SUU to Everywhere

Michaela Chernoch McAllister (’14)

Michaela Chernoch McAllister (’14)
SUU to Hollywood Stunt Performer

Originally published on January 20, 2021.

When Michaela Chernoch Mcallister was making a name for herself as an all-conference gymnast for the Flippin’ Birds, she was also preparing to teach elementary school and, though she has utilized her SUU degree for that purpose, she is now engaged in an entirely different vocation: Hollywood stunt performer.

She has fought on screen with Will Smith in Bright, been hit with a frying pan by Billy Bob Thornton in Goliath, doubled for Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in Black Widow and, in her words, was “wrecked by Brad Pitt and set on fire by Leonardo DiCaprio” in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, among other performances in her new career. Included in the talented stunt performers she has worked with was one who became her husband in 2015: Braxton McAllister from Alpine, Utah.

“Every new project is something I can be proud of because each one presents a unique set of challenges to be overcome,” she says. “I’ve learned a lot about myself as I face my fears. It takes a certain amount of mental fortitude to stare down the barrel of a flame thrower, knowing it is going to be engulfing you in the immediate future.”

While some teachers may disagree, that may be a bit more daunting than facing a room full of second-graders.

Growing up in Naples, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Michaela got a change in scenery in southern Utah’s “gorgeous backdrop,” for several reasons. She wanted a ranked NCAA team and a school with high academic standards, and when she saw the quality of the College of Education, she says, “I felt that having an awesome education while competing and building a new gymnastics family there was the right choice.”

While she cherishes her teaching skills—which she uses on the job—she credits the Flippin’ Birds program with honing her athleticism and physicality to smooth her career transition.