Which festivals are happening in Birmingham in 2021?

Do Dah Day 2016

Do Dah Day is set for May 15, 2021, at Cahaba Brewing Co. in Birmingham.(AL.com file photo/Joe Songer)


Status: Set for May 15 at Cahaba Brewing Co., 4500 Fifth Ave. South, Building C. Event runs 11 a.m.-6 p.m., according to the festival’s Facebook page. Other details TBA.

Event features: Pet parade and festival with live music. Proceeds benefit animal charities and shelters in the Birmingham area.

Organizers said: “Normally ... Do Dah Day is held in Birmingham’s historic Southside parks. The event will not be in the parks this year due to the pandemic, but we will still have a live, in-person event! ... We will have a parade this year but it will be a bit different ... it will be a reverse parade. Stay tuned for details on how to register your float and how it will all work,” the festival website says.

FYI: A reverse parade typically means the parade participants assemble along a certain route and remain stationary, while spectators stay in cars and drive ( or “parade”) past them.

Also: Do Dah Eve is planned for May 14, details TBA.


Status: May 23 at Avondale Brewing Company, 201 41st St. South. Event runs 12 p.m.-5 p.m.

Event features: Live music, beer, food and family-friendly activities. On the lineup: AJ Beavers, Dead Fingers and Early James and the Latest.

Admission: $10-$50. Proceeds benefit educational programs and projects at the Southern Environmental Center and Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.

Alabaster CityFest has been canceled for 2021.

Alabaster CityFest is canceled in 2021, but organizers said the festival will return next year.(AL.com file photo/Mark Almond)


Status: Canceled this year, set for June 4, 2022, on the grounds of Thompson High School in Alabaster.

Event features: Live music, vendors, amusement park rides and children’s activities.

Organizers said: A March 2 announcement on the festival website reads:

“Though we had hoped to return in June 2021, there are still significant roadblocks to hosting successful events in the coming months, especially from a planning perspective,” says Adam Moseley, president of the Alabaster Arts Council. “We may be much further along in recovering from the pandemic by June, but CityFest preparation takes many months, and the COVID-19 crisis hasn’t allowed us to move forward with concrete plans.”

Social distancing guidelines and recommendations for crowds and capacity are also impediments to return, especially given the expectation of crowd size at this event. “Some events are ticketed and allow for social distancing and capacity measures, but we are determined to keep the event free and available to everyone, so that makes capacity an issue,” says Jamie Cole, Arts Council Vice President. Cole also works with media and artist relations for the event, and says, “Promotion time is limited from a media standpoint, and many artists just aren’t booking events of this type right now, limiting our potential for headlining acts.”


Birmingham's SliceFest didn't happen in 2020. A date for this year is still pending. (SliceFest website photo)


Status: New date TBA. Festival never officially canceled last year, but didn’t happen in 2020.

Event features: Live music, pizza and beer outside Slice Pizza & Brewhouse, 725 29th St. South. The festival typically stretches along 29th Street South, creating a high-powered block party in Birmingham’s Lakeview neighborhood.

St. Elias Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival 04.16.12

The St. Elias Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival is set for June 11-12, 2021, at St. Elias Maronite Catholic Church in Birmingham. (AL.com file photo/Michelle Campbell)


Status: Set for June 11-12 at St. Elias Maronite Catholic Church, 836 Eighth St. South. The event runs 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, according to the church website.

Event features: Menu items typically range from Lebanese doughnuts to spinach pies to baked kibbeh sandwiches. Food will be available this year for drive-thru or takeout only.

Also: An online auction and other virtual events (including church tours) are planned. Details TBA.

Admission: Free; menu items typically run $1-$20. Twenty-five percent of festival proceeds go to charity, the church website says.


Status: Set for June 11-12 at Strand Park in Alexander City and Lake Martin Amphitheater in Eclectic.

Event features: Live music, acts and other details TBA.

Admission: Free.

