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Kathleen Nolan
President Screen Actors Guild
Hollywood does not like troublemakers.  I should know that.  As the first female president of he Screen Actors Guild, I made plenty of trouble for the powers that be.  I championed equal opportunities for women and minority actors; I led a strike for better pay and working conditions for commercial actors, and after Julie Johnson and the two other stuntwomen came to see me, I established and chaired SAG's first Stunt and Safety Committee to help protect the lives and liveihoods of Hollywood stuntmen and women.

As an actor, it has been my pleasure to work with many of the top stunt performers in the business.  Hollywood is a tough place for actors, but it is a tough and dangerous place for stunt performers,  and it is even tougher for stuntwomen, who face the added burden of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in a male-dominated profession.
Stuntwomen are some of the bravest women in America.  They risk their lives every day to make films and television shows more exciting and entertaining.  But Julie Johnson was the bravest of the brave. Julie was not only a pioneering stunt coordinator on "Charlie's Angels" in the days when very few women held that position, but she was also an outspoken advocate for a safe and drug-free workplace for all stunt performers - men and women alike.

For her trouble, she was branded  a troublemaker, blackballed and run out of the business

In the 1970's there was a drug culture in Hollywood, and it was particularly pernicious in the stunt community, and it was becoming a serious problem.  Stuntmen and women were being pushed beyond their limits.  They were being asked to jump higher and farther; to drive faster and faster. to blow it up bigger and bigger.  Unfortunately, some turned to cocaine to give themselves an edge.  But it only provided a false sense of invincibility.  Drug use not only endangering their lives, but also the lives of their coworkers.  Something had to be done about it. Julie had been quietly battling abuse in the stunt community for years now, with the backing of the Stunt and Safety Community, we were able to tackle the problem together.

I had known Julie for years.  She doubled for me a dozen times, and I asked for her whenever a scene I was performing required a stunt double.  She was one of the best in the business.  But even she was subject to gender discrimination, which I witnessed first-hand while filming an episode of "Charlie's Angels," when the producer insisted that a stuntman double for me instead of Julie.

During my term as SAG president, Julie and I worked together frequently on the many issues facing stuntwomen, and when she sued Aaron Spelling for sex discrimination, it was my honor to testify on her behalf.

All these years later, she is still one of the bravest women I have ever known, and there is no doubt that her courage and determination have helped make Hollywood a better and safer place to live and work.  Today's stuntwomen, and future generations to come, owe her a debt of gratitude.

Kathleen Nolan
President Screen Actors Guild

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