Local Woman Dodging Danger For A Living Inspires Young Girls

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — La Faye Baker is a woman on the move.

It’s been that way since she was a little girl growing up in South Central Los Angeles.

“I know that I do get bored real quickly. My mother said I was always into everything. I would get on the table and just jump,” she told CBS2’s Suzie Suh.

Luckily for her mom, hula hoops caught Baker’s interest at a young age.

She went on to set a world record in 1975. She also set the Guinness World Record by twirling 58 hula hoops at one time.

Baker went on to become an outstanding athlete in High School, but she was passionate about gymnastics.

“When I graduated from college, it was really kind of difficult for me to find a job. And then shortly, somebody introduced me to the probation department,” she recalls.

For 15 years, Baker worked at a probation camp in Malibu, encouraging kids to face their fears.

It was there that a chance meeting opened her eyes to Hollywood’s world of make-believe and its most dangerous profession: stunt performance.

“And I met a young man and he was a stuntman and he walked up to me and he said ‘You ought to be a stuntwoman.’ And I said, ‘You are crazy,’ ” she said.

Baker, though, was a natural and never looked back.

Her first job was on the television show “In the Heat of the Night.”

“I was so blown away. I just didn’t know what to expect and I was like, ‘This is really exciting,’ ” she said. “My motto is, ‘If anybody else can do it, I can do it too.’ ”

In the 2011 movie “Green Lantern,” Baker stood in for Angela Bassett, getting tossed and thrown like a rag doll.

She doubled Lynn Whitfield in the 1996 film “A Thin Line between Love and Hate,” where she was pushed into a window.

For the most part, stunts are well-choreographed and are safe, but despite precautions, stunt performers can still be injured.

That’s what happened in 1996 while filming “Ready or Not,” a music video for hip-hop group The Fugees.

It was then that Baker’s chin hit the speedometer during a motorcycle jump.

“When my chin hit the speedometer, I broke both of my jaws at the joint,” she recalls.

Nothing, though, seems to slow Baker down, who still works as a probation officer and gives back to the community through Diamond in the Raw.

The nonprofit group, she says, is devoted to empowering and transforming lives of teen girls and foster care girls through the arts.

Over 75 girls a year take part in various programs offered by Diamond in the Raw, including ones where celebrities or entertainment executives serve as mentors or speakers.

“I think that is so important as a minority that we need to educate,inspire, encourage,” she said.