Our Lady of Sorrows Fourth of July Barbecue and Festival

Our Lady of Sorrows Fourth of July Barbecue and Festival is held at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Birmingham. The 2020 event focused on barbecue to go.(AL.com file photo/Tamika Moore)


Status: Info for this year’s event hasn’t been announced, but the festival traditionally happens on July 4 at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, 1728 Oxmoor Road, Homewood.

Event features: Thousands of pounds of slow-cooked barbecue: ribs, half chicken pieces, hot dogs, smoked sausage, pork sandwiches and side dishes. Last year’s event focused on barbecue to go.

Secret Stages 2017

Secret Stages is set for Aug. 6-7, 2021, in Birmingham. al.com


Status: Set for Aug. 6-7, location TBA. Last year’s event, which was canceled due to COVID, was planned for the Avondale entertainment district.

Event features: Billed as a “music discovery festival” that aims to introduce audiences to music acts chosen for their quality, interest and and cutting-edge appeal.

Tickets: TBA.

Luke Combs

Country star Luke Combs is on the lineup for Rock the South 2021 in Cullman, Alabama.(Zack Massey/Courtesy of Rock the South)


Status: Set for Aug. 13-14, on about 140 acres at 1872 Cullman County 469 in Cullman.

Event features: Country-pop, Southern rock and traditional country music. This year’s lineup features Luke Combs, Nelly, Miranda Lambert, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ashley McBryde and more.

Admission: $99.99 general admission, $169.99 Platinum, $329.99 VIP, $629.99 Ultimate VIP, sold out for Front Porch Seating. These are “Super Early Bird” prices for two-day tickets, most of which will increase closer to the festival dates. Various perks are included with the upper ticket levels, such as seating, air-conditioned restrooms, private bars and a separate entrance at the gate. Weekend parking passes cost $50 apiece this year. RV parking is $550; car camping is $150. Part of the proceeds from Rock the South go to charity.

Sidewalk Film Festival

The Sidewalk Film Festival is set for Aug. 23-29, 2021, in Birmingham. (Tamika Moore/tmoore@al.com)


Status: Set for Aug. 23-29, details TBA.

Event features: Screenings of narrative features, documentaries, shorts and more.

Organizers said: A statement on the festival website reads:

“Amidst the wild uncertainty of this past year, Sidewalk made the active decision to host a scaled-down, socially-distanced, 100 percent drive-in version of the festival at the Grand River Drive-In in Leeds, AL. Despite the successes of this brand-new venture, it is our hope and priority to safely return to the beloved historical theater district in downtown Birmingham, Alabama that has been the home of Sidewalk for the past 22 years. As we gear up for the 23rd Annual festival in August 2021, the Sidewalk team continues to monitor both state and local guidelines pertaining to large events with the full intention of hosting as ‘normal’ a festival as possible.”

Paul Janeway

St. Paul and the Broken Bones is set to perform at the Foothills Festival in 2021.(Amy Harris/Invision/AP)


Status: Set for Sept. 10-11 at courthouse square and entertainment district of downtown Jasper. Hours are 6 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday, noon-10:30 p.m. Saturday.

Event features: Live music, food and vendors. This year’s lineup features St. Paul & the Broken Bones, the Steel Woods, Dirty Honey and more.

Admission: Free. See the FAQs on the festival website for more info.

Saint George Middle Eastern Food Festival

The Saint George Middle Eastern Food Festival is set for Sept. 23-25, 2021, in Birmingham.(AL.com file photo/Jeff Roberts)


Status: Set for Sept. 23-25 at Saint George Melkite Greek Catholic Church, 425 16th Ave. South.

Event features: Menu of Middle Eastern favorites such as baked kibbe, stuffed grape leaves, Mediterranean-style chicken, falafel, meat pies, spinach pies and pastries.

Admission: Menu items typically range from $1 to $18. Part of the proceeds goes to charity.

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Mountain Brook could get 3 entertainment districts under new legislation

A bill that passed the Alabama House of Representatives would create three Mountain Brook entertainment districts.

