UAE Famous: Meet Emirates' Burj Khalifa stuntwoman, Nicole Smith-Ludvik
UAE Famous is a What’s On page focusing on people out there making the scene. They’re out there around town, making noise, doing cool stuff and shaping the UAE into what it is.
We asked them what’s good in the UAE. We asked them what’s bad in the UAE. We asked them to tell us more, more, more about their wonderful selves…
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Who are you and what made you famous?
I am Nicole Smith-Ludvik. I would like to think that my chocolate chip cookies could make me famous, but you may not have tried those. You’ve probably seen me in a commercial recently. I am the professional skydiver and stuntwoman in the viral Emirates ad standing atop the Burj Khalifa.
How long have you lived in the UAE and what inspired you to move here?
I have lived in Dubai for just over five years. I moved here to be with my husband and to work as a skydiving instructor for Skydive Dubai.
How did you get into stunt work and skydiving?
This is a fun question! I did my first tandem skydive in 2007 and, in 2011, I became a licensed skydiver. After some life-changing setbacks, I quit my corporate job to pursue a life as a professional skydiving instructor. As a professional skydiver, I have travelled the world attending skydiving events, conducting seminars, and performing high-profile demonstrations, stunts, and collaborations.
What does your day-to-day job look like?
Skydiving is different every day. Some days have ups and downs (hahaha that’s a bad skydiving joke)! Most days, I teach people how to skydive, whether they are learning how to do it by themselves or I am taking them on a tandem (a jump where the student is attached to me). Other days, I am coaching licensed skydivers on how to become fliers or helping them with the training they need to become an instructor themselves.
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Did you have any hesitations about taking on the Burj Khalifa project?
The Burj Khalifa project is the highest-profile stunt I’ve done. I knew from the beginning it would be both physically and mentally challenging, but it was something I wholeheartedly wanted to do. The team gave me an excellent briefing, so I had a good idea of what I was getting myself into. I am in excellent shape and I accepted the climb would be challenging. I focused my mind on getting to the top, one ladder rung at a time.
How did it feel when you were standing on the platform?
Oh, it was surreal. I felt so proud of myself and so incredibly humbled at the same time. This stunt was a monumental personal achievement.
What’s one thing you wish people knew about the project?
To appear relaxed and carefree on the set, I visualised me cooking a Thanksgiving holiday meal with my mother and grandmother. I imagined preparing the food, hearing their hilarious stories, and feeling the chaos that happens when you have too many people in the kitchen.
What do you love about the UAE?
There is so much that I love about the UAE; the people, the culture, the food, the desert, and the Karak chai. I love how safe it is here. I love the opportunities I have had here. Dubai has collected a bit of the good from all the cultures represented in the city and created a dynamic metropolis. No matter where this life takes me, I will always carry a piece of Dubai in my heart.
What’s next for you?
For this answer, you’ll have to stay tuned…