Find what you’re good at and make a living at it. That was Justin Evans’ message to kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Columbus Friday.
The Columbus native, who got his start in “show business” dancing at New Hope High School in the early 2000s, moved to Atlanta and eventually became a stuntman in Hollywood, California. He’s now working on his fourth movie — this time as comedy star Kevin Hart’s stunt double — but he was in Columbus visiting family last week when he decided to do something for his hometown.
That was how he found himself in front of about 30 pre-teens and teenagers, high-fiving them and telling them about his stunt work in his latest movie, “Night School,” which will be released in 2018.
“I just performed a stunt where I was blown out of a building and I had to land on a Porsche,” he told them.
On the last take for the shot, he said, he bolted up a ramp, jumped and turned at the same time — a move he only perfected because of his years of dancing — and landed on a mark.
“(You may) say, ‘Anybody can do that, I can do that,'” Evans said. “But how many times can you do it, and how many times can you do it accurately?”
Evans’ talent for stunt work came from several years of doing things many of the kids in his audience Friday can also do. He did front and back flips, played sports, danced and cheered. Every one of those talents helped him be successful, he said.
But he said he spent years working and not letting people deter him from his goal.
“A lot of people laughed at me when I danced,” Evans said. “Nobody else wanted to do it, but guess what? My bills are paid now.
“Don’t care about what people are saying about you,” he added. “Don’t care about these silly people sitting around laughing at you.”
That comment stood out to 12-year-old Destiny Harris, a seventh grader at Columbus Middle School, who has been attending activities at the local Boys and Girls Club since she was 4.
“When (people) say I can’t do (something), they make me want to try harder,” she told Evans.
“I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. “I’ve gotten some of the best things done because people said I couldn’t do it.”
He encouraged the kids to find their “niche” — whatever it is they’re good at. It could be anything from dancing or performing like him to robotics and science like 15-year-old Evan Sanders, a Columbus High School sophomore in the audience.
“I want to try and revolutionize robotics with the use of neurology and stuff,” Sanders told Evans. “That’s my biggest dream.”
It might even be too big to achieve, he said, but Evans disagreed.
“Don’t knock it,” he said. “Don’t say that, ‘Oh, it may or may not happen.’ Anything that you can think of is never too big. … Just go for it.”
Both Harris and Sanders said they found Evans’ talk inspiring.
“I never knew it took that much to be a stunt artist,” Sanders said after the talk. “That’s really amazing what he can do and that all his professions meld together into one great, great performance.”
Boys and Girls Club local director Brittany Turner said she only scheduled Evans after he reached out to her and asked if he could talk with the kids.
“To me it was very important because it’s always good to have other people come and encourage them to reach their goals,” she said.
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