“The Hollywood Switch” refers to that moment of an action sequence in a movie or TV show where the actor starts a movement, then a body double steps in to complete the action — whether its a fight with the bad guy or parachuting from a plane above water — and then the actor steps back in as if they were the one to do the stunt. It’s a complex dance between actors and stunt performers, and if it goes well, the viewers will never notice it happened.
Erin Clyne, owner of Hoboken’s Wellness Lab, is very familiar with the “Hollywood Switch,” as she has been performing stunts professionally on sets for the last eight years. You may have seen her in some of your favorite TV shows and movies without even realizing it was a fellow Hoboken neighbor. Her credits include Fox’s Gotham, FBI, Billions, Jessica Jones, Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, and more. Read on to learn all about Erin’s journey from dancer to business owner and stuntwoman, and all-around boss babe.
Dancing Through Life
Erin grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, and started dancing by the age of two. At seven years old, she took up gymnastics and was competing nationally on track for the Junior Olympics until a knee injury put her back on the sidelines at age 11. While gymnastics was no longer an option for her, she continued dancing and even auditioned for an arts high school, where she really honed in on her love for dance. A surprising twist, however, is that she ended up going to college to study chemistry and was interested in forensics. Eventually deciding she did not want to spend her life in a lab, she switched her major to psychology and graduated with that degree from George Mason University at the top of her class.
While she was looking for a job post-grad, a mentor of hers passed away at a young age and she was inspired to take life by the reins and follow her passion. This resulted in her moving to Chicago to dance in several different dance companies, doing the “whole starving artist thing,” she says. When the 2008 recession hit, dancing was no longer paying the bills. She used to love giving her friends massages for fun, so she decided to get her massage license and open up her own business, while still continuing to dance in her free time.
Let’s Get Physical
In the meantime, her boyfriend at the time was an actor and producing his own short film. He hired a stunt coordinator for part of the film, and Erin was able to see his work. She found the whole thing fascinating and asked the stunt coordinator how someone might get started in that field. Erin loves to get her body moving and be physical, so seeing stunts be performed seemed like a great way to use her dance skills while doing something entirely different.
Once she began training to learn stunts, she was recruited into an invite-only stunt team. She also started training with a regional team, Midwest Stunts. She realized that leaving Chicago would help take this new career path to the next level, so she decided to move to New York.
Within her first year of practicing stunts in New York, she performed one of her biggest stunts to date — a full body burn as the character Firefly in Gotham. This stunt is incredibly complicated and involves permits, a trained team, and a lot of bravery. Erin was lucky enough to get fire training during her time in Chicago, and she looked enough like the actress playing Firefly in the show, so she was lucky to land the part and make NYC stunt history, completing one of the largest burns done in New York.
A Good Reputation
According to Erin, stunts are “based on relationships and trust. It’s all about word of mouth. If someone trusts you, their network will begin to hire you.” With these stunts, safety is the number one priority for everyone on set, so it is important to be known as someone who listens, acts carefully, and is aware of themselves while in action. As a dancer, Erin was told she would need to “untrain” herself, and be less graceful than what she is used to. “You have to make it sloppy,” she explains, while still being aware of every movement of your limbs. Stunt performers are simultaneously making their calculated actions look spontaneous, making impromptu choices as their surroundings continuously change, while trusting their partner to not accidentally throw them into a camera or light stand.
As a female in this field, there can be a lot of challenges that come up. Erin understands the importance of speaking up for herself, asking for what she needs, and making decisions that are best for her and her safety.
Preparing for a stunt can feel a lot like preparing to go on stage. Erin feels the nerves and excitement, but does not let her emotions get in the way of her focus. Stunts can never be taken lightly. Erin explains that if a stunt performer goes in unfocused, that is when people can end up getting hurt. Letting your guard down is not an option.
Erin’s business in Hoboken is called Wellness Lab, and has been open since 2017. The business is for holistic wellness practitioners to come together, have a space to practice, and build up their own businesses to eventually open their own brick-and-mortar if they so choose. Erin recently completed her master’s in Health and Human Performance, and is going to vamp up her wellness coaching practice. She enjoys practicing holistic wellness that is backed by science.
Whether it’s owning a business or performing stunts while engulfed in flames, Erin encourages others to follow their passions and see where it may lead. “When you find that purpose, people see it and will help you accomplish what you’re meant to accomplish.”