You probably don’t recognize the name Lee Chesley, but if you’ve seen Marvel’s most recent record-breaking blockbuster, you’ve absolutely seen her work. She’s the stunt double for Awkwafina in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings—and that’s not the only impressive entry on her resume. io9 got a chance to speak with Chesley about her super cool career so far.
Breakdancing is involved (with some footage to prove her bona fides!), as is an understandable amount of Michelle Yeoh hero-worship, who Chesley got to share the set with on Shang-Chi. Her other stunt performer credits include Jumanji: The Next Level (her first time working with Awkwafina), DC’s Birds of Prey, and the upcoming Avatar 2 and Avatar 3. Check out the interview in the video above, conducted by Aiko Tanaka for io9.
“I got into being a stuntwoman at a gym that I trained at. Some people that saw me training were like, ‘Oh, do you do stunts? You should get into it! You look like you could do it!’—because I would just throw stuff and chuck stuff and land, and they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re good at hitting the ground!’” Chesley recalls. Of her idol, Chelsey says, “Michelle Yeoh was such a big influence and inspiration [for] me because there were very few women already that did action, that looked badass, that weren’t, like, just a pretty face. And on top of that, Asian women,” she says, adding “the awkward part of me came out” when she met Yeoh on the set of Shang-Chi. Even though Chesley worked on the Marvel Studios film herself, she admits, “I still fan over it... hardcore,” noting that she’s a big anime and comic book nerd.
The process of making Jumanji is when she really realized she’d found her perfect niche. “I think it was during that movie and then working on fights with people that I felt this is what I really like to do. I’ve always been into martial arts films, I’ve always been into movement, it really felt like everything that I had done up to this point had facilitated making this job work for me.”
If you’d like to see more of Chesley’s work, you can check out her Instagram. And keep an eye on io9 for more fun behind-the-scenes stunt performer profiles.
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