Get to know Alicia Vela-Bailey; Shailene Woodley's stunt double in Divergent (Exclusive interview)

This post is about the unsung heroes of the movie sets; those that sacrifice it all to make an actor look good. No, we are not talking about the Dauntless soldiers in the background, we're talking about the Divergent stunt people that make movie stars into action stars.  

Divergent's Shailene Woodley has been on record saying that she would like to do her own stunts, which is fine if you are not in the middle of filming the first movie in an action trilogy. We give thanks for the very brave and capable Alicia Vela-Bailey, who is Shailene's stunt double. We here at have discussed the many intense stunts that make up the storyline of Divergent.  We wanted to talk to Alicia and find out what drives the unsung stars of the movie.   

We first learned that Alicia Vela-Bailey was part of Divergent from her tweets about long days on the set. Alicia would often tweet about needing a soak in a tub or a glass of wine after a grueling day on set.  So we decided to learn more. After looking into Alicia's past work, we were incredibly impressed by the list of actresses and movies that Alicia had doubled.

At the age of 21, Alicia was called in to audition to stunt double for Milla Jovovich in the film Ultraviolet. After booking the job, Alicia spent six months in Asia. She spent four months in Hong Kong and two months in Shanghai, China. It was her very first movie experience, her first time being a stunt double, and with martial arts no less. Her performance earned her two nominations for a Taurus World Stunt Award in 2007 (a stunt person's Oscar).

After the film was completed,  Alicia returned to Hawaii to continue dancing and teaching dance. After the passing of her father, Alicia decided to make the move to Los Angeles to pursue her dance and modeling career.

She landed her first dance related audition and became a member of the Pussycat Dolls. This required another move and another leap of faith that landed her in Las Vegas, Nevada.  With the move to Las Vegas complete Alicia would spend 8 months at Caesar's Palace (the casino, not the real Palace) before getting her next blockbuster opportunity.  Titanic's producer James Cameron was starting his next big project called Avatar.  This was the impressive start to a long and illustrious career as a stunt double.  

Here is Alicia's performance in Ultraviolet as Violet's double that garnered her acclaim:

Some of the stunts in Divergent are similar to some of Alicia's other roles; for example, Tris' jump into Dauntless wasn't the first time Alicia has jumped from tall buildings. She doubled for Kate Beckinsale in Underworld: Awakening and Underworld 4: New Dawn. Coincidentally Theo James (Divergent's Four) also appears in UnderworldAwakening. Alicia met Theo for the first time on that set.
So lets stop talking about her and start talking to Alicia!  She was pleasant enough to allow us to ZIP over some questions for her to answer. How did Divergent action compare to stunts you have done on Underworld or Ultraviolet?

AVB: Divergent had a very wide range of stunts to be done: falling down/getting beat up, fighting, high falls, wire work, under water work, little fire burn, zip lining, train jumping and working with an animal(dog). As for Underworld it was just mostly fighting, falling/getting beat up, underwater stuff, and a little bit of fire. Is this your first time jumping trains?

AVB: I actually have never been on a train as a passenger before! LOL!!! The only other time I've been on a train was on the TV show Revolution where I doubled Tracy Spiridakos (character name: Charlie). For the TV show I had to run on top of a train jumping from car to car, and then get thrown off the train.

(Alicia with Tracy Spiridakos on the set of Revolution) What was your most challenging day on the Divergent set? Did you get any injuries?

AVB: My most challenging day was when I had to do the underwater stuff. The pool was covered in a black tarp so I wasn't able to come up for air whenever I wanted to. Plus the walls and the floor of the pool were covered in black as well, so it was hard to see and know where you were at. And then there was also some plants and vines under the water which made it harder to swim through. I was also wearing long pants, and chunky boots which made it difficult as well. I was in the pool for about 8 hours, then had to leave that set and head downtown to work on second unit for the zip line through the city. It was a very long and tiring day for me. What scene are you most excited to see on the movie screen?

AVB: I'm probably most excited to see the zip line. How was it working with Neil Burger and the cast?


AVB: Neil and the cast was so much fun to work with! Everyone was super cool and had no egos or anything. Very down to earth, such a pleasurable working environment! :).  I also really enjoyed working with Theo James again.

I found what Alicia said about certain scenes exciting!  Sounds like a real dog was used for Beatrice's aptitude test instead of a CGI dog. Thank goodness cause they always look a little odd.  The under water work with weeds sounds like Tris' fear landscape where she is in the middle of the ocean and almost drowns. This gets me even more excited to see how in-depth they go into the simulations.  

Follow Alicia Vela-Bailey on twitter @AVelaBailey and see all her past and future projects on her IMDb page here.

Views: 7229

Comment by Dauntless Emily on August 1, 2013 at 9:43am

I'm excited to see the stunts. It sounds like they really put a lot of work into them.

Comment by Dauntless_Forever on August 1, 2013 at 10:30am
Me too I can't wait!
Comment by ♣ Alyssa Eaton ♠ on August 1, 2013 at 11:25am

Wow a stunt double, that is so not Dauntless.

Comment by Is Ashour on August 1, 2013 at 12:45pm


Comment by DauntlessCupcakes on August 1, 2013 at 5:29pm

Awakening was hands down a thriller, Theo's eyes are so blue in that one. Like seriously they are lighten up

Comment by Brittany on August 1, 2013 at 6:07pm

This makes me very excited for the simulations and fear landscapes. I hope they are going to be as good as they sound!

Comment by Is Ashour on August 1, 2013 at 8:03pm

I know right!!!

Comment by Brittany M. Mendez on August 1, 2013 at 8:28pm
I'm so happy we have stunt doubles. I don't know how people can do their own stunts. But, I guess if ur a professional u can handle ANYTHING!!! :)
Comment by AmitySoul on August 2, 2013 at 11:55am

So excited to see the stunts!!!!!!!!

Comment by raven tattoo on August 3, 2013 at 4:20pm

The stunts are going to look so realistic! I think that it will look like shailene is actually doing the stunts.


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