The Senate had its first reading of the bill March 30. It’s now before the Jefferson County Local Legislation Committee.

The bill would give the Mountain Brook City Council authority to set boundaries for three districts - English Village, Mountain Brook Village and Crestline Village.

State Rep. David Faulkner (R-Mountain Brook) is the sponsor. Mountain Brook’s council requested the legislation last December.

Under Alabama Law, the entertainment district designation allows participating businesses with liquor licenses to sell alcohol to be consumed off-premises within the boundaries of the district and within its hours of operation.

Birmingham, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, Hoover and Mobile are among cities with them.


11 awesome May events in Birmingham including Do Dah Day

Photo via @thewholedog_homewood

After a long pandemic-filled year, events are gaining momentum as May soars in. Plan now because you won’t want to miss what’s ahead in Birmingham.

1. We Love Homewood Day + Parade  

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Photo via Patience Itson for Bham Now

If you don’t already love the city of Homewood, you will after the We Love Homewood Day + Parade event. Discover entertainment like rides games and inflatables at the beautiful Homewood Central Park.

But that’s not all. Stick around after the event for the annual We Love Homewood Day Parade. The parade begins at 6PM at Homewood Library and travels west on Oxmoor Road to the Edgewood Business District.

When: Saturday, May 1, 10AM-4PM (Parade begins at 6PM)
Where: Homewood Central Park, 1632 Oxmoor Rd, Homewood, AL 35209 
Price: FREE for festival entry | $15 for unlimited attractions wristband | Individual attraction tickets can be purchased at each attraction


2. AWS Fest

An exciting fundraiser is underway. Benefiting Alabama Waldorf School, AWS Fest, is a radio-style benefit concert that takes place virtually on May 1. Here’s what’s in store:

Listen to music from bands and DJs like:

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Order food and drinks from El Barrio Restaurante and Harvest Roots Ferments. 10% of sales support AWS.

Bid in a silent auction on items like a guitar, concert memorabilia and more. Anyone can bid. No tickets required. Auction opens Friday, April 30.

When: Saturday, May 1, 5-7PM
Where: Virtual
Price: $15

3. Cullman Strawberry Festival 

The annual Cullman Strawberry Festival is one of the oldest Strawberry Festivals in Alabama and it’s back again on May 1.

With well over a dozen activities, here’s some of what to expect:

  • Arts & Crafts Show
  • Cornhole Tournament
  • Farmers Market
  • Food Vendors
  • Historic Walking Tour
  • Kids Carnival
  • Live music
  • Magic Show
  • Strawberry Eating Contest

Where: Festhalle Farmer’s Market and  Depot, 209 1st Ave NE, Cullman, AL 35055
When: Saturday, May 1, 10AM-9PM

UAB Callahan Eye Hospital

4. Donor Dash for Life 5K benefiting Legacy of Hope

Legacy of Hope
Photo via Legacy of Hope’s Facebook

Get ready to run during Legacy of Hope’s Donor Dash for Life 5K. The event celebrates organ donors and recipients, living donors, caregivers and all advocates.

When: Saturday, May 1, 9AM
Where: Veteran’s Park, 4800 Valleydale Rd, Meadowbrook, AL 35242
Price: $40

UAB Callahan Eye Hospital

5. Regions Tradition

The Watering Hole at the Regions Tradition
The Watering Hole at the 2019 Regions Tradition. Photo via Regions

Grab your tickets and head to the green, the Regions Tradition is back this year, May 5-9. As part of the PGA Tour Champions tours, you’ll get to see some of the top golfers in the country show off their skills, all while enjoying food, drinks and more.

When: Wednesday-Sunday, May 5-9
Where: Greystone Golf and Country Club, 4100 Greystone Dr, Birmingham, AL 35242

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6. Spring 2021 Native Plant Sale

Photo via Beth Cunningham for Bham Now

Celebrate your love for plants during the Spring 2021 Native Plant Sale at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, Saturday-Sunday, May 8-9.

