March 23, 2023

LAWT News Service


In a salute to Women’s History Month, the Black Stuntmen and Women’s Association (BSA), presented an honorary membership to Capri Maddox, executive director of the Los Angeles Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department (LA Civil Rights). The presentation was hosted by Community Build, Inc.

“Ms. Maddox may not be in danger of breaking a limb on the job like we were, but she is always on the front lines, fighting for the rights of all the people in Los Angeles,” said BSA President Alex Brown, a stuntman for over 30 years, who presented Maddox with a certificate.

“We’re making her an honorary member of the Black Stuntmen and Woman’s Association for her ability to defend the underserved and still land on her feet.”

Former Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Maddox to the newly created department in February 2020 as its first executive director to address systemic racism and bias in the areas of commerce, education, employment, and housing. Under Maddox’s leadership, LA Civil Rights works to level the playing field through partnerships with the Commission on Civil Rights, Commission on the Status of Women, Reparations Commission and the Human Relations Commission, including the Transgender Advisory Council.

Los Angeles’ first participatory budget pilot program, L.A. Repair, which is operated by the Office of Racial Equity, is one of the many programs in Maddox’s LA Civil Rights Department.  Other programs include Equity and Empowerment, LA FOR ALL: Stop Hate Resource Hub and Discrimination Enforcement.

In accepting the honorary BSA membership, Maddox called out the Hollywood movie industry for its treatment of Black stuntmen and women.

“We consume their product.  I think it’s about time that they show respect for our community and definitely show respect for our stunt members that have been hurt over the years, that have been underpaid, that have been disrespected with [White stuntmen performing in] blackface. And It’s still happening,” Maddox said.

The Black Stuntmen and Women’s Association made history in the 1960s as early pioneers in the film industry. Following years of being denied jobs as stunt doubles for Black actors, BSA sued the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).  The lawsuit was settled out of court and provided a path for Black stunt workers to obtain membership in the SAG, paving the way for jobs for Black stuntmen and women in front of and behind the camera, literally ‘changing the face of Hollywood.’

Four original BSA members attended the event with BSA President Alex Brown - Joe Tilque, William J. Upton, Jadie David and Phyllis Linda Ellis.  David and Ellis were two of the early female stunt pioneers.  

Because of discrimination, Ellis was never able to obtain her Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card, which would have allowed her to get screen credit for her work.  Despite this, during her 30-year career, Ellis performed hundreds of independent uncredited stunts and worked behind the scenes in hair, make-up and wardrobe. 

In the early 1970s, David was spotted riding one of her horses in Griffith Park and was recruited by a scout looking for a stunt double for actress Denise Nicholas.  David’s career spanned over three decades.  She was a stunt double for Pam Grier, Theresa Graves, Cicely Tyson, Whoopi Goldberg and others.

As a part of the ceremony, Councilwoman Heather Hutt (Council District 10) presented BSA members with a certificate of ­appreciation for 55 years of service in the entertainment industry. 

“For 55 years, BSA has broken barriers and opened doors and created opportunities and probably hurt themselves along the way,’ said Hutt. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate women’s history month, than to talk about the women that participated as stuntwomen in this business.  It really embodies what it takes to move the needle forward in these kinds of industries.”

The BSA also bestowed Community Build President Robert Sausedo with an honorary membership for his fight for equity and inclusion.

“Robert Sausedo has been taking the lead in the battle to make our community a better place,” said Brown. “He may not be jumping out of burning buildings, but he and his team have been putting out fires in the community and we want to recognize him for that.”

The Black Stuntmen and Women’s Association was a featured element in the 2019 city hall exhibit, “Blacks in Cinema” and is a component of the African American Heritage Month Legacy Project curated and produced by Albert Lord, vice president of Government Relations and Arts Programs for Community Build, Inc.  The “Blacks in Cinema” exhibit is currently on display as a walking window exhibit in Leimert Park at the offices of Community Build, Inc.

Category: News