Flipping the Script

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You’re probably not familiar with the name Laurie Singer; but you certainly know her work (and that’s just fine by her!).

For the past seven years the stuntwoman has vaulted, fallen, kicked, catapulted and fought in dozens of movies (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Mockingjay – Part 1, Spiderman 2) and TV shows (Gotham, Royal Pains, Blue Bloods, The Good Wife). Using various tricks of the trade, Singer’s true identity is invisible to the human eye as she stunt doubles for many of today’s most well- known actors.

But the silver screen is the only place Singer wants to be incognito. Off screen, she’s quite open about who she is, and how her faith plays a major part in her “true identity.” Her passion for Christ mirrors her chosen profession in terms of energy, enthusiasm and resilience. She readily credits Young Life for coming along at just the right time in her life — when she’d never been more ready to hear about God’s love.

Tumbling

Growing up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Singer enjoyed a happy childhood surrounded by a loving family, strong friendships and her success in gymnastics. These innocent times would not last, however. Her world turned upside down when, as a 15-year-old, she attended a party where she was sexually assaulted. Singer was devastated.

“I was so sad and depressed. I didn’t want to talk to anybody about it,” she said. “There was just no hope.”

Singer withdrew into herself and shut out others; at her lowest point, she experimented with cutting and an attempted overdose. “I couldn’t really understand why I did it. I hated myself so much.”

Singer’s mom sought professional help for her daughter and she was prescribed medications for depression and ADHD. “I started becoming more even, but the drugs didn’t give me joy in my life again. I was living, but I didn’t feel like I used to.”

Release

Adrift and hopeless, Singer continued to muddle through her high school years. One day during the spring of her junior year at Chapel Hill High School, however, Singer was handed a lifeline from a stranger. For on that day she met Tracy Mansfield, a junior at the University of North Carolina, and a Young Life leader.

“Tracy came up with this huge smile on her face and I thought, ‘Wow she’s so happy! That girl has got something special and whatever it is, I want it.’ I’d never seen a joy like that. When she invited me to Young Life, I thought, ‘Yeah, I want to go wherever you go!’”

Mansfield, for her part, had no idea the impression she’d made. “We always prayed before we went into the high school, ‘God, please just show us who you want us to meet today.’ We were having club that night and handed out maps to where we’d be meeting. God had totally orchestrated this for Laurie. It had nothing to do with me.”

Not surprisingly, Singer showed up to club and was blown away.

“There was no judgment, just ‘come as you are and we’re going to love you,’” she said. “No matter what you’ve done or what’s been done to you, everybody’s welcome. As I continued to go to club, I noticed the other kids weren’t there to be popular or something else you may want to be in high school. They were there to find out about Christ. That was something I hadn’t seen in the high school culture. This was different because these kids were sincere. I wanted to be around this amazing group of people.”

Mansfield loved befriending Singer. “I remember being drawn to this girl. Laurie was so easy to be around; she fit naturally because she was so fun, but could be serious and real, too. She was mature beyond her years.”

Soon Singer started attending Campaigners. “We were going through the book Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado, and that book was so tangible for the girls,” Mansfield remembered. “Laurie kept listening and taking things in.”

In a matter of weeks, Singer began a relationship with Jesus. “When I found out who Jesus is, I started to feel joy in my heart again. He loved me despite the darkness that had happened in my life. I said, ‘Yes, Lord, come into my life. I’m ready. Bring it on!’ After I made that decision, it felt like the depression went away.”

The decision to follow Jesus only made her hunger and thirst for Him all the more real, Mansfield said.

“I definitely saw a vulnerability in Laurie and a desire to know, ‘Who is this Jesus? What does He have to do with my life?’ She really went after Him and asked good questions. Laurie wasn’t afraid to say, ‘I don’t understand that. Can you explain it to me?’” Singer also grew during her week at Young Life camp. “I loved Windy Gap! I remember going outside, sitting by myself and praying during that one-on-one time with Jesus. It was so beautiful, connecting with God in the peace of His mountains.”

Springboard

Singer matured in her relationship with Jesus and after high school, she left for North Carolina State, where her gymnastic abilities continued to shine. She graduated in 2008 and God was soon opening doors to the next part of her journey.

“One day I sensed God whispering in my ear, ‘Move up to New York City.’

“I didn’t know why. I didn’t have a job lined up. I was like, ‘Really? Am I hearing you right? Are you sure, God?’

“He said, ‘Trust me.’

“‘OK, God, I’m going!’”

She showed up in the Big Apple with two suitcases and a friend’s floor to sleep on. “The day I arrived I auditioned for a dancing part and I got it!”

The opportunities continued to roll in. She found work in fitness and figure competitions; modeling; starring as the lone female acrobatic dunker for the Knicks’ halftime show at Madison Square Garden; and even a stint portraying one of the Power Rangers at different events.

“By word of mouth I kept getting referrals for more and more jobs. I’m walking by faith in this big city filled with people; I told the Lord, ‘I’ll just walk through open doors and praise you in the process.’ Within a year I’m a full-time stunt performer. That’s God!”

Cartwheels

Since 2010, Singer has lived in the “stunt world.” It’s a calling that requires spending time on both coasts, shuffling between home and Hollywood. She’s learned a lot about navigating that world without compromising her beliefs.

“You don’t usually meet people in this business willing to be bold about their faith,” she said. “Many Christians in Hollywood feel like they can’t talk about their faith because it could easily lead to unemployment.”

So imagine her surprise when she heard about Will Harper, a follower of Christ who also happens to be a highly sought-after stuntman. Learning about their mutual love for Jesus, the two soon began dating in 2014 and were married two years later.

Balance

Today Laurie Singer looks back fondly on her foundational years in Young Life and continues her friendship with Tracy Mansfield.

“Young Life was such a special place to belong and Tracy really set an example of what it looked like to follow Christ. She loved me so much and I didn’t even know her. It’s so amazing to see what He was doing through her with me and the other kids.”

Mansfield shares the amazement of God’s work in her friend. “I’m amazed at the way Young Life sets up people to share their faith; I feel so honored to be part of Laurie’s story. I’m so thankful for how the Lord orchestrates things — working in Laurie’s life before I met her and preparing her for what she’d hear in club, Campaigners and at camp. God uses Young Life leaders to do that.

“Knowing it’s in the Lord’s hands, we shouldn’t grow weary. He’s the one who opens ears and eyes to His truth. I’m so thankful He’s done it in such a powerful way with Laurie.”