Inspiring story of a true survivor
Ky Furneaux remembers wanting to be just like Robinson Crusoe when she grew up. There were “no Barbie doll princess dreams” like other girls she knew. Instead, she was running wild in her rural surrounds and riding horses through the bush for fun.
But life changed in an instant for Ky when, at age 19, she was the passenger in a car that collided with a pole at high speed, leaving her with a fractured vertebra in her spine.
She spent three months lying flat on her back, staring at four walls and facing a crushing medical diagnosis that she would never be physically active again.
Fast forward to today and Ky credits that adversity with putting her on the path to an incredible life – one that saw her crowned as the number one stuntwoman in the world.
She recalls channelling the positive energy from loved ones who believed she could disprove the diagnosis and setting her mind on living a big, adventure-filled life that would fuel her soul.
“I feel like the accident was the best thing that ever could have happened to me even though it was one of the worst that had happened,” she says from her parent’s Torquay home where she is currently residing.
“I was kind of floating through life, I was doing a bachelor of business management but it really wasn’t my passion.
“I realised that happiness and getting joy out of what you were doing was probably the most important thing because you never know when that can be taken away from you.
“I know people say it takes an accident or a confronting situation to make you realise that and I was just very fortunate that it happened to me so young.
“I knew I didn’t want to be stuck inside ever again.”
Ky turned to rock climbing during her recovery and became a hiking guide.
One day a young participant commented that she should be a stuntwoman and the idea stuck.
She visited her sister in Canada where many movies were being made at the time and then spent three years working hard on the stunt performance craft.
She never looked back – as her impressive resume attests.
Ky performed as a stunt double for the likes of Sharon Stone, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Garner and Toni Collette and worked alongside Chris Hemsworth, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Hopkins and Hugh Jackman.
Her work can be seen in blockbuster films such as Thor, Pirates of Caribbean, X-Men, The Avengers and Elektra.
In 2012 she won the World Taurus Stunt Award for The Best Female Stunt Performer for her work doubling the role of Lady Sif on Thor.
“To win it was just bigger than I could have dreamed of,” Ky says.
“Especially at a time when women’s stunt sequences were only just beginning to be comparable to men’s sequences.
“I got to do some of the biggest wire stunts in that movie other than Thor himself so it was such an amazing opportunity to be a character that was so strong and fought alongside the male characters.”
Ky also stepped out from behind the scenes to produce and document a 100-mile hike across the Sierra Nevada where she survived in the wilds carrying only a pocket knife.
It led to other opportunities such as motivational speaking, publishing books including Girls Guide to Survival and being part of Discovery Channel’s hugely popular Naked and Afraid series where she endured brutal physical and mental challenges including spending 21 days in the Amazon on her own with only a knife.
“That one changed me more than anything in my life – I walked out of the Amazon after 21 days alone knowing that nothing could phase me again,” she recalls.
“Naked and Afraid is just an incredible show about how amazing the human mind can be to overcome what’s going on in a very extreme environment.”
Ky’s latest challenge has been lockdown and while she admits to being a little like “a caged animal” it has provided the ideal conditions to bunker down on the Surf Coast for a while and work on her upcoming book.
Meanwhile, her most recent TV series, Outback Lockdown, is performing well on Netflix in the UK and other projects are on the horizon depending on pandemic restrictions.
“Who knows where those opportunities will lead but whatever I do I like to be spontaneous and see what adventures happen,” Ky says.
“I choose not to be afraid of the things I can’t change. It does take practice but a lot of what we focus on that brings us sadness or creates fear are ‘what ifs’.
“Constantly being outside my comfort zone creates the ability to have a comfort zone anywhere.
“Human beings are capable of far more than they would ever believe is possible.
“Hopefully my passion for adventure inspires others.”
Follow Ky’s adventures on Instagram @kyfurneaux.