Lauren Mary Kim; Living Her Dream

Living Her Dream

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Meet the Extraordinary Lauren Mary Kim, dancer, acrobat, Laker Girl, martial artist, stuntwoman and one of today’s most sought after female stunt performers.

Lauren Mary Kim is a talented beauty who has solidified her place in the professional stunt world by means of hard work and undistracted focus.

The proof of her work ethic and ability to absorb the many and varied teachings she seeks out, is reflected in her impressive resume. You can see Lauren’s expert martial arts and stunt training in movies, television programs and “motion capture” video games. Lauren’s latest career highlight has been her job doubling for Elodie Yung, who plays Elektra in the new Netflix hit series, Daredevil. With daytime rehearsals and night shoots, she still found time…made the time, to continue her training.

Lauren’s expertise can also be seen in; Rush Hour 3 (2007) doubling for Jingchu Zhang, working along idol Jackie Chan. Take a look at the television series Scorpion (2014-2016) where she doubles Jadyn Wong, and the TV series Hawaii Five-0 (2011-2014) where she doubles Grace Park. In the block buster Furious 7 (2015), she doubles Michelle Rodriquez. In  Boone: The Bounty Hunter (2016) Lauren doubles Jane Park Smith and in  Female Fight Club (2016) she stunt doubles Briana Marin.

That’s right. She’s living the dream.

She arrived in Los Angeles from Stockton, California to pursue a career as a dancer. The 105 pound dynamo, who stands 5’4” tall, then checked into a gymnastics class at LA Valley College. Her goal? To sharpen the tumbling skills she would be applying to her performances with the Laker Girls.

Yes. The Laker Girls.

But even then, Lauren was thinking ahead to stunts. The gymnastics class she chose was run by all-around stuntman and gymnastics’ expert Mike Washlake. Lauren was thrilled to find herself surrounded by and training with stunt people, who introduced her to the “Ninja Hour” where you were allowed to work on your own skills.

This was the beginning of Lauren’s stunt career. Surrounded by martial arts experts, she immediately saw how her own movements were in concert with the moves of a martial artist. So in addition to gymnastics, she quickly jumped into learning punches kicks and falls…and the experts around her couldn’t help but notice her natural ability and willingness to learn more.

This was the birth of what has become a busy and exciting career as she made her transition from dancer to martial artist and stuntwoman.

Lauren started her martial arts training at an age when so many martial artists are already wearing a black belt. But Lauren, the consummate student, took the dojos by storm learning everything about the martial arts that she could.

Lauren soon turned her training and natural ability into a money-making career…and she hasn’t slowed down a bit. In fact, she has picked up so much speed that she has the daunting task of having to turn down work because she gets so many offers.

I have been lucky enough to hire Lauren on a few different occasions. She last worked for me on the movie Tooken (2015) doubling for Margaret Cho in a most hilarious fight with Chris Brewster, who was doubling for Lee Tergesen.

In the film, Lauren wields a long sword while Chris fights her with his weapon of choice…a 4 foot long phallus…that’s right, a 4 foot long phallus. The fight was a challenge to choreograph, but with the help of supreme martial artist, Tsuyoshi Abe, it is one of the most talked about scenes of the film.

Yes, it’s a different kind of comedy, but the point is that Lauren brought her best moves, her mastery of martial arts, her expertise of weaponry and fluidity of movement to the table. Combine that with her understanding of film making and how important it is to match your actor step for step, means that the scene is everything that the director needed and the writer envisioned.

Lauren’s martial arts beginnings may have started by dabbling in different styles with her stunt friends at gymnastic class and with some training at the park in a few open-air classes, but her focus on the arts took off when she was working at the front desk of the MMA gym, ‘Legends,’ owned by Randy Couture and Bas Rutten. At ‘Legends’ she began her training in Muay Thai and boxing.

