Concord Alumni Spotlight

“It was the kid in me wanting to be the superhero, then realizing the people doing the superhero action were the stunt doubles, not the actors.”


Georgia Weeks, Staff Writer

Ever been to the movie theater and dreamed of being on one of those larger-than-life screens? Or hoped that one day your name would be up there when the credits rolled? Well, so did Concord graduate, Derek Johnson. Working in one of the most thrilling and rewarding, yet difficult industries out there, Derek lets us in on his life as a stuntman living in LA.

When he first moved to LA, he didn’t start out as a stuntman, but as a background actor. In one film he was working on as a background actor, he was playing a S.W.A.T. team member. He noticed the stuntmen were doing the same thing as him, yet getting paid way more. “You’re telling me I can get paid 10x more to shoot guns, hang around celebrities, eat a free lunch, and receive residuals the rest of my life? I was hooked,” he states.  Since then he has worked on projects like Transformers: The Last Night and The Amazing Spider-Man 2Transformers has been his favorite project that he has worked on so far. It was a unique opportunity for him to do a variety of stunts on a much larger scale, from big-time ratchet pulls to air ram launches. A great perk of this type of work is getting to enjoy the job. He says his favorite quote is “find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Not to mention award shows, wrap parties, and working with legends.

Although living in an amazing city like Los Angeles can be exciting, coming back home is always refreshing. Derek says what he loved most about going to school at Concord was the close-knit community, friendships, and sports. “Being part of such a tight-knit community allowed me to form some of the strongest bonds and relationships I have ever had.” He still has many of the friendships he had back in high school. 

Being a stuntman is not for everyone: it takes physical fitness, strength, and coordination. The athleticism he developed from being a multi-sport athlete here at Concord, playing football, basketball, and baseball all throughout high school, he believes is pretty much the basis of his career. The ability to take direction and constructive criticism and apply it to stunts is extremely important in his field of work. “Having a director redirect your action to perform on set is not unlike Coach Lehman drawing up a play to have you go execute it on the court.” Many of the attributes that he uses in his career he feels were definitely first curated here at Concord.

Currently, Derek is working on projects such as The Walking Dead, Tales of The Walking Dead, and Snowfall. Hopping from job to job is the epitome of what it’s like to be a working actor or stuntman in this industry. “It’s one of the best and worst things about the job, you never know what you will work on next.” With that being said, Derek will leave us with some advice for anyone that wants to work in this crazy industry. “Don’t ever take no for an answer. At least not a final one. There’s always another way, another route, another option. Take ‘can’t’ out of your vocabulary. Don’t say it, don’t hear it, don’t pay any attention to it. The word does not exist. Never stop trying to be what you want. That goes for any industry really. Network, network, network. It’s huge! You have to be engaged in your industry and with anyone involved because you never know where the next job will come from. Stay motivated, stay hungry and work your butt off!”

Here is Derek’s IMBD if you wanna see some more of his work!