People are quick to assume that Ky Furneaux’s success comes from the fact that she is a strong woman in a physical industry, but Ky outright REJECTS this attitude. She believes that achieving success (regardless of the industry) takes more internal strength, determination and self-belief than any physical factor.
It was this type of attitude (plus the exciting Hollywood stories) that drew us to Ky and we knew we wanted her on board as one of our Extraordinary Women straight away. Never have we met a more approachable, animated and kind character and we simply can’t wait for her to share her insights and skills from her male-dominated career path thus far.
What are three words to describe you?
b. Fearless and,
c. Willing to take a chance and to make mistakes.
What are three accomplishments (or traits) that you are most proud of?
1. I am most proud of winning the Taurus Stunt Award (the Oscars of the stunt industry) for Best Female Stunt Performer.
2. I am also proud of being able to see the best in every situation. It’s an important trait to have because even when life truly sucks – there are still fun times to be had.
3. Lastly, I am very proud of my ability to push through perceived limitations, both self-imposed or those that others try to impose on you.
Can you tell me a bit more about the time of your accident; was that your first major challenge as a young woman?
How did you get past it?
My Mum was very good in that she didn’t let me feel sorry for myself, she didn’t let me waste any time feeling miserable in the situation that I was in. She was great with mental stuff too and found me hobbies that didn’t require movement, things that kept my brain active. I also wasn’t allowed a TV in my room [laughs] she made sure I had control over things to do and not just passive activities like watching TV.
I am very bad at being inactive as being active 100% defines who I am. So being inactive during this time required me to go back to brain challenges and realising that there are things you can change and things you can’t. I needed to learn early on that you should always fight for those things you can change, and be at peace with those you can’t.
What advice would you give to girls when striving to reach their goals?
Firstly, breakdown your big dreams into small achievable steps. It’s like the mountain analogy – if you look at the summit it seems impossible, but if you just look at the step in front of you, it’s easy and you will get there.
Secondly, once you know the goal – do something every day to reach it. It can be as simple as a phone call or an email or even a run just to clear your head. But always do one thing!
Thirdly, surround yourself with positive people, even if it’s only 1 or 2. It can be lonely going for your dreams and sometimes you can find yourself full of self-doubt. For the days where you don’t believe in yourself, surround yourself with people who will.
Lastly, don’t let others define you. We are so busy trying to be like others, but what is going to make us spectacular is being different. What makes you different makes you special. Listen to yourself rather than what anyone else tells you.
We wanted to get a little bit deeper now so regarding your stunt-woman career, have you ever experienced sexual bias or negative attitudes because you were in a male-dominated industry?
I had a soft intro into a male-dominated industry in that I started out as an outdoor guide in Australia where there were only two or three females. So when I moved to Hollywood I already had a lot of tactics up my sleeve, but I still had a lot of bias to push through.
I definitely noticed that [as a stunt woman] there was an assumption that if you don’t look ‘butch’ or ‘manly’ you can’t do the job. It’s a physical job, so you are obviously judged on appearance, but the attitude and assumption that as a girl you’re going to break and cry easier is simply not true – even if you don’t look ‘manly’ and ‘strong’. So I have always had to prove that wrong. In fact, in my experience, women in the stunt world are actually tougher. I know women with several broken bones who wouldn’t even whimper. At one point I even shattered my shoulder and didn’t tell anyone. I kept working. Unfortunately that experience ended up being a double-edged sword in that when someone [from work] found out I hurt myself they had the attitude that, ‘she clearly didn’t do the stunt correctly and that’s why she is injured’. So yes, I have come across some sexual bias unfortunately, but it’s important to not let it define you.
It’s like that Fred Estair and Ginger Rogers quote: “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels.” It’s the same in the industry, women do everything in less clothing, higher heels, less safety pads, and then on top of all that we are required to be twice as strong mentally and physically in order to prove bias attitudes wrong.
Wow we can’t wait to hear more about that! One more little snippet of ‘Who is Ky’ before we go… what motto or advice do you live by?
It is a Chinese curse, which seems hilarious to me (that it is considered a curse) but it’s: May you live in an interesting time.
Hooked yet? We are!
If you want to hear more from Ky about the skills it requires to deal with the unexpected, push through setbacks such as her major injury, or handle situations where she’s experienced inequality and bias, come along to her Feed The Beast Talk on November 14th at the Brisbane Powerhouse, you’ll even get to ask her your very own questions and nab a photo with the all-star!
Want even more? Secure your spot at one of Ky’s workshops here.
Submit your own question for Ky via [email protected]
Get inspired and follow this Extraordinary Woman @kyfurneaux