Marvel fans were hyped to see the grand return of the Dora Milaje warriors of Wakanda in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier during the series' fifth episode. The Direct had the opportunity to speak with Janeshia Adams-Ginyard, who not only plays Dora Milaje member Nomble but has also stunt doubled for other Marvel characters, including Dani Gurira's Okoye in Avengers: Infinity War and Teyonah Parris' Monica Rambeau in WandaVision.
Adams-Ginyard opened up about the differences between playing her own Marvel role versus doubling someone else's, her thoughts on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier so far, and how she feels about being part of so many projects within the franchise that have deeply resonated with people.
The Direct: How did you first get involved with Marvel?
Adams-Ginyard: "I first got involved with Marvel through Black Panther. That was a very exciting process that started off with me having an audition through the acting side with casting, and then from there through the stunt side. I didn't really know I was gonna be a stunt double; I knew that I was auditioning for one of the women warriors - at the time I didn't even know the name, you know, the Dora Milaje - I don't even think anyone was told that at that time, I just knew that they were looking for female warriors.
"So I had an audition here in LA, then I was flown down to Atlanta to also have an audition in front of Ryan [Coogler] and a lot of the Marvel execs. They put us through this course of, like, falling, fights, reaction; we learned bo staff - that's where I was first introduced to bo staff - and through that, you know, it was almost like four to five weeks of waiting, and it was like 'Ohhhh, did they choose me? Did they choose me?' You're waiting for the emails with your name on it. And...success! I really truncated that entire process, but that's how it started, I was very blessed, I was chosen as one of the Dora Milaje and through that was also able to become the Okoye stunt double.
"It was definitely a dream come true. Marvel's been on my vision board - I'm very big into vision boards - so it was definitely a dream come true."
The Direct: You're in a different position from a lot of the other Marvel performers because you've done both acting and stunt work; the former on Black Panther and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - and the latter on Avengers: Infinity War and WandaVision. What is the difference between the two for you, especially considering you've been part of the Dora Milaje in multiple projects but as different characters depending on the show or movie?
Adams-Ginyard: On Panther, when I was just, like, myself playing a Dora Milaje, I [could] do what [was] dominant for me for the most part. If I'm right[-handed] I can go to my right, or my left [in action scenes] based on choreography, obviously we stick with choreography.
"But the key difference, I would say, when I'm a stunt double - when I was doubling for Okoye - is [that] I am a continuation of that actress' moves, right? So I am making sure that I pay attention to what she leads with. Is she right-handed? Is she left-handed? Does she like to step forward with her left [foot] or forward with her right? How does she move, is she more fluid or, like, staccato? You know what I mean?
"So I'm really paying attention because I am the extension of that actress, of the character. So when I'm in that costume, you should see Okoye. [...] If I'm myself, there's more freedom, right? Because I am the person; I've established my movements, I've established how I carry myself, how I move, how I respond."
The Direct: Did you get to work with Danai (Gurira) at all? Was there anything specific that she told you about that you took with you when you were doubling in for her?
Adams-Ginyard: "Oh, for sure. I mean, you work with your actress. [...] You're training with them, you are getting their moves down, like [I was] watching her, saying [things] like, 'Okay, she likes the right side. Okay, she likes this particular strike." [...] So you're definitely involved. I love the word collaboration because that's exactly what it is; there's collaboration there because you want to do what they're doing, because again, you're just the extension of that character."
The Direct: You also were a stunt double on WandaVision for Teyonah Parris. What was that like? Obviously, it was a very different project from Black Panther and Infinity War given the format and setting.
Adams-Ginyard: "WandaVision was super cool, and you're absolutely correct with the whole film [versus] TV thing, because with Black Panther, it being a film, we rehearsed, you know, [for] easily two months [with] training and learning how to do bo staff because our weapons were spears, right? And we don't walk around the world with spears in our hands, right? And so, that was my first introduction to bo staff.
Now fast-forward to TV, I didn't get that dang long (to rehearse)! [...] Teyonah was amazing, super cool, very easy to talk to and converse with, but I would say it was not Wakanda, right? I didn't have a weapon. With Teyonah, I remember there was a scene where she evades something, and she has to, like, roll out of the way, you know. And so again, I am the double, I'm an extension of her, so it's 'Okay, what leg is your dominant leg? Which leg would you roll out of [the way with]? Which leg would be the one that you'd stand up on first?' [...] If she's rolling with her right, I really shouldn't be coming behind her rolling with my left. [...] And when you [do it right[, you make the editors really happy."
The Direct: So, the other Marvel project you've done is The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I know that show's still airing and you probably can't say too much about it, but is there anything about that experience that was particularly enjoyable or interesting that you can share?
