Monique Ganderton; @MoGanderton
How do you describe your job to your family?
As a coordinator, I choreograph action sequences, and as a stunt double, I step in for actors to perform those dangerous scenes. But it was hard to explain my stunt job to my family in Edmonton. [For years], I’m not sure they even really knew what I did. But then my mom started working in the props department on a movie I was doing stunts for and I had to yell over to her, “Mom! Get me my grenade launcher, please!” I think it was that moment it clicked for her—I could hear her squealing from behind the monitors during the stunt!
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I finished high school in Edmonton and got on the first flight to Toronto to model. I was hoping to take a year and travel before going to school, but I ended up falling in love with film and I stayed in Toronto. Definitely the school of hard knocks!
What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)
I had a job teaching at horseback riding camps when I was 14, then I taught snowboarding and I started modelling at 16; I always had a job. Modelling in Edmonton was pretty funny. Lots of West Edmonton Mall fashion shows! People from high school would always walk by, so it really taught me humility and self confidence, lol.
What was your BIG break? How did you land it?
There are a few levels of big breaks in this business. My stunt one was on The Recruit. I was standing in for Bridget Moynahan and the stunt coordinator let me audition to be the stunt double. I had to climb a 30-foot telephone pole three times; I was exhausted, but landed the gig. I ended up having to do it 13 times on the day we filmed! That was a major wake-up call for how demanding working in stunts was going to be.
What would you say has been your most significant setback, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?
When I injured myself and was physically out for three months, I started taking more acting classes and writing. Ultimately that made me a better performer! There is always a positive path you can take even after a seemingly difficult setback.
Name one piece of career advice you always give.
Never stop acting in a take until they call “cut,” even if you think you messed up. Mistakes can be your most genius moment! I believe this in every aspect of life.
Who is your favourite person to follow on social media from your industry? What do you love about their social feeds?
I’ve loved following Jessie Graff and her journey with American Ninja Warrior! She and her mom have been so inspiring to so many girls and women.
How would you describe your industry in terms of representation and inclusivity?
I think historically the film industry has struggled. When I first started in film, women and people of colour made up a very small portion of stunt performers. Now it’s much more representative of real life. It’s not perfect, but it’s getting better!
Do you think you earn a similar wage as your male counterparts in your industry?
I make a comparable wage to someone starting out as a stunt coordinator, but I definitely don’t make as much as a male coordinating a large studio movie. Not yet. I do plan on it in the future though.
Looking to the future, what excites you the most about your career?
I love being creative and working with new people in new places. I love breaking down a script and designing action. It’s so rewarding.
And what worries you the most about your career?
I try not to worry, but the nature of our business is job by job with no real stability. So, that can be unnerving at times, but it also inspires me to do good work and be someone that people want to work with.