Death Defying Hollywood Stuntwoman Angela Meryl
Brandon I. Brooks
Sentinel Entertainment Editor
Angela Meryl goes one-on-one with Sentinel for an exclusive interview.Â
If you are a fan of Hollywood action movies than you more than likely have seen Angela Meryl at work but just didnâ€™t realize it was her.Â
Thatâ€™s right, Angela Meryl is one of Hollywoodâ€™s leading stuntwoman and for years she has helped bring some of Hollywoodâ€™s top action scenes to life.
Throughout a career spanning 13-years to date, Merylâ€™s courageous and unsung contributions include risking life day to day as a death-defying stunt double for nearly every gorgeous, black leading lady to include Halle Berry, Beyonce Knowles, Vivica Foxx, Vanessa Williams, Victoria Rowell, Sanaa Lathan, Gabrielle Union, Naomi Harris and Nicole Ari Parker to name a few.
Merylâ€™s career highlights include crashing and flipping ambulances, plunging into the depths of New Yorkâ€™s Hudson River, smashing through glass tables, crashing down massive flights of stairs, dangling from a helicopter in mid-air and more.
This past October, Meryl was honored with the prestigious 2009 Diamond in the Raw Award for noteworthy and outstanding achievements in stunts and her commitment to excellence in the stunt industry.Â
Meryl shared with the Sentinel that she really appreciates fellow stuntwoman LaFaye Baker for honoring her with such a prestigious award.Â The award has been around for two years and itâ€™s not just for women of color as Meryl was honored at this yearâ€™s event alongside actress Jamie Lee Curtis, Emily Proctor (CSI Miami) and boxing legend Lalah Ali.Â
Born in Philadelphia (German Town), early on Meryl moved to New Jersey.Â So she grew up mainly in Willingboro, a little suburban area about a half an hour north of Philadelphia and 45 minutes south of Trenton. Later she moved back to Philadelphia and then back to New Jersey.Â When she got a little older she moved to North Jersey so she could be closer to the city, to New York so she could start working as an actress.Â
â€œI attempted to work as an actress but it wasnâ€™t really working out, to get into the union,â€ Meryl shared with the Sentinel.Â â€œSo a friend of mine kept calling me to double on New York Undercover.Â I wasnâ€™t really interested in doing stunts, I really wanted to act but I was still a tom boy as I still am.Â My friend called me three times and the third time he was like just join SAG already we got work for you on the show.Â So I went and joined and I was actually doubling a woman who was in her sixties.Â They gave me a gray wig, long trench coat and from there I got shot (acting).Â From there it led to driving and then I was like hey, I can do this, I am physical, I am a martial artist, I can do all this stuff and then it kind of blossomed from there.â€Â
Merylâ€™s first big break came when she got called to double Vanessa Williams on â€œShaftâ€.Â
â€œI said, wow I always admired her and watched her and followed her career and I said wow, this is who I am going to be working with as a stunt women, I am going for it,â€ Meryl said.Â â€œThis is my way in to become this person I want to be.Â This was Gods way of telling me, â€œthis is your way in, take itâ€.Â I took it and I just started working in New York. â€œ
Meryl would later move to Los Angeles in pursuit of more work in television and film and the move was the right one because boy did she ever get more work in Hollywood.Â
Some of Merylâ€™s noteworthy movie credits include â€œPirates of the Caribbean,â€ â€œKill Bill,â€ â€œObsessed,â€ Â â€œMiami Vice,â€ â€œAmerican Gangster,â€ and â€œAustin Powers in Goldmemberâ€.Â
Some of Merylâ€™s noteworthy television credits include â€œGrey’s Anatomy,â€ â€œThe Young & the Restless,â€ â€œC.S.I,â€ â€œThe Wire,â€ â€œLaw & Order SVUâ€ and â€œAll My Children.â€
With a variety of character portrayals and a long list of death defying stunts it was important for the Sentinel to understand how Meryl stays prepared for each role.Â â€œI still have a personal instructor, Marcus Salgado,â€ Meryl said.Â â€œWe work on forms, we work on weapons, and we work on combinations, punches, kicks and stuff like that.Â I still run, I do yoga, I swim, I hike and I play with my daughter.â€Â
Not only is Angela Meryl a devoted mother but she is also a dynamic business woman with years of experience.Â
â€œI am an investor and I own properties on both the east and west coast,â€ Meryl said.Â â€œI just passed my real estate exam a couple of weeks ago so I have my license as a realtor. I work with a company called Estates of Today.Â Theyâ€™ve been around for quite some time. As an investor Iâ€™ve been working with them a couple of years, finding them homes and units to buy and to flip and to rent out.Â I guess you could say my other passion is the art of negotiation.â€
What is so profound about Angela Meryl is how soft spoken and laid back she is.Â You would think someone in her profession would be jumping off the wall every five minutes but she was as calm as a school teacher during her sit-down interview with the Sentinel.Â
The Sentinel was also shocked to find out that Angela Meryl has never experienced any major injuries throughout her 13-year career.Â The closest Meryl has gotten to a major injury was on the set of â€œKill Bill.â€ Meryl had to go to the hospital and receive stitches to stop the bleeding after she jumped through a window for a major stunt scene.Â
Currently in production, Meryl is working on the set ofÂ â€œPriestâ€Â (a 2010 movie release).Â Merylâ€™s recent projects include stints on TVsÂ Law n Order SVU,Â MercyÂ andÂ Saving Grace.
With all of Merylâ€™s worldly experience and continued success, the Sentinel asked Meryl to give advice to young ladies who might be interested in making the Hollywood leap.Â
Meryl shared with the Sentinel that you have to stay focused, and do not except no for an answer.Â â€œDo not let anybody tell you that you canâ€™t because my own dad told me I donâ€™t want you taking Karate lessons because I am a girl.Â Follow your heart and follow your passion.Â And again do not take no for an answer because in this business you hear no more than you hear yes and you have to be able to handle rejection because that is part of it unfortunately.Â Â And you have to be in it for the long run.Â You canâ€™t just do it for a year or two years and think you are going to make.Â You have to be in it to win it.â€
For more information on Angela Meryl please visit www.angelameryl.netÂ