STUNTFILE: Susana Hornil

Here is a quick biography on one of the STUNTWOMAN I had the chance to interview. Learn more about her "STUNTWORDS To Live By" in the book!


Susana was born in Venezuela to a Cuban mother and a Danish father, splitting her childhood between Denmark and Venezuela, so she was exposed to different cultures at an early age. In high school Susana was presented with two career paths: social or science. Her choice—science, because she felt the prospects for a sustainable career were broader. Despite the two options presented, Susana’s most attractive option was always acting. She was even casted on a soap opera. A passion for performance and ingenuity for creating her own options would be a theme throughout her life and career.

Enrolling in university at fifteen years old, Susana spent her mornings studying economics, and her afternoons acting and writing for theater, TV, and commercials, activities she considered hobbies. During her last year at university, the TV channel wanted Susana to work full time on the soap opera, a direct conflict to getting her degree in economics. Ultimately, she sacrificed TV acting to graduate. Her rationale at the time: by having a degree in economics she could pretty much work anywhere.

Before graduating from university she was already working as the writer’s assistant for the director of the Deutsche Presse-Agentur in Latin America and mergers and acquisitions with real estate financier Colliers International. Then she got hit with the acting bug with plans to move to New York to study at the Actors Conservatory. The horrific September 11th attack occurred during this time, causing Susana to stay in Venezuela longer than she had planned. She started working in the oil and gas industry and shortly after was assigned by the company she worked for to attend a highly selective MBA program in Italy, where she embarked on furthering her knowledge base in business. Susana’s old habits would follow her to Italy as she took acting classes while in business school. 

After business school, Susana moved back to Venezuela to keep working in oil and gas. She began to foresee the political instability in her country having a negative effect on the industry so she decided to move on to work for a private telecommunications company, Corporación Digitel. The multitasker subsequently launched a radio show and began producing a movie during her time at the corporation. It was then when she realized film was more than a hobby - it was her passion.

Susana packed up her bags and moved to Los Angeles. Starting from scratch, Susana took on internships with Walt Disney Studios and production companies such as Mandeville Films and Scott Rudin Productions. A pivotal day in her production career came when she asked award-winning producer Fred Roos to be his assistant. Roos responded, “Why do you want to be my assistant? You can’t be my assistant. You are a producer. Come to me with four to five million dollars, and let's make a film together.”

Susana is now the founder of Hornil Brothers Productions, an independent production company based in Los Angeles, and the co-founder of SB Films, a co- production partnership that has roots in Italy, Brazil, and the U.S.


STUNTFILE: John Volmink

Here is a quick biography on one of the STUNTMEN I had the chance to interview. Learn more about his "STUNTWORDS To Live By" in the book!


John Volmink was born in upstate New York. The balance struck by his family upbringing would ultimately be the inspiration that would drive him toward film production; his mother was a teacher (stimulating his creativity through reading and encouraging arts and crafts) and his father was a mathematician (helping develop his analytical mind). During his childhood he was completely transfixed with films from the ‘80s like The Never Ending Story and The Goonies. From New York he moved to Botswana for a short period of time, and then to South Africa, growing up in Cape Town and Durban. Spending much of his youth in different countries immersed in various cultures, he observed life as if from a third-person perspective, as he learned the nuances of each culture, which he deemed useful now as a storyteller.

Film was always a pipe dream for John. He studied economics at university. His favorite subject, however, was philosophy. For him, economics was the easiest option for a respectable occupation.

Economics did open some doors for John as he began his professional career at JPMorgan’s Investment Banking Division in Johannesburg. The money and the prestige of investment banking were immediately attractive to John, but not for long.

He could not ignore the voices roaring in his head telling him to pursue a film career. John decided to combine the best of both worlds—business and storytelling. Still in South Africa, he leveraged his business relationships, salesmanship skills learned in banking, and his passion for film into an entrepreneurial film distribution business. When that business failed to launch, due to the proliferation of piracy in the country, John saw that there was a lack of films that appealed to certain market segments. He also saw an opportunity to further pursue his passion as a filmmaker. In a competitive and difficult-to-navigate film business in South Africa, John’s company Diprente Films is now seen as a beacon of hope for the South African film market (as well as television). Diprente has successfully broadened the media landscape, focusing on digital distribution alternatives as well as producing premium content through international partnerships. Through his efforts he hopes to open the door for other filmmakers and move the film industry in South Africa forward.

