Filipino Canadian stuntwoman Maya Macatumpag has been doing stunts since she was eight years old when she landed her first role as a stunt kid in 'Smallville.'
But when she was offered to play a Dora Milaje warrior in Marvel's second Black Panther movie 'Wakanda Forever', Macatumpag said it was a dream come true.
"I was just overwhelmed. really taken aback at the opportunity," Macatumpag shared. "But then I felt like I was ready because I had spoken it when I had seen the first movie and I had told myself that I would do it."
Macatumpag said she was well-prepared for the female warrior role, having done stunts in films while studying and continuing to do so even after finishing a political science degree at the Acadia University.
The only thing is that it meant a major change in hairstyle.
"I would never shave my head for a role but for this movie, I would. Aaron Toney had called me, asked me to do the movie. And he was like, but will you shave your head and I was like, yeah, like I told myself years ago if I got this opportunity I would."
Aside from being Dora Milaje, Macatumpag was also the stunt double for actress Michaela Cole who played the role of Aneka. She also played one of the Midnight Angels.
Macatumpag said being cast in the Marvel movie had opened other doors for her.
"They had asked me to act in a commercial and play a Dora Milaje with Danai who plays Okoye in the film and that was an awesome opportunity that I never really saw for myself, that just came from the movie. And then just getting more opportunities in stunts and to different degrees now," she said.
It was Macatumpag's mother Deb, a veteran stuntwoman, who inspired her to follow in her footsteps. Macatumpag said taking her mom with her to the Wakanda premiere was also a celebration of the person who got her there.
Macatumpag's dad, Ronelio, is from Baguio City, and she had visited there as a child. She said this also opened her eyes to the sacrifices of her grandparents for their family.
Macatumpag went back to the Philippines three years ago, this time to visit Boracay and Cebu, with her husband, pro basketball player Emerson Murray.
Macatumpag expressed her love for the Philippines. "I'm so proud to have my Filipino roots and I intentionally kept my last name for the stage as Maya Macatumpag so that people would know and have to look up that last name and know that that's Filipino."
Before 'Wakanda Forever,' Macatumpag did stunt work for Ryan Reynold's movie 'Deadpool 2', and the TV series 'Supergirl' and 'Supernatural.' Most recently, she did the double for Weruche Opia's Agent Green in 'Slumberland' starring Jason Momoa.
She tells other people of color who want to make it in the film industry to not be afraid to be who they are.
"I know sometimes because we don't get to see ourselves onscreen, and we get told and put into certain boxes of what we should be in this industry, that we try to limit ourselves in our heads, but be courageous, push the boundaries, and show them that we can be so much more than we are."
Macatumpag will be working next in 'The Flash' and the new Apple TV show 'Godzilla.'