Maja Aro is as badass as she is beautiful. This talented stunt performer guests in Supernatural’s season 11 premiere “Out of the Darkness, into the Fire.” Born Maja Kristiane Stace-Smith, she and her husband Jeffery actually changed their last names to “Aro” after getting engaged on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Originally from Williams Lake, British Columbia, She keeps herself in shape and stays true to the characters she plays. Recently nominated for best stunt for this year’s UBCP awards, Aro is having a good year.
Q. Supernatural fans will get to see your fabulous stunt work with your role as a rabid nurse in Supernatural’s season 11 premiere “Out of the Darkness, into the Fire.” What can you share about the experience?
A. “The character that I played was actually a stunt actor part, so I did do all my own stunts for the character in that episode. I think fans are going to like this episode. I’ve done stunt work on many other episodes throughout the series as well. I was Katie Cassidy’s stunt double when she was on the show, and I have also doubled some guest stars over the years. I actually just got nominated for best stunt at the 2015 UBCP awards for a stunt I did in season 10 doubling Pippa Mackie (Colette) in the season 10 episode ‘Ask Jeeves’.”
Q. What was the mood on the set after the hiatus? Any pranks or shenanigans this early in the season?
A. “No pranks while I was there, but everyone was in a great mood.”
Q. You’ve had acting roles in many shows. What is acting like for you? Is it fun? Does it put you out of your comfort zone at all?
A. “I have had some acting parts; a lot of them have been playing creatures which are a lot of fun for me. Both acting and stunts involve developing character and staying true to that as well as giving a strong performance. It’s different with stunts where the “dialogue” is physical, but performing physically and vocally both hopefully tell an interesting story if we’ve done our jobs well. I do find acting fascinating as it stretches different muscles for me. I’ve also just taken the leap into directing, which totally pushes me into a new area that I would say is on the edge of my comfort zone. I co-directed two short films this past summer with my partner Sara Irvine-Erickson.”
Q. Please tell us the story of how you and your husband Jeffery met, and why you changed your last name to Aro in honor of Mount Kilimanjaro, where you were engaged.
A. “I met my husband on the set of a TV movie. I was stunt acting on the film, playing Medusa, and he came out to do some stunt rigging. At first he wouldn’t talk to me, but then I had a little fight and got choke slammed on a stone floor in a backless dress, and he decided I might be interesting. I then had to ask him out on a date, where he tried to be a gentleman and piggy-back me as it started snowing and I was wearing heels. He ended up slipping and doing a big home-alone fall landing on me. We still laugh about it, as it was the moment we both realized that we were totally meant for each other. We did a trip to build houses for a group of Aids infected war survivors in Attiak, Uganda in 2010. While we were there we visited Tanzania to climb Mt Kilimanjaro as well, Jeff knows that I love mountains, and appropriately planned proposing on the summit. When we were deciding all of our wedding details, it just sort of came up, and we decided to take the last three letters of Kilimanjaro as our last name. It also means powerful and complete which we thought was pretty perfect.”
Q. What is the life of a woman stunt performer like? How do you stay in shape? How do you heal from injuries?
A. “Being a woman stunt performer has challenges just like any job. I do have to stay in good physical shape to be able to do my job. It’s a fine balance; I need as much muscle tone and strength as possible to be able to perform the stunts, but have to stay lean to match the body types of the actresses that I double. We also usually wear a lot less padding than the guys, so having some muscle to absorb the hits is important. We built a training facility in our house, so for the past few years I’ve done the majority of my training at home. We have a parkour set up, a sprung floor, a trampoline, wirework and highfall set up. I also do a lot of horseback riding, mountain biking and dirtbiking out back. I get regular massages and chiro work to keep my body aligned and offset injuries. I find yoga helps heal a lot, and Tamanu nut oil is amazing for healing scars.”
Q. It’s almost playoff time for baseball. If you were a baseball player, what would your walk up song be?
A. “Eeek, I’m so bad, I don’t watch baseball, but if I was strutting into a UFC fight, I would totally play “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey…I walked down the aisle to that song at my wedding!”