STUNTFILE: Tristan Walker

Here is a quick biography on one of the STUNTMEN I had the chance to interview. Learn more about his "STUNTWORDS To Live By" in the book!


In high school, the academic expectations could not have gotten any higher for Tristan Walker. He came from a family that wanted nothing more than greatness and constantly made it clear through strict curfews and limits on any potential social distractions. Using that pressure as fuel, Tristan stepped up to the challenge, building on his academic success to pursue a unique career trajectory.

Tristan enrolled in the economics program at nearby Stony Brook University, where he excelled and graduated within three years with a 4.0 grade point average and the title of valedictorian of his class. His career prospects were promising after such strong performance in college. Yet, he admits then that he thought the road to wealth was to be an athlete—which he admits did not work out too well—or to work on Wall Street. He chose Wall Street. After a brief stint working in finance Tristan found the culture on Wall Street less than desirable. Instead Tristan enrolled in Stanford’s Business School to refine business acumen and nurture his passion for technology. During his time at Stanford he became the first intern at then little-known social network startup Twitter, then the burgeoning Foursquare.

Tristan followed his passion further and landed a position at one of Silicon Valley’s largest venture capital firms, Andreessen Horowitz. In 2012, Tristan launched a nonprofit called CODE 2040, a fellows program that matches high-performing minority coders and software engineering students with Silicon Valley startups for summer internships to ensure their successful participation in the high-tech economy.

Tristan notes that "Race Against the Machine" is one of his favorite books because “the premise is that if the poorer don’t learn to leverage technology and the rich do, then they might permanently be part of the lower class.” He lives with his wife in Palo Alto, California.



Just in time for New York Fashion Week, here is a quick biography on one of the STUNTWOMAN I had the chance to interview. Learn more about her "STUNTWORDS To Live By" in the book!


Before Rie Yano landed her first job she'd traveled around the world and back. She was born in Japan, spent part of her high school years in Mexico and Canada, and then returned to Japan to attend Sophia University. While at Sophia she had studied abroad at New York University.

Rie decided to begin her professional career in Tokyo at Mitsubshi. Impressively, she became a spokesperson for the automobile manufacturer and two years later moved back to New York City charged with leading Mitsubishi’s global public relations team.

While her career was in full force, so was her desire to dance. So much so that she began taking trips to Buenos Aires by herself on the weekends to tango. Considering her proximity to South America, she jumped on the opportunity to learn tango at its origin, building her passion for the dance. By her second year in New York City, she had already been to Buenos Aires five times, all the while taking professional courses at New York University.

Though building a successful career at Mitsubishi, Rie was ready to take learning to the next step. She enrolled at Harvard Business School and during her two years there, she became a semi-finalist in the school's business plan contest. Her business idea was a design/fashion crowd- sourcing site to promote the work of Japanese artists and designers online, which she eventually launched over the summer in Japan with two classmates; learning hands-on about entrepreneurship while finishing her degree. However, after business school, she eventually closed the startup to take a job in New York City. She wanted to be back in New York City because she felt it was the epicenter of culture and would be a great environment to find partners to launch her second startup.

Fusing her business knowledge and love of fashion, Rie joined Coach Inc., a luxury American leather goods company. She became the web project manager in the Digital Media Marketing Department, where she managed the digital content production for the brand’s web, mobile, and social media platforms in North America and Japan. Almost two years later, she left Coach to co-found Material Wrld, a fashion community dedicated to luxury resale, with Jie Zheng, her friend and classmate from business school. Not surprisingly, Material Wrld was founded with a global vision to create the most personalized shopping experience and revolutionize the way fashion enthusiasts shop and sell goods.


STUNTFILE: Marianna Farag

Here is a quick biography on one of the STUNTWOMAN I had the chance to interview. Learn more about her "STUNTWORDS To Live By" in the book!