After sparring with a woman who was a half a foot taller than Lauren’s 5’4” frame. Lauren took a beating, went home and cried. Not at the pain, but at the disappointment she was feeling in herself.

Lauren admits that it was a valuable lesson. She’ll never forget what it was like to get hit…hard. She learned how to push forward, to collect her emotions in a tense situation and became motivated to learn more and train harder than ever.

Seeking out the best teachers in town, Master Simon Rhee sent her to train at his master’s class; Jun Chong Tae Kwon Do, where she was able to perfect her kicks, forms and sparring. She credits Master Jun Chong with not only teaching her a range of martial arts, but also giving her lessons about life itself.

Master Jun Chong, sharing  the knowledge, wisdom and tradition of the arts to others who will perpetuate them. Think about this cycle. Nice.

Through some of the hardest work she had ever committed to…the years, the tears, the bloody noses and a broken bones, Lauren received her Black Belt in Tae Kwan Do, and in Hapkido.

This would have been enough learning for most of us, but never one to shy away from a challenge whether from the outside or the inside, Lauren decided to learn the art of Wushu.

Seeking knowledge and learning from experts, Lauren found Wushu demanding as well as compelling. She started training with stuntwoman Ming Qi, then on to Ricky Jacobs and Tim Storms at LA Wushu while also training with Ji Jing, of the Beijing Wushu Team.

The more she would train at his most strenuous art, the more she found it integrating into her soul, her beauty, her power and grace.

In Lauren’s own words, “It is one of the most beautiful Martial arts and I will do it till the day I no longer can. It is highly addictive and fun.”

Lauren is as thirsty for knowledge as anyone you know. She continues to learn from the greats like Master Jeff Imada and Guru Dan Inosanto at the Inosanto Academy, where she is taught that there is no wrong way to do something, but many different ways to accomplish your goal.

Once again, a life lesson taught; received and passed on.

Inosanto, who’s teachings include an appreciation for all the arts and how to leave your ego at the door, also encourages his students to train at other schools and learn from others.

Never one to sit still for long, when she’s not training Wushu, you might find Lauren around town sharpening her skills in TKD, Kendo, Jeet Kune Do, Silat, Filipino MA, and just for fun, a little XMA with teacher Kim Do, or maybe some Tricking or Capoeira between taping her series titled “Kali Diaries,” which shows her progress as a Kali artist.

When Lauren started her career as a stuntwoman, her parents thought it was just a phase. Raised as a traditional Asian, education was everything to the Kim family, and with her degree in business her parents knew that she would soon come to her senses and get a “real” job with her college education.

Not unlike many of our parents, it took Lauren several years for her parent’s to be convinced that she had developed into an extraordinary talent and that her career as a stuntwoman was in full swing!

In her years in the business, Lauren has come up against many barriers…from the scantiest wardrobe to sexism to politics…and has overcome those obstacles with grace and talent.

Able to hold her own in the world of stunts, Lauren has learned how to be tough, have a thick skin and not take too much personally. Her motto, “Rejection can be hard, even now. But you learn to live with it. Be professional, know your boundaries and use common sense.”

Here are some examples of the characters she has had to portray…which will tell you how tough women need to be in this business. She’s played a crazy woman in a hospital gown, naked girl running through the woods and jumping from trees to moving cars; hookers; a stripper clown; crack whore, sex slave; zombie, an elf and Cleopatra.

Yes, Cleopatra.

The majority of these stunt jobs were done while wearing pasties, high heels and skin-tight dresses while still hiding a harnesses or thin pads under the tiniest of wardrobe or the heaviest of costume pieces…oh ya, she still had to perform her action like falling down stairs, being beaten-up or thrown through a window.

One thrilling stunt Lauren did that could have ended much worse for all involved was on Hawaii Five-0.

Lauren accepted the job on the TV show after being told by stunt coordinator, Jeff Cadiente, that there was a huge chance of being injured…not just hurt, but injured…or worse.

