Danusia Francis, 27, is a British-born gymnast of Jamaican and Polish heritage who represented Jamaica at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It is not widely known that Francis also worked as a stunt double in the 2020 film “The Midnight Sky,” a science fiction story based on the novel “Good Morning, Midnight” by Lily Brooks-Dalton and directed by George Clooney, who also starred in the picture.
Francis found doing stunt work to be exciting and that seeing her name in the movie credits was “really cool.” She worked closely with Clooney who showed her exactly what he wanted in some scenes. She said he was “really lovely” on the set and made everyone feel very welcome. Another part of the stunt double experience involved having to act out a scene to show the producers how it would be when the actors performed; Francis had to act in front of George Clooney, which was somewhat embarrassing for her when the scene involved vomiting. After she was finished, however, Clooney told her, “Good job throwing up.” Francis added, “I’ll have that on my gravestone. And not only did I throw up, we’re in space, so I’m dangling in a harness and I’m throwing up, so it’s quite a skill. Yes, this is my life right now. I’m in a gigantic wooden spaceship at Shepperton Studios and George Clooney’s about to watch me dangling sideways, throw up and then glide into my spacesuit. So strange. But that’s what I live for, honestly.”
In addition to the Clooney film, Francis also appeared in “Wonder Woman” as a stunt person for Amazon.
Danusia Francis started in gymnastics at the age of five, attended school on an athletics scholarship, and began representing Great Britain in competitive gymnastics, building on her experience until she became a reserve athlete for GB at the 2012 Olympics. She then traveled to the United States to pursue her education at UCLA in California and competed for the UCLA Bruins from 2013 to 2016.
During her time at UCLA, Francis realized her love for performing, and this encouraged her to again consider participating in international competitions. However, as she was far from her UK training camp, she explored additional options. Her Jamaican heritage coupled with her admiration for Jamaica’s multi-Olympic medalist Usain Bolt, she decided to become a citizen of Jamaica and compete for the island nation, hoping to improve its profile in the global gymnastics community. She first competed for Jamaica at the 2015 Worlds and qualified for the Rio Olympics in 2016. When she graduated from UCLA in 2016, Francis retired from gymnastics, although many people asked if she would come out of retirement to seek qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games. After some thought, she felt she still had the desire to reach the Olympics, her ultimate goal.
Her Tokyo Olympics experience was not exactly what she had planned, however. Francis learned she had torn her anterior cruciate ligament just two days before she was scheduled to participate in the women’s individual all-around event. She had to withdraw from the balance beam, vault, and floor exercise portions of the competition but chose to compete on the uneven bars despite her injury. While she scored the lowest of any competitor overall, her execution score of 9.033 was the highest given to any athlete on the uneven bars.
Her advice to future gymnasts is “Work hard to be the best that you can be. Don’t compare yourself to others.”
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