Not only will you have the chance to discover 100 plant varieties—and buy them!—but you can also check out Turkey Creek’s brand-new Education Pavilion.


Learn more here.

When: Saturday-Sunday, May 8-9, Sat 10AM-4PM, Sun Noon-4PM
Where: Turkey Creek Preserve, 3906 Turkey Creek Rd, Pinson, AL 35126

7. Darter Festival

Southern Environmental Center
Don’t miss Darter Fest at Cahaba Brewing. Photo via Southern Environmental Center’s Facebook
UAB Callahan Eye Hospital

Want to support Turkey Creek Nature Preserve even further? Make plans to attend their annual Darter Festival on Sunday, May 23.

Hosted by the Southern Environmental Center, the festival supports the educational programs of Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.

This year’s festival will be held outside at Avondale Brewing and feature:

  • Live music from AJ Beavers, Deadfingers, Early James and the Latest  + more
  • Food + drinks
  • Socially-distanced family fun
Central Six - Alabama Works

When: Sunday, May 23
Where: Avondale Brewing Company, 201 41st St S, Birmingham, AL 35222
Price: $10-$50

8. Creek Bank Festival

Leeds Creek Bank Festival
Photo via Leeds Creek Bank Festival’s Facebook

For a fun-filled festival, head to Leeds on May 15 for the 26th Annual Creek Bank Festival. Here’s what’s in store:

  • Live music performances from award-winner singer/songwriter Michael Jacobs + Birmingham-based singer/songwriter Erica Ryleigh
  • Children’s activities like hula hoop contests, face painting + arts and crafts
  • Food trucks and vendors from across the Southeast
  • Creek Bark Dog Pagent
  • Bake My Day Bake Off Competition

When: Saturday, May 15, 10AM-4PM
Where: Leeds Memorial Park, 801 Helen St, Leeds, AL 35094
Price: FREE

9. Do Dah Day 

Birmingham, Do Dah Day, dogs, animals, pets
Doggie smiles during Do Dah Day in Birmingham. Photo via @dodahday

Can’t get enough of those furry faces and wagging tails? Then grab your dog and attend Do Dah Day—one of Birmingham’s longest-running festivals. No doubt, one of the cutest, too!

Cahaba Brewing is hosting this year’s event. Expect music, drinks, food and, of course, lots of doggy smiles.

Though there won’t be the traditional parade, there will be a reverse parade on 3rd Avenue S beside the brewery.

When: Saturday, May 15,11:01AM-6:01PM
Where: Cahaba Brewing Company, 4500 5th Ave S, Building C, Birmingham, AL 35222
Price: $5 in advance | $8 at the door

10. Spring Serenades with Alabama Symphony Orchestra

Photo via ASO

Streaming now through June 2021 via Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s website, the Spring Serenades concert series offers access to several exciting concerts. Each feature ASO artists and conductors performing in socially distanced ensembles.

The concerts are only available for a limited time only. Mark your calendar, set an alarm or do whatever it takes so you ensure you tune in. 

See Khan play tag at the BIrmingham Zoo

When: Now-June 2021
Where: Virtual
Price: FREE
Donate to ASO here
Watch the Spring Serenades concert series here

11. Mardi Gras Reclaimed benefiting Easterseals

Easterseals Birmingham
Get ready for Mardi Gras Reclaimed 2021. Photo via Easterseals of the Birmingham Area’s Facebook

One word: Mardi Gras. It may have been a bit dull during the pandemic, but Easterseals is celebrating it in an all-new way this May with their Mardi Gras Reclaimed event.

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The three-part event features:

  • Virtual Fun Run (Saturday, May 17-Saturday, May 22)
  • Golf Tournament (Saturday, May 22)
  • Dinner discounts to local restaurants

Golf ticket includes:

  • Pack of beers
  • Snack bag
  • Redmont Vodka Transfusion upon check-in
  • Vulcan Gin & Tonic on the turn
  • Old Forester Bourbon tasting on hole #11
  • Dinner coupons for local restaurants
  • Chance to win a Mercedes-Benz with a hole in one
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When: Saturday, May 17-Saturday, May 22
Where: Highland Park Golf Course, 3300 Highland Ave, Birmingham, AL 35205

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The fog clears, the music intensifies and Sadiqua Bynum gets to work. Wearing a black, hooded trench coat, she fires a single shot from a gun in her right hand before leaping onto the bed of a pickup truck, where an armed masked man awaits. When he tries to escape, she chases him into a bunkhouse, her gun drawn.

