by Lucy Roberts
Stunt woman, actress, dancer and martial artist - Phoebe Robinson-Galvin’s CV is incredibly extensive and one to be marvelled at.
Despite starting out her career wanting to become a commercial dancer, Robinson-Galvin fell in love with martial arts, with a special affection for Brazilian ju-jitsu which she knew would be in her life forever.
Her skills were ones to be desired by film productions, landing her a stunt role on Wonder Woman – her dream job.
The real-life Wonder Woman explained how she got into martial arts, revealed her latest stunt role and spoke of how competing in bodybuilding affected her.
Q) Dancing was something you got into from an early age, and you got a BA Hons degree in it, so what was it about dancing that drew you in?
A) I wanted to be a dancer since I was a toddler. That’s honestly all I ever saw myself doing, it was my only ambition, my only goal. It was either become a popstar even though I’m not the best of singers and/or simultaneously become a professional dancer. So, I decided, I got into stage schools, that’s what I was going to do a degree in, but I just thought I wanted to do something different and I wanted to have something that other people didn’t have within the commercial industry so that’s when I went to the University of Chichester and did three years in contemporary dance which in hindsight wasn’t helpful because I then left there with a degree in contemporary dance wanting to be a commercial dancer. So, I had no training, and everyone said that to me. I think I might be the only person from that university that ever got a degree from there and became a commercial dancer professionally as far as I’m aware, I don’t know anyone. I then basically had to retrain once I left there, I had to start taking classes as much as I could and start to build my way up. In hindsight it wasn’t the best of ideas but there we have it.
Q) When and why did you decide to compete in bodybuilding?
A) I’d always considered myself an athlete and I’d always considered myself very strong. I come from a family of men that have that mentality and I realised I didn’t look like how I felt, and it was a weird realisation. So, I set myself this task that I was going to just transform my body, I wanted to look how I felt. And so, I started bodybuilding. I’d actually started doing really amazing functional training before it had kind of kicked off in the world at a private studio. I really gravitated towards that; it’s really calming to know where you stand with people like that. A few months later I said I really wanted to do these bodybuilding competitions, not because I want to be a pro at that or anything but just because I want to transform my genetics, I want to transform my body forever and I want to learn everything. I started training three to four days a week, I was working nights at that time as well and it was super intense, and I just didn’t stop. And seven months later I applied for my first bodybuilding competition and I came second, and I realised okay, I have the dedication, I have the motivation and I did it. It was very stressful, it did a lot of damage actually to me physiologically even though I had an incredible trainer, I never lost my periods for example which a lot of women do because they go way below what their fat percentage should be which affects their menstrual cycle. I had an amazing trainer and none of those things happened but my relationship with food was heavily changed and I’m a big foodie. So, it was a lot of work on myself for a couple of years after those competitions to reverse that damage that I had done to myself.
Q) Did you ever envision training in martial arts back when you were dancing?
A) It always blew my mind that there wasn’t a martial art that I was obsessed with. My dad’s side of the family are all martial artists and they come from a judo and karate background. My little sister, I’m the oldest and she’s the youngest, she’s seven years younger than me and she was doing judo from the age of 10 and I just couldn’t get down with it, it just wasn’t my jam. I always thought that’s really weird because I knew I was a martial artist. In 2011, my boyfriend at the time was super encouraging of me doing bodybuilding and just anything physical and he was like let’s go to Thailand, let’s go, so we went, and I fell in love with Muay Thai. I then I ended up doing that for the next five or six years. Then I went to LA and as a dancer and as someone who now had quite a few years of Muay Thai under my belt, I was about 25 at this point and I went there, and I started training in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. I thought let me give this a go, I had an experience of it when I was 20 with a World Champion female called Penny Thomas over in San Diego. Again, that same boyfriend introduced me to her, and we rolled. I said to my sister at that point, ju-jitsu is the best martial art in the world, there’s just no doubt about it, I don’t know when this is going to be a part of my life but it’s going to be a part of my life forever, once I begin. She shortly started Brazilian ju-jitsu after that and five years after that experience I went to LA and I met my idol Ronda Rousey and I started training Brazilian ju-jitsu full time and it took over my life. Now I’m engaged to a Brazilian ju-jitsu World Champion and I help run the schools with him and it did exactly what I said that it was going to be the biggest part of my life and that’s what happened. So, there was a crossover of martial arts and dance.
Q) How does Biosportart's CBD gel help you when recovering from aches and pains as a result of your stunt work?
A) I use Biosportart whenever I have a mild niggle or a serious injury. It’s an incredible anti-inflammatory and I get instant results on a daily basis. I recently sprained my big toe when training in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu and it was a bad one - black and blue. But I put Biosportart on it straight away and my recovery was super-fast while applying this.
Q) What’s been your favourite aspect of your career so far?
