Yesterday, the world learned the sad news of a stunt woman's death on the set of Deadpool 2 in Vancouver, Canada. While the identity of the woman had not yet been revealed when the news first broke, we've now learned the name of stunt performer was Joi 'SJ' Harris.
#Deadpool2 was Harris' first film. She had been hired to be in the movie just last week, after producers spent countless hours looking for an African-American female road racer that could ride motorcycles at high speed. Her manager, Porsche Taylor, told Variety that she was ecstatic about being in the film:
"This was an opportunity of a lifetime for her. She was over the moon.”
The late stunt woman dubbed herself the first African-American road racer in U.S. history. In a Q&A on her blog, Harris revealed that she received her racing license just four years ago in 2013, and in 2014 she began racing with the American Sportbike Racing Association/Championship Cup Series. In the same post, she acknowledges the dangers of crashing. When asked if she was scared to crash, she replied:
Not quite scared, but it crosses my mind at times, but a racer can't let it stop us... there is always something to learn when on track and pushing limits. Face your fears you never know what you can missing out on.
Harris' website also features videos of her dexterity and expertise as a motorcycle rider. Despite having crashed prior to the incident that claimed her life, Harris had skill when handling the dangers of maneuvering the vehicle around tight corners, and the videos prominently showcase her determination to keep riding.
It's clear that Harris possessed professional technique as a racer and a stunt woman. Harris first stint in the film industry had her working as Zazie Beetz's stunt-double. Unfortunately, Harris was not wearing a helmet on set on Deadpool 2 as her character (Domino) doesn't wear one in the scene. Bystanders told Metro News that Harris was close to hitting two pedestrians before the fatal crash. Deadline reported that witnesses saw Harris lose control of her bike, which crashed through a plate-glass window at Shaw Tower near Jack Poole Plaza.
Deadline also reported that the crew spoke of the enduring hours on the set of Deadpool. Source told the outlet, "people are exhausted by the schedule," which apparently includes weekends and some 16-hour days. Harris had practiced her stunt numerous times over the weekend and at least five times Monday morning before filming began.
Multiple celebrities have expressed their condolences, including Deadpool star, Ryan Reynolds, who is "devastated by this death." Director David Leitch expressed his sadness by saying "No words can express how I and the rest of the Deadpool 2 crew feel about this tragedy."
Our thoughts and prayers go out to SJ's family and friends.