A Richmond-born stunt actress is taking on a role in her dream Marvel film after an “unexpectedly casual” message on Instagram.
Maya Macatumpag, a McNair secondary alumna, acts as her own character as well as a member of the stunt team in Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever film, set to hit theatres on Nov. 11.
However, the role came to her through an Instagram message from a fight coordinator she worked with in the past.
“It was so weird that Aaron Toney (the fight coordinator) would casually message me on social media about something so big,” said Macatumpag.
“I had to call him and confirm what the message was about.”
She was invited to play one of the Dora Milaje characters — the Dora Milaje is a group of elite female forces from Wakanda. Macatumpag was also offered the part of stunt double for supporting actress Michaela Cole.
Macatumpag told the Richmond News this role is not only a personal achievement, but one for her culture as well.
The all-female Dora Milaje cast showed the power, confidence and resilience the Black female community has.
“I remember watching the movie … and crying because I saw the first real Black superhero and it was just so amazing,” she said.
“I said that I wanted to be in that movie if they do a second one and it’s crazy how things came in a full circle for me to land a role like this.”
When asked whether she expected to ever land a role in a Marvel film, Macatumpag replied “Expect? No. Dream? Yes.”
“It’s a dream that’s bigger than stunts. It’s bigger than the film industry. It’s a life achievement for me.”
Macatumpag said working on set of Black Panther is about representing her culture and the Black female community in the film industry.
Filming in Atlanta, Ga., she added, allowed her to “fully immerse herself in Black culture” alongside the cast members.
“In this movie, I got to work with a strong, group of amazing, talented, smart Black women every day,” said Macatumpag. “Coming from Canada, that’s not a luxury that I’ve been able to have. Usually I’m the minority.”
Growing up, she was inspired by her mother who was also a stunt performer. However, Black female representation in the film industry was still rare.
“We are in a time where there’s more representation now. People do want to see more of us, hear different narratives from Black women and see different portrayals of Black women.”
The McNair grad’s acting debut was in the second season of Smallville, an action-fiction TV series, when she was eight years old.
Macatumpag acted and performed stunts for shows and films while attending school full time. After graduation, she went on to play basketball for Acadia University and graduated with a political science degree before returning to the film industry as a full-time stunt performer in 2016.
Her career as a stunt performer has includedDeadpool 2, Supernatural, Deadly Class, Altered Carbon, The 100, Supergirl and Star Trek: Discovery.