What it takes to be a stunt performer
SKIDDING around in race cars, skydiving in a corn suit and playing a dead body floating in freezing water – it’s all in a day’s work for Talayna Moana Nikora.
The stunt performer, precision driver and actor often has little idea of what to expect on set but is always up for a challenge.
She credits her stuntman father Rangi Nikora for the sense of adventure she has had from childhood, spending weekends doing gymnastics, fitness circuits and horseback riding.
“I had my first motorbike at five and I jumped off a 3m diving board before I was one,” she says.
“All of the kids wanted to play at my house.”
Her dreams of following in her father’s footsteps were put on hold after he died when she was 14, but Nikora never strayed from the film industry she grew up in.
After years working as an assistant director, actor, safety officer and traffic control supervisor for Who Dares – the stunt and safety expert business founded by her father, she returned to her roots and got her stunt grading in 2009.
Nikora soon found herself hanging upside down in a car explosion as Kate Ritchie’s stunt double in the TV drama Cops L.A.C and has since performed stunts in feature films including Gods of Egypt and A Few Best Men. Getting to work on Mad Max Fury Road in 2014 was a highlight, alongside people who worked with her father on Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in 1985.
“That is the job that I hold dearest to my heart,” Nikora says.
While it is a lot of fun, Nikora says being a stunt performer takes more than a fearless attitude.
“You’ve got to do gymnastics classes, driving classes, Kung Fu classes and keep your fitness up,” she says.
“Stunt performers are highly trained athletes and people are getting fitter and faster than ever.” More information at whodares2.com
Stunt performer Talayna Moana Nikora has a career that is on fire. Picture: Cat Sweeney