A) That’s difficult for me because my career has had different growths, I guess. I was a dancer and then I went into stunts and then I went into acting. There’s also competing in Brazilian ju-jitsu which I do because I love, not because I want to be the ultimate best in the world otherwise, I wouldn’t have been doing the other things that I was doing, it’s as simple as that. I just want to be really good at that, really competent and technical. But I don’t know, I think what was a dream come true was working on Wonder Woman. That job happened in the strangest of ways and it pulled all my abilities together. It pulled me in as a dancer, performer, always being on stage, always being in front of the camera, modelling, understanding how to work a room, all my physicality, boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian ju-jitsu. I felt in a way it was destiny. It was a stunt guy who had said there’s the audition and I’m going to put you forward for it, you should go, they’re looking for more stunt women. This had definitely been something I’d been thinking about, I come from a family of stuntmen. I’d been thinking about this for a while, and I thought this really does pull all my skills together. I went for the audition; it was a sword and shield competition. I had never done anything like that in my life and I just gave it my life basically. Then I sort of harassed the fight coordinator and kept emailing him. I had this instinct that that’s what I needed to do, and I kept emailing him, here’s me training, here’s me doing this, here’s me doing that, hi, I’m still here. I didn’t hear anything for like three months and I didn’t know what it was for, I didn’t know it was for Wonder Woman when I had gone to audition for it. So, I had no idea, but it was at Warner Bros. studios, so I knew it was something big. Then I was on a bus and I got a voicemail: “Hi Phoebe can you give us a call, it’s (I can’t remember who it was) from the production.” And I called them back and they just said: “I want to say a massive congratulations and welcome to the team.” And even just saying it out loud I get emotional because it was such a moment. It was just like on the bus in the middle of South West London. I knew I was going to be in a job in Hollywood around some incredible people. It was a female director so for me that was just like wow. That was the beginning, and I was on that job for two and a half months, something like that. And we travelled to Italy, we shot all those scenes there and we did lots of stuff here. There was pressure, it was a very intense environment, very intense. I felt like I was ready for it but also, I felt like how is this happening. So, that was the highlight for me so far.
Q) What’s your favourite country that you’ve travelled to so far for work or training and why?
A) I always wanted to travel, that was always a massive pull for me in my life. The ocean has always been my north, that’s always been the thing, the palm trees, the ocean, that’s my north. It’s definitely in alignment with what I want my life to feel like and be like. My first boyfriend had a massive influence on me because he was older than me and he really saw my potential. And it was a really amazing experience for me that relationship. He was the one who was like we need to go to Thailand, we need to go to Hawaii I have friends there, we need to do this, you need to try this. He was a really positive influence in my life and the things that he encouraged me do to, I now do, so it was a beautiful experience for me. Hawaii - I went for like six weeks, I actually ended up writing my university dissertation on culture and tourism within Hawaii and hula dance. I think it’s a toss-up between Hawaii and Brazil for me. They’re all amazing for different reasons but I think it’s always a feeling.
Q) What has been the most enjoyable film you’ve worked on and why?
A) I think my favourite production to have worked on was Wonder Woman, but I also doubled the lead actress on Hannah, which is on Amazon Prime, for season two in 2019. That was incredible because I was the lead double, so I got this amazing experience and I learnt so much on that job because it was six months, all day, every day. We travelled to Barcelona to shoot and we travelled to Paris to shoot, so that was a total whirlwind. It was very life changing for me on so many levels, I felt so much more mature when that opportunity came around and so much more sure of myself. One of the reasons I ended up getting that role was because the fight coordinated wanted someone with some wrestling or some Brazilian ju-jitsu experience and by that point that’s really what I had been doing for the last five years. It was a different experience. Wonder Woman was this whirlwind dream that I was sort of thrown into and I just had to learn everything, and it was intense and there was a lot of energy. It was just so much, and it was also such a short period of time. But then when Hannah came around, I was so much more settled in myself, so it was a different fun.
Q) What is your role in the film Never Back Down – The Revolt, which is due to be released soon?
A) Funny story but I don’t think the director had clocked that I actually had auditioned for the role that I ended up doubling the girl on for this job. So, I don’t think anyone quite realised that so that’ll be an exclusive. I auditioned and they went with someone else, she was right for it, her name is Brooke (Johnston). I got a call from a stunt coordinator and previous to that I’d worked with a fight coordinator called Tim Man who’s just absolutely phenomenal and just such a lovely human being and he had mentioned my name to the coordinator. I’d actually already known Dan, the coordinator, from something else and he said are you available for these dates and I said yeah I am, which was great timing. I ended up going for an audition and then starting. It was amazing because there was a really small core stunt team, there was four of us and I got to work with some amazing stunt people and the lead guy of the whole thing is Michael Bisping, a big UFC star, so it was great to watch him work and watch his process and it was a supportive environment with great people and that always makes a job. It was fascinating. I won’t say too much more because I’ll probably give away some of the story. But it was awesome.
Phoebe Robinson-Galvin is an ambassador for Biosportart (https://biosportart.co.uk/). A new WADA-compliant CBD gel completely free from THC, pesticides and impurities.
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