This is Bynum’s superhero moment, even though you can’t see her face as she cartwheels through the air and throws her nemesis to the ground. The gun is fake and the villain is an actor, but the action is real.

After a decorated gymnastics career at UCLA, Bynum, a three-time All-American, has jumped into the Hollywood stunt world and works as a double for Regina King in HBO’s “Watchmen.” The 26-year-old is one of the youngest and most successful black stuntwomen in an industry that is just beginning to experience the trickle-down effect of efforts to increase diversity in all of Hollywood.

Being a stuntwoman, she says, is the perfect job. “I’m constantly thinking that I have the ability ... to bring a different element to film and bring the skills that I have and make them bigger.”

In “Watchmen,” King portrays Angela Abar, a Tulsa, Okla., cop whose alter ego is Sister Night, a masked vigilante. She makes a show of retiring from police work to open a bakery but remains active on the force and in her secret identity. Sister Night wears a black cloak, covers her mouth with a mask and obscures her eyes with black spray paint as she assists the local police force. She’s a human who excels at combat.

la-col1-03me-Sadiqua-Bynum .JPG
Sadiqua Bynum dodges a bat-wielding attacker while performing as the stunt double for Regina King, in back, who stars as Angela Abar and her robed alter ego, Sister Night, in HBO’s “Watchmen.” 
(Mark Hill / HBO)

Although the TV show, which airs its season finale Dec. 15, is inspired by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ 1986-87 comic book series, the Sister Night character was created specifically for the HBO series. Bynum’s cartwheels and kicks help Angela Abar transcend her civilian persona: a mother of three trying to open a bakery.

Bynum, who graduated in 2016, has a stunt resume that includes appearances in “American Horror Story,” and the movies “Black Panther” and “Rampage.” But “Watchmen,” HBO’s most watched new series since “Big Little Lies,” has been a game changer.

After “Watchmen” wrapped, she landed a small role in “Richard Jewell,” the Clint Eastwood-directed drama, scheduled for release Dec. 13, about the security guard accused of setting off a bomb at the 1996 Olympics. In the film, which was shot in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, where the original bombing took place, Bynum portrays one of the people standing closest to the explosive device.

Thom Williams, who worked on both projects, knew he wanted to work with her again after seeing her work in “Watchmen.”

One of two stunt coordinators on the “Watchmen” pilot, Williams “discovered” Bynum when he came across a short highlight reel of her performing parkour-type stunts. He was dazzled by her ability to leapfrog over mats and transition smoothly into seemingly effortless flips. She combined power with grace and had an athletic build that would match King’s.

Bynum, Williams said, was perfect for Sister Night.

“A lot of times when you’re watching women’s gymnastics, it’s so beautiful and graceful, and Sadiqua had that,” said Williams, who worked with veteran stunt coordinator Doug Coleman on the pilot. “But she also had this insane power behind it.”

la-col1-01me-Sadiqua-Bynum .JPG
Sadiqua Bynum performs a floor routine when she was a UCLA gymnast. 
(Don Liebig / UCLA Athletics)

At UCLA, Bynum started as a walk-on. As a fifth-year senior, she ranked in the top eight nationally in floor exercise at the end of the regular season, earning her first-team All-American honors.

Her winning routine began with a double backflip with her body straight before landing on the mat with a glowing smile. Though gymnasts typically tumble from corner to corner, later in the routine Bynum executed a double tuck pass (two backflips with her knees to her chest) down the side of the mat, a much shorter distance. She generated the necessary power from just a single step.