Bailing out the back of a moving armored truck is more than tricky, it’s daunting. If you’ve never looked at the pavement flying by out the window of a moving car…you should. It’s freaking scary just imagining jumping out of the car and hitting the pavement…the hard, unforgiving pavement.

Now, think about jumping out the back of the moving armored car with another stunt person!

Lauren, always prepared and with brass-balls readied herself for the gag. Take one went well as Lauren and her partner bailed out the back door of the armored truck at 18 miles an hour. Landing hard on the pavement, a little painful, but a very livable pain.

Then the director asked for take two…and he wanted the truck to go faster.

So take two was done at 21 mph. Now, three miles an hour may not seem that drastic…until you jump tandem out of the back of a moving armored truck and hit the pavement.

They readied themselves for take two. Let me tell you this, that “take-two” is sometimes the hardest thing to make yourself do, knowing you survived the first take and that this take was going to go faster, which means you hit the pavement harder. “Take-two” was a tough one.

Lauren and her partner hit the black top one more time. This time however, was different.

Lauren’s partner hit his head and spewed blood all over the street. While Lauren’s fall didn’t draw blood, she hit the street so hard she could barely get back up on her feet. The first take was a hard hit, now pile on a second fall at a higher speed and you compound the trauma to your skin, muscles, nerves and bones. Ya, it shakes you up.

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After the bail-out from the armored car, Lauren sucked up a few Advil and went right into a fight scene, getting through it like the pro she is.

Then she got to suffer through a week of aches and pains, being barely able to walk before finally coming out the other end.
Ice. Heat. Stretch. Chiropractor. Repeat.

It’s a recovering process that so many stunt people go through after your body has been shocked and abused.

You’ll find highlights of Lauren Mary Kim’s work in Rush Hour 3 (2007), doubling for Jingchu Zhang, working along idol Jackie Chan. Take a look at the series Scorpion (2014-2016) where she doubled Jadyn Wong, Boone: The Bounty Hunter (2016) doubling Jane Park Smith and Female Fight Club (2016) stunt doubling for Briana Marin.

Lauren has had a long and active career and still has so much ahead of her. As a child she dreamed of being in movies and on TV…and now she is living her dream.

Here’s what I personally like about real martial artists; their teaching and humanity go far beyond the dojo. And Lauren has upheld that tradition, that way of living.

In her spare time Lauren has performed for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and visited hospitals to lift the spirits of men and women in service.

As a Power Ranger character she would go to children’s hospitals and charity events; she volunteers at senior living facilities and for children with disabilities through the organization know as KEEN…and she volunteers weekly at a downtown soup kitchen.

“I like being a familiar face to those that come everyday, it feels it is a real positive community and I learn so much about those in need, but learn most importantly that sometimes they may be the happiest and most grateful. Puts life in a different perspective.”

Lauren’s love of action and being physical in activities like pilates, crossfit and trapeze classes, are constantly balanced by her love and appreciation for art, becoming somewhat of a collector. She loves to travel, she even dabbles in making latex molds, enjoys food and wine festivals, museums and meditation groups…and was happily married earlier this year.

Busy girl.

Beautiful, loving, talented, giving and aware…adopting and perpetuating the lifestyle of a martial artist. Sharing her talents and her humanity to all those who are lucky enough to come across her path.

I am honored to be able to tell you a little about my friend, Lauren Mary Kim. From the moment I met her I knew that she was a “hundred percenter.” Someone who meant what she said and was honest about who she is and what she can do…and as a stunt coordinator, that is everything you can ask from professional stunt people.

Want more Lauren Mary Kim? Check out these videos!

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Carl Ciarfalio
Carl Ciarfalio
Carl Ciarfalio is a 35-year veteran of the film and television industry. He enjoys a prolific career as an actor, stuntman, stunt coordinator and voice-over artist. Carl has worked with film and television heavyweights including 'Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Steven Soderbergh, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, Kiefer Sutherland and Chuck Norris.