The Courage to Live the Dream: Hollywood Stuntwoman Diane Peterson Inspiring Women to Overcome Fear and Follow Dreams 

Have you ever stood at the edge of a dream, your heart racing with anticipation, your palms tingling with fear ? Have you ever reflected on the possibility of living the dream and wondered what would be possible should you have the courage to take that first step?

In a world where the pursuit of dreams can often be overshadowed by the weight of doubts and fears, we reached out to Hollywood Stuntwoman Diane Peterson who’s courage defies expectations and challenges the status quo. Diane’s recent book reminds us that courage is not the absence of fear, but the audacity to face it head-on.

From her early days as an actress and a fearless Hollywood Stuntwoman, Diane has shown us over and over again that the path to success is often paved with challenges, and it’s the response to those challenges that truly defines us. But Diane’s story is more than just a tale of professional achievements; it’s a fascinating tapestry woven with threads of resilience, faith, and the unwavering determination to live life on her own terms.

A graduate of the University of Miami with a zest for learning and growth, she explores new challenges and follows big dreams with courage. From her adventures on film sets to her role as the former president of the Ferrari Club of America Southwest Region or a parishioner of Our Lady of Malibu church, Diane’s self-discipline and style have shaped her into a force to be reckoned with.

Celebrating Diane Peterson’s story will inspire kindle the fire within you. Let her triumphs serve as a reminder that the pursuit of dreams is fuelled by self-awareness, resilience, and the audacity to stand up to fear rather than succumb to its intimidation. As Diane has shown us, the most extraordinary lives are often forged by those who are unafraid to embrace the extraordinary within themselves.

“The role of stuntwomen has come a long way since I began work in the 70’s. Men are not permitted to double women. The production company would incur a huge fine. There are certainly more talented women doing stunts than ever before. The challenges are both for stuntwomen and stuntmen. CGI, Computer-generated imagery has taken a lot of jobs away from stunt performers. Now AI, Artificial Intelligence, is capable of stealing images of stunts performed. That’s one of the reasons that Screen Actors Guild Union actors and stunt performers are on strike now.” – Diane Peterson

Diane’s career spans over two hundred movies and television shows, with a wealth of experiences that include breath-taking stunts, heart-warming victories, and inevitable heartbreak. One pivotal moment in her career was her involvement in the television show ‘Kojak’ in the mid-70s. A near-miss with a speeding car while on set served as a powerful catalyst for Diane’s transformation. “It was like an epiphany, I wanted to be driving one of those cars and doing stunts!” she recalls. 

“I’ve been in over two hundred movies and television shows. One that changed my life was when I was working on the television show ‘Kojak’ in New York City in the mid 70’s. I had a small acting part, ‘The Woman with the Baby Carriage’. As I was crossing the street at 77th & Madison, a speeding car being chased by the police, nearly hit my baby carriage!

After the scene was over, I approached the two stuntmen and said, “Hi! I’m Diane Peterson. I ride horses, motorcycles, and race my car in quarter mile drags, I’d really like to do stunts!” They looked me up and down and said, “Forget honey, we put the wigs on and we do it!” At that time in New York City that’s what they did! After relentlessly pursuing them for a job, they gave me a chance. I had to be hit by a car! I lived through that and finally broke through the glass ceiling and became the first stuntwoman inducted into the East Coast Stuntmen’s Association.”

Breaking through the glass ceiling, Diane became the first stuntwoman inducted into the East Coast Stuntmen’s Association, setting the stage for a legacy of female empowerment in a traditionally male-dominated field.

“The themes of adventure, joy, heartbreak, injury and death are all part of my journey. Four of my stuntmen friends have been killed. One happened in front of me while on the set. I was injured badly with a heel bone fractured in five places. I survived two divorces but had countless adventures and immeasurable joy! Throughout the challenging times I relied on my faith and focused on following my dream. I managed to gather the inner strength to continue on.” 

Diane’s life story is a tapestry woven with threads of courage, adventure, joy, heartbreak, injury, and death. The loss of four stuntmen friends demonstrates the gravity of her chosen path. Yet, despite all the challenges, Diane’s faith and resilience grew bigger than her fears: “Overcoming fears was the hardest part,” she admits, proving her courage in the face of adversity.

white concrete building on top of mountain during sunset

The courage to challenge fear to live the dream

Fear, though a primal survival instinct, has the ability to morph into a paralysing force that shrinks life satisfaction and closes down our ability to dream.

Research reveals that the amygdala plays a crucial role in processing emotions such as fear. When triggered, the amygdala sets off a chain reaction that floods the body with stress hormones, preparing it for a “fight or flight” response. This primal reaction was once crucial for our ancestors to survive dangerous situations. However, in the modern world, where physical threats are often replaced by emotional and psychological challenges, the same response can often limit rather than rescue.

