.”

However, qualified female minorities with a knack for motorcycle racing and doing stunts don’t appear overnight. In the Vulture piece on the issue, the author notes Gotham recently received backlash for using a qualified white woman wearing dark makeup to perform stunts.

It wasn’t the “lack of diversity” that led to Harris’ death, as Vulture’s headline makes you believe: it was the push to hire more diverse people regardless of their qualifications simply for the sake of diversity.

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