After looking at Jahnel Curfman’s bio, one can’t help but be impressed. She was Sandra Bullock’s stunt double in Birdbox, Karen Gillan’s stunt double in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle & Jumanji: The Next Level and serves as Cobra Kai’s stunt coordinator, for which she received an Emmy nomination last year alongside her husband, Hiro Koda.
And those are just a few of her credits. While all the tv/film productions are currently shut down because of the virus (she was working on Season 4 of Stranger Things), Jahnel is adding a new title to her resume during this break, campaign manager for her dad’s political run for office (Kenneth Curfman for Justice of the Peace Precinct 5).
Below, we talked to her more about this, as well as the similarities between Hollywood and politics.
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While productions have been shut down, you have been doing something else besides being a stunt double/stunt coordinator. You have been campaign managing your dad’s political run for office (Kenneth Curfman for Justice of the Peace Precinct 5). Can you talk a little bit about that?
Curfman: Yes! It’s been very much a family effort. This is brand new territory for me, having never been in politics before! My dad approached my husband (2nd unit director Hiro Koda) and I about shooting a campaign video for him. He wanted it to be very organized and professional because that’s how he runs his court as a Judge. We jumped at the opportunity! The one thing he was adamant about was not having a script. He wanted to make sure the voters were hearing a genuine message and not some rehearsed political jargon. We had a great time shooting the videos and putting our talents as filmmakers to use while our productions are shut down due to the quarantine.
What do you think sets your dad apart from the other candidates?
Curfman: My dad is unique in that he is the only candidate running for Judge that has been and is a presiding Judge. His knowledge of the law is astounding. He’s also a business owner which allows him to implement his business skills in the administrative aspects of running a court. But most importantly, he’s lived in our community for over 40 years. He really cares about the people who live there and is always the first person to lend a helping hand.
Can you tell us about some of the similarities between working in entertainment and politics?
Curfman: There’s a quote that was made famous by Abraham Lincoln that holds true for both entertainment and politics: “You can please some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Popular opinion is the driving force behind both fields. But also, like film, there are a lot of moving parts in a campaign. Keeping up with current events, advertising, social media, public events. Everyone is working together for one common goal just like on a film set.
What has surprised you the most about working in politics?
Curfman: The thing that has surprised me the most about working in politics is the creative aspect of it. My mom and dad and I sit down in the morning with our coffee and brainstorm on how to reach the voters in fresh, new ways while staying consistent with the Judge’s campaign message. Also, if you want to be in politics you really have to have a thick skin and not let all of the things the opposition says get to you.
What production were you working on when the shutdown happened?
Curfman: I was working on Stranger Things Season 4!
What had been on your future calendar that has now been pushed back? Jumanji 3?
Curfman: Oh, a Jumanji 3 would be awesome. We have the best time on those movies. But, as to anything that has been pushed back, my lips must remain sealed!
You are one of the stunt coordinators on Cobra Kai, it was just announced that the show would be moving from Youtube to Netflix. Do you know what prompted the move? How is the show going to be different now?
Curfman: Yes, that was exciting news! Youtube has been canceling most of it’s scripted content and it would have been a terrible loss to cancel Cobra Kai! I’m really happy for their decision to sell it to Netflix instead. There isn’t much new content coming out right now because of the shut down so, I would guess that the unreleased season 3 of Cobra Kai was a big motivating factor. As for how the show will be different, that will be felt mostly on a production level. Cobra Kai creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg are still at the helm and they always keep the story true to the Karate Kid legacy.
On your IMDb, some of your credits are stunt performer and others are stunt double. What is the difference between the 2?
Curfman: As a stunt performer I’m actually performing the stunts on screen and as a stunt coordinator my role is behind the camera. When I’m coordinating, I’m in charge of designing and choreographing the stunts. It involves a lot of meetings and working with all of the different departments on a film or television show. It’s such a blessing to be able to do both!
What has been your favorite stunt to work on to date?
Curfman: That’s a toughy. One of my favorite stunts to perform was the bridge sequence in Jumanji, The Next Level. It was incredibly challenging and intricate. The team I spent weeks dialing in these huge leaps across the sound stage on wires. It truly felt like flying!