Diane Peterson’s journey through her career as a Hollywood Stuntwoman is not just a chronicle of breath-taking stunts and audacious scenes—it’s a living proof to the brain’s remarkable ability to rewire itself, even in the face of fear. Her experiences mirror the findings of neuroscientists who suggest that exposure therapy, a technique that involves confronting fear in a controlled environment, can lead to fear extinction. Through repeated exposures to a fear-inducing stimulus, the brain can gradually learn that the once-threatening situation is no longer dangerous.

In Diane’s case, each daring stunt, every leap from a precarious height, and every negotiation of her fear of heights became a form of exposure therapy. With each successful conquest, her brain rewired its response to fear. Her courage in the face of life-threatening situations wasn’t just about physical prowess; it was an embodiment of the brain’s capacity to rewrite its narrative.

“Many, many times I had to overcome my fears throughout my career. My fear of heights is one that I had to tackle time and time again. On one stunt, I had to traverse an extremely narrow ledge, ten stories up in a nun’s outfit! As I was halfway across the ledge I felt something tugging at my foot. I looked down and my shoelace was untied! Fear tried to bully me but I would not let it. I connected with my inner self of courage and continued on to the window that I was to climb into. It always feels so good to overcome fear.” 

Hollywood Stuntwoman- from film sets to bookshelves

From the dazzling lights of the film sets she shared with the biggest names in the film industry, Diane is now sharing bookshelves with the most prestigious names in history and her journey into eternity is just starting. Through her recently book, “Hollywood Stuntwoman,” Diane invites readers to embark on a remarkable journey into her world of heart-stopping action stunts, exhilarating adventures, and the unwavering pursuit of dreams.

“I was working on a production in Los Angeles and when we were on breaks, I was telling some wonderful stunt stories to another woman,” Diane recounts she said ‘You should write a book!’ So the seed was planted and I began taking a memoir writing class at a local college at night. Each week I had to read what I wrote to the class and they would critique it. At first I only wrote about action sequences in movies and television shows that I had done. My teacher coached me to write about me. What makes me do this dangerous work? What is my personal life like? My book began to take shape.”

The suggestion to pen her experiences into a book sparked a flame within, leading her to enrol in a memoir writing class. With each week, she navigated the process of introspection, transitioning from narrating action sequences to unveiling the motivations that drove her to take on dangerous work. 

My message to other women to encourage them to ‘Follow Your Dreams… Overcome Your Fears,’ punctuated by fabulous stunts that I performed over the years,” she shares. Her book’s launch on March 14, 2023, marked the beginning of a new chapter in Diane’s journey. 

“Since then I’ve done many speaking engagements and podcasts. People were asking if I was planning on doing an audio book. I thought that it would open up my message to a large audience that listens to books on their commute to work. I contacted the recording studio and narrated the book.”

With speaking engagements and podcasts under her belt, she found herself fielding inquiries about an audio version of her book. Recognizing the opportunity to reach a broader audience, particularly those who consume content during their commutes, Diane embarked on narrating her book. The audio book, set to launch on August 22, 2023, could bring her powerful story to life on over 100 major listening platforms like Audible.com.

The life of a stuntwoman entails confronting fears on a daily basis, a truth Diane knows all too well. Her fear of heights, a common nemesis for many, was an obstacle she constantly surmounted. “Fear tried to bully me but I would not let it” she declares. Through inner strength and unyielding determination, Diane conquered these mental barriers time and again, emerging victorious each time.

As Diane reflects on her journey, she acknowledges the shifts that have shaped the role of stuntwomen in the film industry. While progress has been made, challenges persist, from the encroachment of CGI to the looming shadow of Artificial Intelligence that threatens to replace live performers. The current strike by Screen Actors Guild Union actors and stunt performers stands as a testament to the ongoing struggle to preserve the essence of human performance in the digital age.

Diane’s journey from pursuing her dreams to becoming a seasoned professional came with its fair share of highs and lows. She shared with us a turning point that shaped her outlook on her career and life in general. This is one of the many breakthrough moment of profound realisation—a lesson learned through pain and resilience.

When I got badly injured in 1982 breaking my heel bone in five places. It was the only time I did a stunt that did not feel right to me. I was working for a well known, top stunt coordinator and he wanted me to go feet first on a high fall. I was taught never to go feet first. So I was in a dilemma. I could have said no and walked away, then my reputation would have been ruined or I could ‘go for it’. After two surgeries and a year of pain and agony. It was a painful lesson to learn.

