After a stellar year working on box office smash films Wakanda Forever, Nope, Paradise City, and Emancipation, Marvel actress and stuntwoman Carrie Bernans proved she could shine just as bright as the superstars within her Hollywood galaxy. From working on legendary films like Marvel’s Black Panther where she stunt doubled Letitia Wright’s character, Shuri, to co-starring in Paradise City as an undercover marine on a mission to save the island alongside seasoned veterans John Travolta and Bruce Willis, 2022 catapulted her into critically acclaimed projects. But for Bernans, the biggest gift of 2022 was learning she would bring life into this world.

I got to work with the mastermind Jordan Peele on his film Nope stunt doubling my girl Keke Palmer who ironically is pregnant as well. With an 1863 backdrop in sultry Louisiana, I was privileged to work with the ultra-talented Will Smith in the epic film Emancipation, which follows the real-life, unknown hero, Whipped Peter,” Bernans tells Sheen.

Working on these paradigmatic films that impacted the culture had its various challenges. Each role required a different level of preparation beforehand that wasn’t something I could just wing. Each of the skill sets needed was thankfully in my “tool kit” from years of discipline in acting and stunts training,” she added.

For Bernans, when choosing to work on a project, she’s always looking to uplift, support, educate, and influence the world on Black culture and the various ways Blacks can be seen. Knowing that movies and tv shows steadily shape attitudes and customs and that as an actress she teaches people through this medium on what the world looks like if they don’t go outside of their culture to experience it, she is very intentional about the roles she chooses.

“When I worked on films like Marvel’s Black Panther when I was Dora Milajae or even on Wakanda Forever as Shuri’s stunt double, I know that many young girls of color can see themselves as powerful and beautiful, uniquely gifted with intelligence to build vibranium-powered futuristic skyscrapers or rally supporters up to complete a mission. Ultimately, feeling empowered about being black and celebrating the royal African in each of us,“ she says.

Bernans recently sat down with SHEEN and opened up about her biggest year in Hollywood, Motherhood, and generational wisdom.

Tell us about your pregnancy journey. In what ways has motherhood already begun to shape your future?

My pregnancy journey was very unique and different from others. It was very shocking and a surprise to have fallen pregnant. It wasn’t something my partner and I were trying but later took as a blessing. As I grow as an adult and internally look inward, I know that I always wanted to be a mom from a very young age. I, like many others, wanted to be in a committed marriage, or a partnership before making that happen but things went a different way. As a Christian woman of faith, I have to admit that I felt a level of guilt and disappointment that I have since learned to accept and since have allowed God to take me on this new journey of life. When I found out I was pregnant, I was in the middle of doing a job in another state where I was doing stunts and found out I was with child, so I had to maneuver work in a way that didn’t force me to tell others of my new disposition. But, to protect me, and my child. Now, at almost 6 months pregnant, I have worked on several projects, and no one up until this moment knew that I was with child. I’ve had the opportunity to work on projects in countries like Columbia and cities throughout America throughout my pregnancy. I’ve had to take extra precautions with the food I ate, and the things that I did. And while keeping this a secret to myself and my inner circle, I had to pick and choose what events and jobs I chose to do as my baby grew and my belly expanded. Motherhood has already begun to shape my future and grow me as an individual because, like any vision or goal, it’s a birthing process that has different cycles and must go through in order to create this thing called life or a baby or the fulfillment of a vision. And along the way, necessary check-ins are needed in order to ensure you’re on track to reach that goal. Also, my child has made me become a softer and more peaceful individual although it hasn’t stopped me from spinning cars 180 or sliding them for fun or work, I’ve been even safer while doing it. I’ve chosen not to stress over situations that I used to stress over and allow myself more grace in the things that I do, knowing that I am growing this little smart human inside of me. I’ve taken time to slow down and smell the roses a little bit more and it’s given my partner and me a whole new layer of digging deeper into our own values and core beliefs that we only knew a fraction of. I think it’s nothing short of amazing that we as women are able to go through this birthing experience, and each process carries its own weight. My health has become more essential to me than ever because the health of my child is at hand. And every time I feel my baby move, I just know his legacy is going to change the entire world. My prince, my King, My Sun, My Son.

What are some of the core values that you want to instill in your son?

Teaching my son core values like respect, responsibility, resilience, gratitude, and kindness will be at the top of my list. I believe if we respect our children, through example, they will learn to respect themselves and others that are around them. And I will teach him responsibility by enabling him to learn how to be responsible through small tasks like cleaning up after himself once he’s big enough to read books where the main character is accountable and discuss it afterward. I will praise him after he reinforces positive behavior, and on the flip side, show him examples through his actions on what not being responsible yields. Furthermore, I look forward to teaching him about resilience and overcoming adversity to maintain healthy self-esteem even when things get tough. That was one of the things that my mom instilled in my sister and me growing up—teaching us not to give up and encouraging us to try again, regardless of how small or big the challenge was.  And resilience will always be taught through example and through him practicing it in his everyday life. There’s a quote that says, “Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.” If we approach things with a gracious heart, we usually see the glass half full versus half empty. And it allows us to create kindness that overflows and is easily shared in others’ lives. I want him to be able to extend kindness to his friends and individuals he’s around without being a pushover, but just being a good human being.

Have your parents and grandparents passed on any wisdom that you’d like to share?

Wisdom being passed on from generation to generation is something we know quite near and dear in the black community and my family is nothing different. I have been given wisdom from my parents and grandparents through words and through actions over the years. Although my closest relationships would be with my maternal parents and maternal grandma. I’ve seen them both make a little food stretch for an entire meal, I’ve seen them turn a dollar to ten, and so on. I’ve seen them pass grace to others that in my eyes didn’t deserve it, and it taught me to have a new light and to practice grace myself. I’ve seen, witnessed, and had them preach faith to me that will never allow it to leave my presence even when I’m six feet deep and above the clouds playing soccer. My mother has always taught me to stay true to who God has made me to be. To be humble, be kind, be understanding, but of all things, show love and compassion for others. And, when I’m old and gray and look in the mirror, my reflection will always be the true “me.”

Follow Carrie Bernans on IG @carriebernans for more information