That same power is evident in each episode of “Watchmen.” Justin Riemer, the stunt coordinator who took over after the pilot, points to the way Bynum runs on the set — as if she’s starting a tumbling pass or bounding down the vault runway.



Bynum flexed her superhero muscles early. As a toddler who started gymnastics at age 2, she wowed coaches at a local rec center by holding her weight up on the still rings with her elbows bent and hands by her ears. At 3, she lifted a couch while looking for something in the living room. The gymnastics classes at the rec center were intended for children up to the age of 8, but Bynum had completed them all by the time she was 4½.

She joined a gymnastics club in Emeryville, Calif., and progressed through the ranks, always practicing, no matter where she was. In preschool, she pulled herself up on tree branches as if she was performing a bar routine. (Teachers begged her parents to get her to stop because other kids were trying to imitate her stunts and they were falling out of trees.) She did floor routines down the aisles at grocery stores.

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Bynum’s club career culminated in 2011 when she placed fifth in the all-around competition at the Level 10 state championships, the highest level of competition before elite (Olympic level) gymnastics.

But talent wasn’t the only thing that separated her from the rest of her peers.

In a sport in which competitors are predominantly white, Bynum recalls being one of maybe three or four black people in her gym while she was growing up.

“That was one of the things that made gymnastics really hard at times,” she said. “There were times when you realize you’re working really, really, really hard and the girl next to you is working not as hard but she’s getting coached more or she’s getting the praises and all that, and you’re over here like, ‘Why am I not getting the praises?’”

According to a 2007 study by USA Gymnastics , nearly three-quarters of about 19,000 gymnasts surveyed were white; only 6.61% were black. In 2009, only 7.6% of female Division I gymnasts were black, according to the NCAA. That number increased to 9.5% in 2018. Women’s gymnastics didn’t have a black Olympic all-around champion until 2012, when Gabby Douglas took the title. Four years later Simone Biles became the second black woman to win the title, and she is now the most decorated gymnast in the sport.

Bynum was adopted by white parents, and her older brother and sister were also adopted. She was always aware of diversity, she said, starting with her own family.


Conversations with her mother, Louisa, and club coach Katreece Roberts, who is black, helped keep Bynum focused.

“We spent a lot of time emphasizing that you don’t have to compare yourself” against other gymnasts, Louisa said. “You just have to be the best you, you can be.”

Bynum continues to carry that message into her stunt career, where women and performers of color still work under the shadow of “wigging” — when male stunt performers wear wigs to perform as women — and “paint-downs” — when white actors are painted and perform as people of color.

Though both practices are condemned by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, they aren’t obsolete. In 2014, Warner Bros. hired a white stuntwoman for a black actress on the Fox TV show “Gotham,” before inquiries from Deadline prompted the studio to recast the stunt performer. Veteran stuntwoman Deven MacNair filed a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission in 2017 after a 2016 incident in which she saw a stuntman wearing a wig double for Kate Bosworth on the set of “The Domestics.” The stunt coordinator claimed the stunt was “too unsafe” for a woman, according to the complaint.

“That’s what motivates me to be able to be as well-rounded as I can,” Bynum said. “I don’t want someone to be able to say, ‘We don’t have a black stuntwoman that can do this.’”

Given her gymnastics background, Bynum specializes in flips, but she is expanding her repertoire. Dave Macomber, the fight coordinator for “Watchmen,” worked with her on fighting skills by running the 5-foot-5 gymnast through boxing drills with gloves and bags.

Sadiqua Bynum’s gymnastic skills have served her well as a stuntwoman.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

She’s learned to ride bareback, controlling a galloping horse with one hand while holding props with the other. After taking special stunt driving courses, she practices in open warehouse parking lots. Curious security guards sometimes watch from afar as she burns tire marks into the concrete. Other times they politely ask her to leave.

