The Black Stuntmen’s Association was formed in the late ’60’s as a rebuttal to the racial discrimination faced by stuntmen and stuntwomen of color during the time. Sitting president of the BSA Willie Harris and the surviving members of the Association have been recognized for their pioneering efforts in the stunt work industry.
Bill Cosby helped spearhead the prominence of Black stuntmen during his time on the hit series I Spy after refusing to allow a white stuntman “painted down” to appear Black as his stunt double. Shortly after, Harris and fellow founding members, the late Edward Smith, Alex Brown, and Henry Kingi formed the BSA in 1967.
The BSA’s mission most certainly paved the way for Black stuntmen and stuntwomen to enter the lucrative world of stunt work. Harris recalled in several interviews that despite Hollywood’s liberal reputation, barriers still existed. Harris and his compatriots persisted, and eventually found their footing in the industry.
When the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened last year, BSA’s mementos from several decades were on display. Further, Harris and the remaining BSA members have been rallying for the Academy Awards to recognize stunt work as an award category.
In 2012, the BSA won an NAACP Image Award and have been recognized in California, Mississippi, and Nevada by state lawmakers for their contribution to the arts. Earlier this month, Harris was honored at the 14th annual College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame at the University of Las Vegas.