Terri Cadiente: Courageous Living
By Michelle Wilson
The 700 Club
Terri Cadiente is one of America’s premier stuntwomen. She’s worked as a “stunt double” for actresses Pamela Anderson, Linda Hamilton, and Jessica Simpson. She’s appeared in blockbusters like Evan Almighty, Titanic, and Waterworld. She’s even crossed over into television, working on the hit TV series 24, and for that work she won the 2008 Screen Actor’s Guild award for "Best Stunt Ensemble."
“I love being a stuntwoman in Hollywood," Terri tells The 700 Club. "I really, really do. I’ve been falling down all my life. I just found a way to get paid for it. If I told you I fell into it, would you laugh? 'Cause really I fell into it. I used to race jet skis. In 1994, we were training for the world finals. That’s if you remember. That was also when Waterworld was being filmed. So the film world began noticing jet skis, if you will. My actual first job, I was invited to be a double for Linda Hamilton. Then my second job was Titanic. My ship came in, and so ever since then, it’s been so much fun."
So, what does she do on 24?
She replies with a laugh, “We crash cars and help Jack Bauer save the world. I mean, what else is there to 24? But that’s a real treat to be able to work next to someone like Keifer. He’s such a master of his craft.”
With all of the accolades and awards Terri garnered from the stunt world, there was a time in her life that wasn’t so exciting.
“I grew up with a father who was an alcoholic, and there was abuse within the home," Terri recalls. "The first time that I saw my own blood, something very deep happened.”
As Terri grew into her teens, she began to redefine herself through the abuse. After high school, she started partying and using cocaine to cover up her brokenness.
She says, “It took me to a place where it didn’t hurt. I hadn’t felt that happy in so, so long 'cause there was such a heavy sadness.”
Terri’s drug use led her to get involved with a guy who sold drugs. Then one day as she and her boyfriend were leaving a party, they got in an argument that almost led to her death.
“He grabbed as much hair as he could, took my head and thrust it towards the windshield. I’m trying to push back, but he slammed on the brakes at that same time. My head slammed into that windshield. As he pulled me from the car and then threw me into where I landed, which was the street gutter. I remember that is when I called out, ‘God, if You’re who You say You are, please help me.’”
After she was released from the hospital she went to church that following Sunday.
“I accepted the Lord in my heart and I believed that it was true, because I had just had this experience," she explains. "When you are living such a dark lifestyle and you do experience the Lord’s grace and peace for the first time, it’s different. Something changes.”
Terri made the decision to follow God, and she was totally delivered from an eight-year addiction to drugs.
“The relationship I first thought of is ‘God is so far away, how could He have time for me’ to the relationship that I understand now is that He is very interested in me. He’s invested a lot in everyone of us. That was the amazing part.”
Terri is now able to take her Christian faith to Hollywood in a unique way as a stuntwoman.
“To be a Christian in Hollywood, the cool part of it is there is no compromise," she says. "Because I kneel and bow to the Father, I don’t have to kneel and bow to man in the sense of I just know who I am. It’s really important that you know who you are when you step into Hollywood or there’s a cookie cutter that comes on you, and it will shape you.”
Terri talks about her life story and gives a challenge to others in her book, Live Courageously. She knows firsthand that Jesus is where her courage comes from.
“He is the answer, and a personal relationship with Him will change everything. It always does.”
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