LEWISBURG — Brandi Thokey is a Lewisburg native who now works as a stuntwoman for movies and television. She has most recently done work on HBO’s Shameless, NBC’s Chicago PD, CW’s Legacies, and Netflix’s Insatiable.
Thokey attended Tri-County North High School, where she graduated in 2007. She recalls her favorite part of the town was the people.
“My great grandpa Dempsey built a house in Lewisburg, Ohio. My grandma graduated from Tri-County North. Some of my favorite people live there. I was not a part of any clubs in high school. I mostly just traveling around the United States competing on a sponsored martial arts team. In high school my favorite part was my group and friends,” she said.
After graduation in 2007, Thokey continued to travel around for a few years competing in martial arts. After that, she came across an upcoming stunt team in Chicago. She always knew she wanted to be a stuntwoman. When she saw these videos online, she knew that was where she had to go next.
“I went up and trained with them for a few days and they are the most humble and kind and insanely talented and driven people. It solidified it for me. I had to move to Chicago. It wasn’t until 2011 that the opportunity to move up there presented itself to me and I jumped on it,” she said.
“Although once I got there the stunt team had just landed a big movie filming in Chicago. So they closed off their training sessions. I then started training at this amazing martial arts school in Naperville, Illinois. The talent there was insane. I trained with them for three years. Until I was able to finally start training with the stunt crew.
“Training was hard! I had spent my whole life training in martial arts, but martial arts for film is the opposite of what you train your whole life to do in martial arts. Fighting for film and doing stunts the goal is to make the fight or the stunt look good on camera while staying safe.
“Example: looking like you’re punching really hard, but controlling it enough so you don’t hurt the other person and you don’t actually hit them, while making sure your aware of where the camera is. It was a whole different ballgame for me, but I was determined to get it. I would work my day job until p.m. at night, drive an hour to Chicago, and train until one or two in the morning to sleep for four hours, get up, go to work, and do it again.
“I would wake up in the morning feeling like I got run over by a train, but I loved it. I was finally doing the thing I had wanted to do my whole life. Now it was just a matter of landing my first official stunt job and getting my SAG card. That opportunity came to me in 2015. I was booked on two episodes of the showtime show Shameless. Doubling an actress in a few fights and stunts.”
She added, work doesn’t even feel like a job to her. She wakes up every morning existed for the next adventure.
For stunts, she does fighting, fire stunts, high falls, and reactions. Sometimes it is as simple as helping the actress understand the fight. Most recently, she did a stunt on roller skates.
“I have barely scratched the surface of what I want to accomplish in stunts. I’m excited for the future! Getting to where I am was very hard and came with many many many obstacles,” she said. “I am also married. My husband has been supportive or my dream since day one, before I ever booked a job, back when it was just a dream.
“My family will drive eight hours to Atlanta or Chicago to help babysit if I get a stunt job or have anything stunt related. I’m so thankful for all of them. But what I’m the most proud of are my three beautiful babies. They are one, two and four years old. I’m so excited to do life with them.
“I also rescue and foster dogs in my spare time. So my house is always loud. We are always following a stray and trying to get them or fostering dogs who need a safe place to stay and heal until they find their forever home. My son calls us ‘The Rescuers.’”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH