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As a gymnast for the Utah Utes, Kristina Baskett always imagined she'd have a future behind the camera, not in front of it, as she had plans to turn her photography hobby into a career.
But Baskett, who became one of Utah's most popular gymnasts in recent history when she starred for the Utes from 2006-2009, is still front and center in the camera lens. You probably just don't recognize her.
Baskett, who earned 12 All-America honors for the Utes, is enjoying a rising career as a stunt double. So far, her résumé includes appearances in a Nationwide Insurance TV commercial as she flips and turns her way through a house as a sort of anti-cat burglar, acting as a stand-in for actress Jana Kramer; an appearance in TV Shows "CSI New York," "American Horror Story: Coven," and "Grimm;" an Under Armour commercial; and several appearances in various Disney productions.
"I can't believe how my life has taken this turn," Baskett said from her home in Los Angeles. "I never imagined I would be here doing this kind of thing. When I stop to think about it, I realize how lucky I am."
Not that Baskett really has much time to just sit and ponder life. The 26-year-old is busier than ever. When she isn't acting, she is training or learning new tricks to help her become more marketable in Hollywood.
Her latest hobby? Picking up some more martial arts skills.
"My specialty is gymnastics and acrobatic and wire work, but I want to do more martial arts," she said. "I love doing the high falls and the fighting scenes and I'm learning more tactical weapons training with guns so that I can get to that top level. I'm having to learn to play field hockey, too. The more things you can do the more marketable you are. There are so many things people will call me and ask me to do that I never imagined doing, but I love it."
Baskett's break into Hollywood came after a stint in the Las Vegas production, "Le Reve." Roles in such shows are common for former gymnasts due to the acrobatic demands.
But a nice post-college gig turned into much more for Baskett as Hollywood came calling.
She was asked to participate in more parts, such as the ABC show "Make it or Break it" and Cirque Du Soleil's "Viva Elvis."
Eventually she moved to Los Angeles and committed to a Hollywood career full-time. Going big-time was a huge adjustment for the small-town girl from Normandy Park, Wash.
"It was a scary decision. I never thought I would be happy in a place like L.A., but I embraced it and followed my gut and it has paid off," Baskett said. "The parts I've had have given me a taste of what acting could be like, and I want more."
Baskett might be surprised by her success, but Utah co-coach Megan Marsden isn't. Baskett was a fan favorite for her entertaining routines, and that Hollywood saw that special element in her was to be expected, Marsden said.
"She is the kind of kid who isn't afraid to work hard and she has got talent," Marsden said. "She is someone I wouldn't be surprised to see on some red carpet somewhere in a few years."
Baskett can't talk about her ongoing projects due to the shows' privacy rights, but expect to see more of her soon, if you can recognize her. As a stunt double, Baskett doesn't always get the credit not that she minds.
She might be in Hollywood, but she still has some of that small-town humble charm.
"I love playing all the different roles and being behind the scenes," she said. I love playing a part and making the actress look good in the final product and everyone loving it. I get to do all the cool stuff everyone wants to do."
Kristina Baskett file
• Competed at Utah from 2006-09.
• Finished her career as a 12-time All-American.
• Won the 2006 NCAA uneven bars title.
• Finished second on the vault at the NCAAs in 2008 and second in the all-around at the 2009 NCAAs.
• Her 88 career wins rank fourth all-time at Utah.
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