Interview with The Walking Dead Stunt Double & Actress, Shellita Boxie

By Takima Bly (@emma_fRhost2)

As anticipation for season five of AMC’s The Walking Dead grew, AMC previewed Inside The Walking Dead: Walker University a few months before the start of the season. The show gave fans a look at the process of selecting potential walkers for The Walking Dead and explained their make-up and costume process. Viewers were able to see that becoming a walker and being on the set was not as easy as it looked. First of all, you have to audition for the part. Being a walker takes a lot of time on set as well as patience with effect applications. You have to be available and physically able to endure the demands of the role.

Graduating from “Walker University” means that you have the walk, the look, and have been selected to appear on set. Despite the complexities of becoming a walker, winning a role can be quite a rewarding experience. Those chosen get to become part of the number 1 horror show on television, and perhaps meet and interact with their favorite cast members.

Actress Shellita Boxie is one of the lucky and talented ones chosen to appear on the set of The Walking Dead (TWD), not only as a walker but also a stunt double. She graciously shared her exciting and inspiring experiences with us about working on the set.

What season and which episodes did you appear in?

My first time on set of TWD was season 4 episode 1 as stunt double for Michonne/Danai Gurira.  I met the coordinator, Russell Towery, just after the season 3 finale while working on set of The Last Exorcism Part 2.  He was impressed with my work and mentioned he would be coordinating the show next season and suggested I put together a stunt demo to be the newest characters double. I immediately started training with the sword and had my trainer from “A Fight Chance Studio”, Jeff Moldovan coordinate a fight scene for my demo.  He was so awesome; he created an awesome scary movie scene for my video.

I soon got the call that I had been selected to be Michonne’s stunt double.  Of course you know I lost my mind right? Day one on set, Russell says, “She is pretty comfortable doing the stunts on her own but we have you for safety.” So I say to myself, “Ok, I can deal with that. Eventually she will get tired and I’ll get some action,” (which stunt performers crave). NOT! This woman (Danai) was so bad ass and prepared for the role she was hired for. She handled that Katana like it was an extension of her body.  I stood in the wings of the set and said, “DAMN, she GOT THIS.” Stunt doubles are called in from time to time, but she handles the majority on her own.

What made you want to audition to be a walker? 

After my Michonne experience, I thought my “Walking Dead” career was over.  But, a few weeks later, the coordinator called me to be a what? Wait for it….wait for itttt…A STUNT ZOMBIE! Are you kidding me? I thought I would die. Well, eventually I did. I was a Road Walker in #4, Fence Walker in #6 and a Cornfield Walker in Episode #11, but don’t quote me on those episodes. 

How would you describe the makeup and wardrobe transformation? 

I would describe the makeup and wardrobe transformation as mind blowing. Also to my appearance and personality when I teach my 5 am boot camp class: BEASTLY.  You have to get there early, be okay with people poking, probing, picking and pulling at you from all directions. Basically, be ready for anything. It’s not pretty; literally. I remember the first time I saw myself in the mirror.  Being an actress, I began this exercise to channel the person I was before death; who I was, what I liked and how beautiful I MUST have been.  

I would try to show that character through my eyes.  That didn’t last but a hot minute before I started laughing at how even more scary I looked trying to do so. The amazing part is, as the day goes by, you forget what you and the other zombies around you look like and start to connect with personalities. Did I just say that? Ha! I’m about that life. Or should I say death.  You know I had to throw in one or two bad jokes.

What was it like on the set? 

On set is like every other day at work for me: AMAZING! It was long hours of hard core talent from the cast to the crew, doing what they love to do. Everyone was very pleasant to work with. Oh and there was Taco Thursday and ZOMBIES sitting right across from you as you eat your 3 bean chilli with holes in their heads, some with eyes falling out, some wearing their guts on the outside and others, oh sorry, I get carried away but you get it.  I played a game with myself when there was a lot of down time and I wasn’t on screen.  When my fellow stunt walkers would be on set close enough where I think they would hear, I would whisper, “Dead Man Walking, Dead Man Walking.” I hope I don’t have to explain that.

Did you get a chance to meet or interact with any of the cast?  

On all the sets I’ve work on, I have had the pleasure to meet and sometimes interact with many of the other cast members.  I mostly chat with them during lunch or in the makeup trailer.  Other than that, we are all focused on the job at hand.

What did you enjoy most about being a walker? 

What I enjoyed most about being a walker was seeing how they transformed me into a zombie. The special effects make-up team and the wardrobe team are to die for. A few of my proudest moments was having one of the producers say to me while I was scoffing down food at craft services, “Shellita, we really enjoy watching you work.” That really touched my heart. Another moment I enjoyed was watching Talking Dead and saying how wonderful it would be if I ever made it to that show. Immediately after those words left my mouth, BAM! There I was. 

Last but not least, my proudest ZOMBIE moment was receiving my certificate in the mail for being nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for the Best Stunt Ensemble for The Walking Dead. I believe when something is meant for me, it will be. A few people thought I should be bummed when I didn’t get called back to be a regular double for Danai but I wasn’t.  I knew that I would be a part of the show and the best part was, I played my own character.

For more information about this awesome actress, model, and personal trainer you can find her on:

K. Bly is an expert on book reviews that spotlight girls and women, of color, characters in the horror, sci-fi, and suspense genres of literature, in novels and comic books. You can find her on both Twitter (@emma_fRhost2) and Instagram (@game_of_rhos)

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