Jadie David

Photo of stuntwoman Kym Washington and Jadie David. Kym considers Jadie to be her mentor and friend.

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Stuntwomen and actress Jadie David is known for her work on Escape from L.A. (1996), The Blues Brothers (1980) and Sudden Impact (1983). When she began working in stunts there were no other Black stuntwomen working who were over 5’6″ tall and it was the age of Black exploitation films so she entered the industry easily. She became the first African American woman to actually make a living in Hollywood as a stunt performer. She also took on the industry and fought against racial discrimination in stunt work. She is the co-founder of both the Coalition of Black Stuntmen and Women and the Diamond in the Raw foundation

Jadie David performed her first stunt for a motion picture when she was 21 years old. She was an accomplished equestrian and she was “discovered” while riding her horse in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park. A stunt coordinator, searching for a double for an actress on horseback, had seen Jadie in the park and called her to ask her to work as a stunt double. Intrigued by the challenge, Jadie took the job and a stunt career was born. Jadie spent the next 25 years as a stunt performer, from 1971-1996 and she appeared in a wide range of projects. Some of her credits include doubling Theresa Graves in the first and only hour long TV action drama series starring an African American woman, Get Christy Love (1974-1975).  Jadie performed the first 3/4 fire burn without the aid of a protective fire suit in Mandingo (1975) and performed what was considered to be the second largest stunt of the year in Rollercoaster (1977). In addition, she doubled Pam Grier, one of the leading female action actors of the 1970’s, in the films Coffy (1973), Friday Foster (1975) and Sheba, Baby (1975).

When an on-set injury in forced her to change professions, Jadie decided that she could help insure safety on set for her fellow stunt performers.  She joined Paramount Pictures as a Production Safety Coordinator.  Her responsibilities as Safety Coordinator included making sure productions stayed current with State and Federal Safety Regulations, reading and breaking down scripts for safety recommendations and supervising the production’s safety on set.  In addition, Jadie was responsible for holding safety meetings for all department heads informing them of SB198’s safety requirements.  Jadie also co-wrote one of Paramount Picture’s early Production Safety Programs as well as NBC Production’s first Production Safety Program. 

Looking for yet another challenge, Jadie was hired by the Screen Actors Guild as a Field Representative (1991-1996).  Her experience as a performer coupled with her experience in supervising safety on sets made her a prime candidate for the position.  As a Field Representative Jadie was responsible for contract interpretation and was a liaison between the performer and production.  During the first year of her employment, Jadie saw the need for the Guild to become more involved in stunt safety and the general safety on the set. She went on to develop and manage a Stunt And Safety Department for the Screen Actors Guild.  She re-wrote the Guild’s Safety Manual, making it far more comprehensive and included all applicable Safety Standards and Regulations.  Jadie also served as the Guild’s representative to the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producer’s Safety Counsel.

Jadie’s career has been highlighted on several television Talk Shows such as Geraldo, BET and Phil Donahue, She has been interview by Essence Magazine, Jet Magazine and People Magazine.  In addition, she was featured on the cover of “Emmy Magazine”, an industry trade magazine.  Jadie’s interview with the Screen Actors Guild is one of three recorded in the Guild’s historical records. You can also find her work archived in the National Archives and Records Administration, a government agency that preserves motion picture and sound recording that document important events relating to the history of the United States.   She is a founding member of the United Stuntwomen’s Association and remains an honorary member to this day.  

Believing strongly in the fair hiring of people of color in the entertainment industry, Jadie was Assistant Affirmation Action Consultant for MGM Studios and assisted in locating employment opportunities for people of color (1976). She was co-founder of the Alliance of Stunt Performers of Color and was responsible for creating the first Stunt Performers of Color Directory for the Screen Actors Guild. During that time she worked closely with the Guild’s Affirmation Action Department to increase employment for Stunt Performers of Color (1994).

Jadie Davie is now retired, but she continues to mentor other young women through the foundation she helped co-found with LaFaye Baker called A Diamond in the Raw. The foundation is a 5013c and dedicated to introducing inner city girls to the various employment opportunities in and outside of the entertainment industry.  The foundation also raises money for scholarships and provides activities such as mentorship programs, workshops, shadowing programs, etc. 

Jadie David and LaFay Baker were recognized by the African American Film Market and S.E. Manly Short Film showcase for their accomplishments as pioneers and Sheroes of the “Black Stuntmen’s Association.” and along with the “Black Stuntmen’s Association,” they were inducted into the Smithsonian African American Museum in 2015 for all their pioneering accomplishments.

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