This devastating injury in 1982 was a stark reminder of the importance of honouring her instincts. “I learned to always listen to my inner voice and to say no and walk away when it didn’t feel right,” she shares. This lesson became the cornerstone of her journey, reminding her to always trust her gut, even in the face of pressure.

Above all, Diane’s story is one of inspiration. Her audiobook is her legacy, echoing the resounding message to “follow your dreams and overcome your fears no matter what obstacles get in your way.” As listeners immerse themselves in the pages of her life, they are bound to find a remarkable source of empowerment—a true testament to the strength of the human spirit.

Reflecting on Diane’s film credits as double for hundreds of actresses like Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange, Faye Dunaway, Diane Keaton, Heather Locklear, Heather Thomas, Farrah Fawcett, Michele Pfeiffer, Kate Capshaw, we can’t help but notice that even in an industry often characterized by competition, women have the power to complement and uplift each other.

“I’ve had so many challenging stunts for leading actresses. In ‘Allan Quaterman And The Lost City of Gold”, I was doubling Sharon Stone. There was a scene where I had to leap from a miners cart over a pool of toxic bubbling gold and land on a slim protruding timber. The cart was moving very fast and if I missed the timber, I would fall about twenty feet down into a pool of bubbling toxic gold. We had a safety meeting with the on set medics. They instructed me that if I fell, I needed to keep my eyes closed and swim to where the shower was that had a detoxing solution.

My focus was only seeing the stunt going perfectly right. We did slow speed rehearsals first, then it was time to film the stunt. My heart was beating so fast on action! Just when the cart was about to plunge off the tract, I leaped to the timber, barely missing it. On cut, the entire set was cheering for me!

As the launch date for her audio book approaches, Diane’s message resonates more profoundly than ever before. It’s a message not just for those with dreams of conquering Hollywood or climbing the summit of a mountain, but for anyone battling their own fears and anxieties. 

Diane’s story carries with it the meaning of an universal truth: courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. In a world where fears often paralyse dreams, Diane Peterson shows us that it is possible to conquer the very fears that once held us back and emerge victorious on the other side. Listening to her audiobook you could get one step closer to the triumph of tenacity, the joy of embracing the unknown, and finding the courage to leap into new possibilities.

When asked what does she hope listeners will take away from “Hollywood Stuntwoman” after experiencing your journey and insights? Diane told us: “I hope readers and listeners to my book will find inspiration to follow their dreams and overcome their fears no matter what obstacles get in their way.”

Until the launch of the audiobook you could explore the pages of “Hollywood Stuntwoman” and get ready to listen to Diane’s voice recounting her extraordinary journey. Let’s remember the science behind it all: fear is not an immovable wall but a bridge to cross, a step into understanding your silent powers. Diane Peterson’s tale stands as living proof that you can rewire your brain, conquer your fears, and ultimately forge your path towards a brighter, bolder future.

Diane Peterson’s story is more than just an inspiring book—it is the proof that you can conquer your fears.

About Diane Peterson- The Courage to Live the Dream

Now an accomplished author, Diane Peterson Diane has been a professional stuntwoman for over forty years. She has worked on over two hundred movies and television shows including Titanic, Laundromat, Green Hornet, Batman Forever, Marked for Death, Out for Justice, Robocop II, Airplane, and many, many others. Television shows she has worked on include Walker, Texas Ranger, Fall Guy, Mac- Gyver, Magnum P.I., and many others.

Renowned for her expertise in the world of beach properties, Diane’s real estate adventure started in 1979 when she acquired her Real Estate license, launching a career that saw her thriving in the vibrant landscapes of Marina del Rey and Venice, specializing in beachfront properties. An alumna of the University of Miami, Diane’s educational foundation, combined with her dynamic roles as an actress and stuntwoman, has crafted a multifaceted individual whose talents extend beyond the realm of real estate.

Diane’s ties to the entertainment industry, with appearances in numerous television series and films, reflect her versatility and zest for embracing diverse passions. She cherishes the joys of companionship of a lovable French Bulldog named Paco, and revels in the serene spiritual connections nurtured as a parishioner of Our Lady of Malibu church.

A former president of the Ferrari Club of America Southwest Region, Diane nurtured her affinity for speed and luxury and invites her clients for a tour of properties in her formidable Ferrari. As a seasoned real estate professional, she is ready to guide you on a journey to “Live the Dream” in Malibu, offering not just properties but the teste of a lifestyle unlike any other. With her wealth of experience, unwavering courage, and a zest for life, Diane Peterson stands ready to inspire you to live your own dream.

Do you want to share your story and inspire our readers ? Know that every story is paving the way for a brighter, happier future.

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North America Editor
North America Editor
Articles: 21

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