Gemita Samarra is one of the UK’s most rapidly upcoming talents. Growing up in a world of sport, it was a chance encounter that offered Gemita the first experience of being in front of the camera. From there, an unexpected career path grew incorporating her active lifestyle, and now with a foot in the door of modelling, acting and stunts to name just a few, Gemita is becoming one of the most versatile personalities appearing across all media platforms. And thus, I introduce, the Gemita Samarra interview. 

So you’re currently 21-years-old, living in Bristol. Where did modelling begin for you?
Bristol, and also living out of my car and bags! Always on the go. I started with the modelling 6 years ago now.

What was the first modelling job you received?
Being the little tomboy I was, I left my look very natural – big dark bushy eyebrows and long blonde untouched hair. A local photographer in Clifton, Bristol that thought I had a really interesting look wanted to shoot me for his book and I thought I’d give it a go. I’d never considered modelling but I felt comfortable in front of the camera, and after receiving those shots my first proper paid job was not long after when a local hair salon decided to also take advantage of my long untouched hair and use me for their website and salon windows! I never really considered modelling to be a proper job at first… but it turns out there is a lot of work to be done and a lot of money to be made!

Had you ever anticipated making a career out of modelling? You spent a lot of your childhood horse riding – had it ever been something to cross your mind before you were scouted?
No, i always thought people did it as hobbies! It was never something that interested me and something I thought I would never get into as I assumed my sense of fashion was shocking! I always thought I would be too boy-ish for it, constantly being bruised and broken from all the extreme sports my brother and I would be doing.

What extreme sports did you used to do?
Literally as much as we were physically able to do. My childhood was never “don’t do that, it’s too dangerous” – we soon figured out what hurt and how to not get hurt! My brother was (and still is) an avid climber and I always wanted to compete with him in everything! Regardless of him being 3 years older and stronger… It’s in the Samarra blood to be hideously competitive! But it was super varied.. climbing, kayaking, mountaineering, horse riding, free diving, pentathlon, synchronised swimming, driving and of course spending as much time as possible in the water. I am absolutely obsessed with being in the water. Free diving in the ocean is hands down my favourite place to be.

Which I guess is how you ended up working as, among many other things, an underwater model?
My love for underwater started very early on. I was a very strong swimmer and couldn’t get enough of it. I also did a lot of dance when I was a child, so I then looked into starting Synchronised swimming as water + dance = synchro! I took to it immediately and it wasn’t long before I was competing with my team (in Bristol) and winning nationals and big qualifiers. The first underwater work initially came about when I was with my previous sport modelling agency in 2009 and the day I signed with them, they had got a brief through for a synchronised swimmer to work on sky livings TV series Bedlam. I was stoked! I didn’t imagine back then that yet another career could be forged from something I loved. So I filmed on that show for a while up in Manchester and got on really well with the whole crew especially the underwater camera man- Mark Silk and stunt co-ordinators who were the first people to put the idea of becoming a stunt woman in my head as a realistic career and not just as a hobby! From working with Mark, he put me forward for a project called ‘The Siren’ by Laura Jean Healy which was another dream come true.

What did ‘The Siren’ involve?
Filmed entirely underwater in slow motion and projected as a life size 3D hologram, the film makes the impossible – a women living and breathing underwater – become a reality. Beautiful and haunting, the Siren exists as pure ephemeral light and constructs her own reality, which playing to her supposed nothingness forces the audience to acknowledge her presence, power and autonomy.

Was it a natural progression from modelling to then begin picking up work as an actress?
The acting came about equally from modelling as it did from stunts. The modelling entrance to acting was more through modelling on film and then getting into commercials and TV ads, which then led to music videos which then led on to short films and feature films! The stunt entrance first came about from The Siren, although performing without the use of words this then led onto my first feature film ‘Pressure’, playing opposite a young great actor – Joe Cole, who was my husband in the film. But many roles I receive for short films are of an equal balance of stunts and acting, which is my goal with the acting career… I really want to hone in on the ultimate ‘Action Girl’ role!

You’ve scored work in films such as ‘Rush’ and ‘Fast and Furious 6′. How did you begin to secure work in such huge scale productions?
I make a rule of getting on with everyone I meet and just keeping my head down, working hard and putting my all into everything and luckily I have met some amazing people on set. Most of my work is through word of mouth and recommendations and when I was going through quiet phases previously, I would email stunt co-ordinators for instance and ask if I could do observational work and shadow, just so I am always learning. In time this led to more and more work! I have to give massive credibility to Mark Silk from Bedlam as since that job many years ago, he has kept me very busy and recommended me for many jobs like the role of Lisa in the feature film Pressure. Mark spoke to the Director – Ron Scalpello about me and set up a meeting for me to speak to him, and it all kicked off from there really!

“I make a rule of getting on with everyone I meet and just keeping my head down, working hard and putting my all into everything”

So how did all of the above lead to your involvement in stunt work?
Well one thing led to another really. In terms of training I had a lot of it covered with sports I had done since leaving the womb! But as soon as I worked on my first proper filming job – Bedlam, again one thing led to another.

What does the training for stunt work involve? and what sort of work have you received so far?
Training involves a complete variety. There is a ‘Stunt Register’ in the UK with 6 of the following: climbing, gymnastics, rock climbing, trampolining, high diving, horse riding, car/motor bike, swimming and scuba diving. Alongside this, you must also be able to do martial arts. Then there is a miscellaneous category if you are particularly good at some thing other than those. On the whole, people come into stunts with a strong background in one of the harder qualifications like martial arts or gymnastics, and then learn the rest on the way but some, like me come into it from everything else like the horses, swimming, driving and such.

Do you have any words to people aspiring to follow in your footsteps and achieve a similar career path?
For anyone looking to get into stunts I cant exaggerate enough that it is a tough business, but I honestly wouldn’t want to be training for anything else! All I would say is as long as you are enjoying what you are doing, then you are winning, and to always be the hardest worker in the room. Stunts isn’t about being stupid and crazy, at all! It’s about having skill, control, confidence and to know your own body and limits.

Finally, where can we see Gemita Samarra in the next coming year?
As for where you can see me, I have a lot of exciting projects I am working on at the moment, that I can’t say too much about! But next year you will see me in a film called ‘Pressure’ working opposite young actor – Joe Cole, alongside Danny huston, Matthew Goode and Alan Mckenna. Then I am lead stunt double in a film called Transhuman which is one I am working on at the moment. Also coming out soon is ‘The secret service’ with Colin Firth, Michael Caine and Samuel L Jackson to name a few. But next year is looking like a very exciting one, already so we’ll see where it ends up!