She admits that expanding her skills isn’t always enough to translate into confidence as she navigates the hyper-competitive stunt world. Her body — lean, muscular, with strong shoulders and sculpted legs — was built through years of gymnastics, but she hears whispers among other stuntwomen that skinnier performers can be more successful because they conform with the actresses typically cast in movies and TV. At times, Bynum has wondered if she should try to lose her muscles to get better roles.

Her older sister Zoe will have none of it.

“She has a great body,” said Zoe, who is three years older than Bynum. “Anybody would want that body, and people that hate on that body, you don’t need them in your life.”

“As long as I’m comfortable in my own skin and I’m doing what I can to be happy with how I look, then work will come if it’s there,” Bynum said. “And if not, if I’m too muscular for [an] actress, then I’ll find someone else who I fit better with.”

King, 48, said in an email that she made it clear to the “Watchmen” team that she wanted a stunt double who matched her body type and her running style. “They heard me and found Sadiqua,” the Oscar winner said. “We met, and we knew we were the perfect fit.”

Williams said he encountered Bynum’s demo reel on the @StuntPOC Instagram account. It was created by Jwaundace Candece, who was the driving double for King in “Watchmen,” in an effort to provide exposure for qualified stunt performers of color in the United States and Canada. The Stunt POC website lists more than 200 stunt performers, coordinators and directors.

“What I have found in the last couple years, which is really encouraging, is there’s more training opportunities, there’s more people going out there and busting their butts and working hard and making their abilities better and better,” Williams said. “So now we do have a much larger pool to draw from.”


As Bynum was preparing for graduation in 2016, she was looking into different jobs in fields such as sales or networking. She’d majored in sociology and at one point thought she might become a social worker — but eventually she decided she couldn’t stand sitting behind a desk all day. Former UCLA assistant gymnastics coach Randy Lane suggested that she might think about stunts, a path pursued by many other former Bruins.

Heidi Moneymaker, who graduated in 1999 and has more than 80 stunt credits to her name, doubled for Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in the Marvel movies. Vanessa Zamarripa, a 19-time All-American at UCLA, worked on “Terminator: Dark Fate.” Natalie Padilla, a 2008 UCLA graduate who worked on “Wonder Woman” and “Justice League,” broke into stunts by performing on the ABC Family gymnastics show “Make It or Break It,” and gave Bynum advice on how to get started.

When Williams came across Bynum’s highlight reel, he called Padilla for background information — and she gave her fellow UCLA gymnastics alumna a rave review.

Bynum impressed the stunt coordinators on the set of “Watchmen” with her ability to pick up choreography quickly. During her first major fight scene of the series, Bynum cartwheels over her target’s arm, lands on her feet, and then throws a man — who must be 100 pounds heavier than she is — onto the ground as she rolls to her back. After watching different videos for reference, Bynum had the sequence down in five minutes.

“Sadiqua is a peerless athlete, No. 1,” said Macomber, the fight coordinator. She “can move and she picks up on things so well and so fast. She’s relatively new to the stunt industry … but her ability to mimic is really, really fantastic.”

Starting out, Bynum’s biggest challenge may have been overcoming a gymnast’s need for precision. After 20 years of having perfectly straight legs in gymnastics, she needed to learn how to perform “dirty” — no one points their toes as they’re thrown across a living room or capturing bad guys.

Sadiqua Bynum’s growing stunt career includes work in the movies “Black Panther” and “Richard Jewell” as well as TV’s “American Horror Story” and “Watchmen.”
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Bynum’s face lights up when she talks about her work. She played her own character in “Black Panther,” running through the fields of Wakanda as Dora Milaje, one of the fictional country’s female warriors. But she calls “Watchmen” more meaningful because she was “part of something that was building a character.”

Even if Sister Night doesn’t have superhuman powers, Bynum said, she cherishes the opportunity to portray a strong female character who fights. She’s noticed an increase in the number of films featuring women of color such as “Harriet” and “Queen & Slim” and hopes there will be even more roles for her. Those who have worked with her are sure of it.

“She’s going to be a rock star,” Macomber said. “I have no doubt. [She’s] going to be so in demand, she’s never going to stop working.”