Stuntwoman and actress Jwaundace (pronounced Ja-wan-dece) Candece is regarded by her peers as one of the top stuntwomen in Hollywood. Her over 70 stunt credits include big-budget films such as Scary Movie 5, Dreamgirls, The Help, and The Hunger Games. Her small screen stuntwork includes the shows The Vampire Diaries, CSI, Devious Maids, and Elementary, just to name a few. She’s stunt doubled for the likes of Viola Davis, Queen Latifah, Taraji. P. Henson, Whoopi Goldberg, Tyra Banks, and Jennifer Hudson. Those are just some of the ladies who have Jwaundace to thank for making them look even better in their roles by filling in for them when their characters went to blows, took falls, crashed cars, and were even in flames.
On the list of Jwaundace’s “safer” accreditations, she holds a masters degree in psychology, is a published author and a certified reading teacher, all of which were fields she worked in before her show biz career, which began with her pro wrestling stint as “Delta Lotta Pain” with the Women of Wrestling (WOW) organization in 2000.
As an actress, Jwaundace’s credits are no less impressive. Most recently, she appeared on Cinemax’s new original action series Banshee, on an episode of BET’s popular show Let’s Stay Together, entitled “Hooked On You,” and she had a recurring role on ABC’s Resurrection. This summer, you’ll be able to see her comedic side in the upcoming film Let’s Be Cops with Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson. The above photo is courtesy of Jwaundace herself.
CHRIS CHARLES: I’ve interviewed many actresses and a good percentage of them have performed their own stunts in movies, but not such serious stunts that they would be considered “stuntwomen” like yourself. When did you realize that you enjoyed doing risky things and taking falls?
JWAUNDACE CANDECE: I found my nitch in a school play portraying a clown in “A Clown’s Christmas Party” that involved falling and acting a fool (laughs).
CHRIS: Bruce Willis said in Pulp Fiction, “I’m American, honey. Our names don’t mean shit,” but when I hear an unique name, such as yours, I’m compelled to ask; can you tell me the meaning of your first name?
JWAUNDACE: Simply, a Swahili and French blend meaning “God is with us.”
CHRIS: Ahh, I’m glad I asked. So, your friend and colleague Jasi Lanier, who has some very impressive credentials as a stuntwoman, herself, was the one who brought you to my attention and she speaks very highly of you. I believe that having your peers hold you in high regard is the ultimate compliment. Have you two worked together on many projects?
JWAUNDACE: I first met Jasi Lanier in Atlanta two years ago on Scary Movie 5. We were playing Housewives along with another peer, Ashley Martin, and two other real Housewives, Big Ang and Sheree Whitfield. We had to spoof a fight scene and I must say, a little as Jasi is, she held her own like a grown man. Both her and Ashley gained my respect and the scene turn out to be a success. I heard of her when we both lived in Los Angeles, but we didn’t meet or work together until Scary Movie 5 and we have been training and hanging together ever since.
CHRIS: You’ve played many sports. Which did you excel in when you were in school?
JWAUNDACE: I was a short distance runner in track, at one time the fastest girl in the school, finally beating my sister, and a starting forward in basketball.
CHRIS: You were with the Women of Wrestling (WOW) during their initial run from 2000-2001. Did you consider signing with another wrestling organization after WOW folded in 2001 or decide to leave pro wrestling behind at that time?
JWAUNDACE: When my stunt career took off, I decided to leave wrestling behind. I could not do both because they both were time consuming.
CHRIS: I understand you returned to wrestle for WOW last year, after they relaunched in 2012. Do you still wrestle for them?
JWAUNDACE: I returned so that “Caged Heat” (the name of the tag team Jwaundace was part of) can sorta give up our title for now because I am not sure if I want to pursue wrestling anymore. I am still with WOW, they started my career, so I will always honor them, of course, but I am leaving that side of me behind ….for now.
CHRIS: Ever had any mishaps in the ring?
JWAUNDACE: Of course, when I first started but now I just have the memories of them (laughs). The physical scares have healed.
CHRIS: I’d like to name some ladies you’ve stunt-doubled for, and ask you to tell me what stunts you did for them. Queen Latifah.
JWAUNDACE: Fight scenes, driving, high work, wire work.
CHRIS: Jennifer Huson.
JWAUNDACE: Back seat passenger that spun a car around from the back seat.
CHRIS: Whoopi Goldberg.
CHRIS: Viola Davis.
JWAUNDACE: Falls, driving, ratchet out of a burning house, car crash, tackles.
CHRIS: Tyra Banks.