 For Marianna, fashion design was her original plan. But like many young men and women figuring out their future, her plan evolved and Marianna found herself studying hotel management at the École hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland. Upon graduating and after a few internships in hospitality, another industry attracted Marianna. Big pharma is where Marianna would ultimately find her place and skyrocket up the corporate ladder. Her knack for strategy and teamwork landed a product management role at Schering, now a division of Merck & Co. Based in Paris, Marianna worked on several brands and traveled extensively in her new role. Four years later she moved to New York City for a nine-month assignment that ultimately became two years—enough time for her to fall in love with the city. She’d also like to work in an emerging market like China or Brazil.

Marianna defines herself as a "third culture kid" with hungry eyes to discover the world and its people. Photography has become her passion and it’s her tool to capture the world around her. Completely self-taught, Marianna has been developing her craft for over five years.

Although she loves her work in the pharmaceutical industry, she wants to eventually connect with her passion for photography on a deeper level. She has already received accolades and requests to include her work in multiple media outlets, so it’s only a matter of time before she books a plane ticket to travel the world; taking photos of all the diverse cultures along the way. 


STUNTFILE: John Hideyoshi Martyn

Here is a quick biography on one of the STUNTMEN I had the chance to interview. Learn more about his "STUNTWORDS To Live By" in the book!


John's first influences in business happened during his younger years living in Islamabad, Pakistan. His Japanese mother would take him to the market, where he would learn to negotiate. His knack for business followed him when he moved to Virginia during his middle school years. He and his brother began selling lemonade to construction workers in their neighborhood. They would rake leaves, cut grass, and shovel snow, treating each customer as a valued account. John then moved to Paris for high school, where the craps games being played between classes or after school were more than a way to waste time. For John they were an opportunity to earn profit and hustle the affluent kids, whose parents were diplomats, ambassadors, or powerful business executives. During his freshman year in college, John had began day trading and was making a hefty profit on the stock market. Business was so good he left school, but thought it better to seize upon another business opportunity—this time, buying office electronics in bulk from bankrupt tech companies and selling it on eBay. Two years later he decided he wanted a degree. After various internships and studying abroad at Sophia University in Tokyo, John eventually graduated with honors in global affairs from George Mason University.

John’s next stop was New York City, where he landed a dream job working in finance as an account manager on Park Avenue. John worked on the international sales desk at BlackRock, the global investment firm. Nearing the end of his three and a half years at BlackRock, John began working on ABCLoop, a startup that served as an online language- learning community for Japanese who wanted to learn English. He worked to build the startup during his work hours and free time, so much so that it became apparent that his passion was ABCLoop. He eventually launched the company in the fall of 2010 and left BlackRock. Expanding his passion further, John moved from New York to Tokyo in 2011 to continue with ABCLoop (which became Language Cloud) with his brother Billy and childhood friend Franky. Already in its second year of impressive growth and substantial capital raised, Language Cloud is a web and mobile platform designed to improve the way language teachers manage their classes and assignments.


STUNTFILE: Cecilia Rodríguez Alcalá

Here is a quick biography on one of the STUNTWOMEN I had the chance to interview. Learn more about her "STUNTWORDS To Live By" in the book!


Originally born in Asunción, Paraguay, at 15, Cecilia moved with her family to Miami, Florida. She knew well then that America, specifically, Miami and Paraguay were two different worlds. She went from a small private school in Paraguay to a large public school in Miami. Cecilia found herself wanting more out of her education than what was offered at her new school. She was compelled to ace all of her classes to place out of remedial classes, and earned her place in the Advance Placement courses. Eventually her academic talents landed her a full scholarship to Tufts University and the next chapter of an extraordinary life.

At Tufts she majored in international relations and history and minored in political science. But perhaps more telling of her will to excel was Cecilia’s participation in extracurricular activities such as starting a non-profit, joining the International Club that organized all the international parties on campus, joining the Latino Group, and joining the Spanish House. Cecilia worked for the Jumpstart project with Yale University, and then became a board member of Sparks International, an NGO that started at Princeton and creating the first co-ed school in Kabul, Afghanistan. Also during her time at Tufts she visited Barcelona during a summer between semesters, where she did marketing for a hospitality company.

