Austin Arizpe had dabbled in stunt work enough in Texas and New Orleans to know that he liked it. In fact, he decided to make it his next career, after an injury had ended his time as a dancer, with classical ballet training and musical theater experience.
So, he wondered: Go West to Hollywood, where he was told the competition was stifling and it might take a decade to make any progress? Or head slightly East to Georgia, where the film and TV industry has been exploding in opportunity?
It was an easy call, and Austin, now 28, hasn’t looked back.
His first stunt job in Atlanta, on the show “Queens” with rapper Eve, earned Austin his SAG union card, a huge step that can be frustratingly elusive.
“It’s worked out ever since,” says Austin, who was recently in the cast of the HBO Max competition series “Finding Magic Mike,” a spinoff of the Channing Tatum movie series about male strippers.
It was filmed in Las Vegas, and Austin was eliminated fairly quickly, despite his clearly superior dance skills. And it was that dance training (his parents were both professional ballet dancers) that led him into stunt work. After Austin recovered from his accident, his manager called with a job possibility to choreograph some fight scenes — and the transition turned out to be not only logical, but also easier on his body than high-level dancing had been.
In Georgia, Austin has worked steadily on the “Legacies” series, performing horseback stunts for the star Matt Davis. He’s in talks with a big studio about several possibilities. And he continues to do location work – anything, he says, to keep him close to the action of making movies.
“The amount of jobs that filming brings to Georgia is incredible,” he says. “We’re doing much better than LA. There’s a lot more opportunity here.”
Even during the pandemic – when he had to return home to Texas for a few months – “Atlanta has been pushing through and flourishing.”
Georgia, he says, is building the infrastructure to become the new Hollywood.
“I love the people, I love the city, I love how it’s a blend of the South and the industry,” he says. “I’m in a really happy medium. And I can afford to pay my rent here.”