CHRIS: I know you don’t have to be a dead ringer for the actresses you’re doubling for, but some of the ladies you’ve doubled for, you don’t resemble or are shaped like, at all. What are some of the more extreme things that have had to be done in order for you to look more like the actress you were doubling for?
JWAUNDACE: For the actresses that have more voluptuous figures, I have worn a suit built to their size, and I have padded up and one actress, Taraji P. Henson, I lost 15 pounds to double her for a fight scene.
CHRIS: Do you ever get scared preparing to rehearse a stunt you haven’t performed before?
JWAUNDACE: Not scared but anxious ….there is a difference (laughs).
CHRIS: Have you ever been asked to do a stunt on camera that you weren’t expecting and had never rehearsed before?
JWAUNDACE: Yes, it happens sometimes because a director may see a vision at the last minute but I always stay prepared, mentally more than anything.
CHRIS: Did you ride a motorcycle for enjoyment before you rode them for stunts?
JWAUNDACE: Yes, I have always been a rider of two and four wheel bikes.
CHRIS: I interview a lot of indie actress who do mostly horror films. Have you doubled for any actresses in their “death scenes” when they get slain by the killer?
JWAUNDACE: NO …trust me …I am a HUGE FAN OF HORROR films and I pray that I will be the actress one day in a horror flick and that I can perform my own death scene.
CHRIS: Besides the big name actresses you’ve doubled for, you’ve worked with some big name directors. Who have been some of your favorites?
JWAUNDACE: OH my, a lot of them but mainly; Michael Mann in upcoming Cyber, his daughter Ami Mann (don’t confuse with the singer of the same name) in Texas Killing Fields, Tim Story in Ride Along, Tyler Perry in a few of his movies, Joss Whedon is The Avengers, Tate Taylor from The Help, Lee Daniels from Precious, and Adam Shankman from Bringing Down the House. But of course, all of the directors I’ve worked with have been a jewel.
CHRIS: That’s good to hear because I’ve heard a lot of horror stories from ladies about directors they’ve worked with. So, your latest acting role is in the upcoming film Let’s Be Cops. When did you complete that one?
JWAUNDACE: I completed that last summer and it will be released August 13th. I’m grateful that I made the trailer and it will certainly be the “Funny Movie of the Summer.”
CHRIS: Do you play a straight or a comedic character in that one?
JWAUNDACE: I definitely portray a seriously comedic character. My name is “JaQuandae” in it (laughs).
CHRIS: As this goes to press, I see you have several films in post production. What are you currently working on?
JWAUNDACE:I completed a recurring role on ABC’s Resurrection on their season one finale and the episode before, and I’m excited about starting season two this summer that will begin airing in the fall of 2014.
CHRIS: Besides your show biz credentials, you have a masters degree in Psychology. Do you plan on going into that field after show biz?
JWAUNDACE: No, I did that before. My career as a stunt woman and actor IS my after (laughs).
Chris: You’ve also have a teaching certificate?
JWAUNDACE: Yes, in reading. I’m an advocate for literacy, especially in our youth.
CHRIS: Do you have any hobbies or interests that you don’t include on your bios?
JWAUNDACE: I’m interested in history, particularly mine and my ancestral, Africa, and I love museums and learning how people lived and survived in the past. I love going to the movies and watching TV, I love sushi and wine; my vice.
CHRIS: With that, I’ll say it’s been my privilege to feature you here, Jwaundace and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for you. In closing, any shout-outs to anyone?
JWAUNDACE: Shout out to ALL of my fans, family and friends.
CHRIS: Oh, just one last question: I read from a very reliable source, that you really love to “go round and round in circles.” It that true? JWAUNDACE: (Laughing hard)YES …my four year-old son knows me well!
WOW tag team champs, “Caged Heat,” circa 2001; Vendetta (Nicole Ochoa), Delta Lotta Pain (Jwaundace) and Loca (Cher Ferreyra). When WOW came back in 2012, Caged Heat returned the following year sans Nicole, with just Jwaundace and Cher as a duo.
With Kym Whitley on the set of and episode of the crime drama Standoff,in 2006
Jwaundace with Aloma Wright, whom she stunt doubled for in 2009’s Touched
With Whoopi Goldberg, while shooting a 2009 episode of The Cleaner, entitled “Hello America”
During the filming of 2011’s The Help, with Viola Davis
Astride her personal Yamaha R6
Segment on PHIT TV Jwaundace appeared on early last year. After the
brief interview she runs down what she does to stay in shape.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music biz there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of Effective Magazine, and add him on Facebook and Google+