Kyle Shapiro (BBA ’09) is one person you don’t want to mess with.
Upon his graduation from Brock, Shapiro moved to China to pursue a career in international trade and logistics, but his passion for parkour and fitness quickly turned into a profession for him. Parkour is the sport of moving as quickly and efficiently through a route by jumping, climbing or running. However, Shapiro finds it a bit more difficult to define: “It has a communal aspect. It is about using the city space in ways it wasn’t meant to be used. Instead of accepting the routes architects and zoning boards offer us, Traceurs (parkour practitioners) travel the city in our own way – by climbing, jumping, and moving over and around structures.”
Shapiro started participating in parkour in 2005, but really immersed himself when he founded the Niagara region parkour community. Now situated in China, he has used his athletic ability to make it onto the big screen. Shapiro was the only foreign stuntman to appear in a 2010 Jet Li film translated to It’s Love, and he’ll appear in another movie this fall as both an actor and stuntman, translated to Wing Chun Xiao Long. In between all his stuntman duties (which include wire work, martial arts, parkour, acrobatics and weapon fighting), we were able to catch up with Shapiro and ask him a few questions.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am living and working in China as a stuntman and actor, while at the same time providing sourcing services for people looking to trade internationally. I use my free time between jobs to help run the Shanghai Parkour and Freerunning League, as well as coach people in parkour and fitness.
2. What attracted you to Brock?
The comfort of the university and friendliness of people. I went to the Brock orientation and was really happy with the experience. The biggest things for me were the smaller size of the student populace and positive atmosphere around the campus.
3. What activities were you involved with at Brock that were outside of the classroom? i.e. sports, clubs or other extracurricular activities?
During my time at Brock, I was part of the Varsity Foil Fencing team, the ACE Business Club, as well as the Foreign Exchange Program. For the foreign exchange program, I was the first student in the Business Department to be sent to China where I studied a semester at Shanghai University. Outside of Brock University I led the Niagara region parkour community.
5. What is your most memorable experience/moment at Brock University?
There wasn’t one particular experience that stood out. I found the entire experience to be great.
6. What was your career/life path after graduating from Brock?
Immediately after graduating, I was looking to work in international trade and logistics. Soon after, my hobbies and athletics became my career.
7. What is the most rewarding part of your career?
The feeling of knowing that I am entertaining people. I have an opportunity to work with many interesting people, while being able to travel in the process. I have the time to spend on learning new things constantly (both athletically and mentally). Being able to play for work doesn’t hurt too, haha.
8. What do you find are the challenges with your position?
When I first arrived in China the biggest challenge was the language and cultural differences. However, over time I was able to overcome it by immersing myself in the local culture. I spent a lot of my early time here learning the language and staying around local people who could not speak English. It forced me to learn quickly. Nevertheless, like anyone else, there are days that you just don’t want to work. So I would say constant motivation to train would be a challenge. If I slack on training, it will affect my work quality.
9. Have you received any awards or accolades that you are proud of?
In 2010 I was accepted to work on a Jet Li film as the only foreign stuntman.
10. What community service, charities or associations are you involved with?
I am involved in the Shanghai Parkour and Freerunning League. It is a non-profit group built to spread parkour within Shanghai.
11. What is your “other side of the brain?” What are your hobbies and interests that don’t necessarily relate to your degree or line of work?
I think it’s safe to say that having a BBA and doing stunt work don’t exactly go hand in hand. I really try to support the parkour scene in Shanghai and China, which is why I’ve become more involved in the league.
12. What is your greatest personal accomplishment?
Recently completing my first feature Chinese film where I have both a stunt role and lead acting role. It was shot completely in Mandarin. For myself, being able to complete the movie fully in Mandarin was a clear indication of my progression. Where upon first arriving in China I couldn’t even form a simple sentence, that experienced showed me that I had reached a level in my Mandarin that I could be proud of.
13. Who do you admire/look up to? And why?
I admire anyone who is great at what they do. It takes a high level of dedication and hard work to get to any truly professional level. That’s what I admire: dedication.
14. What do you want most out of life?
I want to enjoy my work and be able to enjoy my life at the same time.
15. What advice do you have for new graduates?
Create goals for your future. However, always stay open minded. You never know when an interesting opportunity will arise. Staying open minded will ensure that such opportunities don’t pass unnoticed.