She decided she wanted to give back to her country of birth, Paraguay, so after school she went back there to write for FOCO magazine and work with Martin Burt and the Fundación Paraguaya, an NGO based in Paraguay that promotes entrepreneurship, self-sufficient schools, and microfinance programs. After interviewing a group of computer scientists for the magazine, she found herself compelled to organize an effort to bring more computers to Paraguay. She was instrumental in getting a tech magnate to donate two hundred laptops to her efforts in Paraguay. She then convinced a European donor to donate an additional four thousand laptops, which would become the beginnings of her current non-profit, Paraguay Educa. Cecilia has continued to influence change in Paraguay, most recently aiding in the passing and execution of the FONACIDE law. This law establishes the first trust fund for education-related projects in Paraguay’s history with a public-private board, providing a total of $180 million per year, for the next ten years.

STUNTFILE: Arianna Huffington

STUNTWOMAN: Arianna Huffington

 STUNT:  Entertainment


Huffington has been able to navigate the sharky waters of politics and media to become an extremely successful author and media maven. We are all aware of her trajectory, however she began to STUNT long before her entry into the limelight. At the age of 16, she moved to the United Kingdom, and studied economics at Girton College (University of Cambridge). While at Cambridge she became the first foreign and third female President of the Cambridge Union since its foundation in 1815. Leading this highly elite group of students, and honing her skills in debating while in college, is what groomed her to be able to swim with the sharks on Capitol Hill and corporate American...and WIN.


Huffington has been honing her STUNT from an early age in the debate halls of Cambridge. As one of the few women in the world that have been able to successfully traverse politics and business, the odds stacked against her were nothing new to her. She has been one of the few women since college in the circles that she now dominates. She learned to rally constituents to agree on debate topics, which was a valuable transferable skill when she was either arguing political issues or raising investor capital for The Huffington Post.



STUNTFILE: Sir Richard Branson

STUNTMAN: Sir Richard Branson

STUNT: Entrepreneur


Branson is the epitome of an entrepreneur life gone right. From his early days as the founder of The Student magazine, to his recent race to commercialize space travel, he has been able to defy odds by committing 100% and never looking back. This type of behavior has been lucrative, however has definitely almost gotten him killed a few times; trying to set records in hot air balloons and speed boats. It was his mother that played a pivotal role in grooming him for the high risk, high reward life he would go on to live. When he was as early as 4yrs old, his mother would make him find his way home, miles away and through rural fields. By age 12, his mother would send him off with a sandwich and an apple to bike over 50 miles to the nearby town. All this training is what broke him from being "shy" and introverted, and allowed him to look at each situation as an adventure to discovering what he was truly capable of.


By whipping the shyness out of Branson and making him extremely independent at an early age, his mother forced him to sign up for any adventures life would bring. This trait has been one of his strongest, as he has been able to start business after business, knowing that a long road with risks and potential failures lay ahead. He would be the first to tell you that he isn't always the smartest in the room, however what STUNTMEN realize is that it isn't always about who knows the most, but who is willing to proactively sign up for an adventure that could win in the end.



STUNTFILE: Misty Copeland

STUNTWOMAN: Misty Copeland

STUNT: Ballerina  


In 2007, Copeland became the first black female soloist in the American Ballet Theater's history. Some would describe her as the Jackie Robinson of the classical ballet world. At the young age of 13, she made the decision to make ballet her life and has dedicated herself to competing at the highest level of the art form. Along the way, she has had to battle criticism from instructors based on her body type and marginalization due to the color of her skin, however her belief in herself and hard work prevailed. Like barrier breakers in history, the uphill battle against all odds has actually made her stronger, performing with the American Ballet Theater for the past 5 years, as well as going on-tour with Prince in 2011, and receiving multiple awards of excellence in her field.


There are many other ballet dancers that dream of being selected to join the American Ballet Theater, not to mention the many black ballet dancers that have yet to get the opportunity to perform at such a high level of the art form. Misty, however possesses a sense of self efficacy that has helped to keep her motivated from a young age. This strong trait is what she has cultivated since the age of 13, when she decided that she would dedicate her life to perfecting her craft, in arguably one of the most conservative art forms in the world.