Mark Hicks’ reputation as a highly trained martial artist, stuntman, and actor earned him an audition for a LeBron James Nike commercial featuring legendary martial arts master Jim Kelly – a childhood idol of Hicks.For his audition, Mark Hicks planned on doing a back flip followed by an impressive showing of his nunchucks skills. Despite still suffering from jet lag after a six month stay in Hong Kong, Mark Hicks rehearsed all morning and decided he was ready for the audition.
With a camera recording his every move, Hicks firmly held a pair of nunchucks as he jumped to perform a back flip. Instead of landing on his feet, however, Hicks slipped, dropped a pair of nunchucks, and fell flat on his face. Not wanting to give up on the audition, Hicks tried to get up to continue, but he fell again and caused more embarrassment for himself.
Months later, the short audition tape was uploaded onto eBaum’s World and played on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. “Afro Ninja” soon became a viral hit as the world watched a stuntman simply slip and refuse to quit. Mark Hicks was kind of enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to speak with us via email:
“I have no idea who leaked it to the web,” Hicks told us. “… I wanted to do some serious bodily harm to the person who leaked it. I felt violated. But I got over it.”
What a lot of people don’t realise is that Hicks was given another chance to audition for the role, and he actually landed the part. He got to meet LeBron James and his childhood idol Jim Kelly. Months later, Hicks was stunt-doubling for the film xXx: State of the Union when a friend told him about his video being shown on The Tonight Show.
“I was sick because it takes a long time to gain respect and trust in the stunt business,” Hicks wrote. “I felt like this video would destroy all that I had worked for by making me look like a goof.”
Hicks thinks the video hurt him in getting other stunt and acting gigs, but instead of laying low and avoiding the viral spotlight, Mark Hicks took action. “I got together with some entertainment friends and we made a feature length movie project based on ‘Afro Ninja,'” Hicks told us.
That’s right. Life handed Mark Hicks a lemon, and he squeezed the hell out of it. As the producer, director, and star of “Afro Ninja: Destiny,” Hicks hoped to turn an embarrassing moment into a profitable venture. However, he’s still waiting for it to pay off. “So far, I haven’t profited at all,” Hicks told us. “In fact, I invested a LOT of money in making the movie.”
Rather than sit around and wait for his movie to take off, Hicks jokingly told us this: “I am planning a garage sale so I can pay the water bill. Just kidding… a little.”
In actuality, Mark Hicks landed an acting role in the next instalment of “The Fast and the Furious” franchise. He is currently working on the film and will be playing “a bad guy named ‘Capa.'”
Although he might never live down his “Afro Ninja” video, Mark Hicks is a tough-skinned Hollywood veteran. If he was handed the audition tape before its contents were uploaded onto the web, Hicks would probably either rip it in half or destroy it mercilessly with a pair of nunchucks.
“I will benefit from this in the long run,” wrote Hicks. “We will make another film and I will make a million dollars off this situation… If I had a choice to do it all over again… I would pass.”
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