Adams-Ginyard: "It's funny, because when you're working on these projects, obviously you're shooting your scenes, and you never know what the finished product's gonna look like until you actually see the finished product. But I have to tell you, as I've been watching, it's felt like a movie. I mean, it's felt like I'm watching a freaking movie! I do not feel TV series [vibes] one bit, and I'm just like 'wow!'
"And I have to say I don't think I felt that way on set, right? Because you're told 'Okay, this is a TV show? Okay, cool, we're gonna shoot a TV show!' I 'shot a TV show,' but I'm watching a movie! That's how I feel at home. [...] Even working in that scene [in the apartment], I screamed when it showed up on film! I'm like, 'WHOA! That's the entrance I made?'"
The Direct: So I take it the experience was like WandaVision in the sense that you were kind of just thrown into it rather than having ample rehearsal time?
Adams-Ginyard: "Absolutely, totally. But I will say, it was great because [I'd already] been a Dora, right? I started as a Dora, that's how my introduction into Marvel began, as a Dora. So the minute I put my costume back on, I'm [a] Dora. I didn't feel like I didn't know how to use my spear, I literally felt like 'I'm back; I'm back at it.' I didn't feel different, you know. I didn't feel less of a warrior; I felt even more fierce, I wanna say, versus, you know, in WandaVision doubling Teyonah [with] no weapon, [not being] a fierce warrior, I'm this agent.
"So [on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier] I didn't feel like I lost anything, [I was] like 'Alright, back at it, I've got my sword, I've got my weapon, I'm here, let's do it.' [...] It's almost second-nature now. [...] When you work on a project like Black Panther and you've actually been blessed to have a weapon to use and you've gotten training [for], you are not gonna lose that.
"And it didn't even stop at Black Panther. You know, when we were shooting Black Panther, I had no idea Infinity War was gonna come from that. That was a total shock and surprise that I was notified with via email while we were shooting the casino scene. It was like 'Hey, just letting you know the Dora's are going to Avengers.' [I was] like 'Whoa, whoa, whoa! I signed up for this? Like, wow! Okay!' And shooting Avengers: Infinity War I had no idea what I was shooting."
The Direct: Did you guys get any script at all or did you just get told 'You're going here, you're going there, this is what you're doing'?
Adams-Ginyard: "I got zero script. Zero. I didn't see a single script on set. Nothing."
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The Direct: Did Marvel give you any context or was it just like 'Here's what you're fighting, go fight'?
Adams-Ginyard: "Oh yeah, when you're there they give you explanations of 'So hey, this is what's going on' so you do get a little bit of knowledge of what's taking place, like 'Hey, you're gonna be fighting over here in this ditch. It's you and Wanda going against Proxima' or whatever."
The Direct: You have been part of the Marvel projects with perhaps the biggest real-world parallels and most powerful messages. I know you don't get to see the scripts, but what has it been like for you to see the full context of the scenes you're in and how much some of them have resonated with people in such meaningful ways?
Adams-Ginyard: "I just think that what we watch should be a reflection of what's going on, and I think that the writers are doing a great job with making those parallels, honestly. And they're doing it with such tact and professionalism, if that makes sense, you know, because you can talk about something, but it can be done in a very distasteful manner and way, but I think with Marvel they've got it down [in terms of] being tactful and respectful when it comes to taking on the issues of the world and paralleling it with what's happening in their series, and their films, and their commercials, and their trailers. So yeah, I think they're doing a good job with that."
The Direct: To finish off, have there been any other moments from your time at Marvel that have stood out to you that we haven't talked about yet?
Adams-Ginyard: "There's [been] so many good times on these different Marvel sets; the people have been amazing. I have to say, just working with Anthony Mackie though, amazing. I mean, he's hilarious. The first time I met him [...] was [while we were crossing paths at a train station] and the actress that I [had just doubled for on a project], they were friends. And so that was my first time actually meeting him and that was [even] before Panther. Fast-forward and then I see him on Infinity War, and then actually like working with him - I mean, talk about how things align!"
"You just never know where you might end up. Just randomly meeting this guy who I'd watched on TV [...] and then fast-forward and [I was] just like 'Wow, I'm working with [him].' This is amazing, this is a dream come true; I couldn't have [written] it out, you know?"
The Direct: And then you were fighting in a quite up-close and personal way with him in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier!
Adams-Ginyard: (laughs) "Wow. I couldn't have made it up. If you would've asked me that seven years ago, I'd be like, 'What the hell [are] you talking about?'"
The Direct: Thank you so much for joining us today, this was really fun!
Adams-Ginyard: "Wakanda forever!"
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
For more from The Direct's exclusive interview with Adams-Ginyard, check out her thoughts on starring in a Dora Milaje-centered Disney+ series!