Students know Jessica Cail as a Pepperdine psychologist and professor. But they could never guess what she does in her “other” life.
Professor Cail is a trained stuntwoman and circus performer. When not teaching Cail enjoys “stunts and circus stuff” to take the edge off of a stressful day. She laughs when she explains students’ reactions when they discover she is a stuntwoman and circus performer. “You do stunts? They don’t believe it.”
And what Cail does is well unbelieveable. She’s made a handful of film and television appearances working in stunts that require her to do wire work sword fights and gymnastic. Perhaps you can catch her as a circus performer in “Tenacious D: Pick of Destiny” or as a surfer in “1408.”
Not only does she have film stuntwoman under her belt she can add live show performer to her repertoire as well. She has performed with the Disney Corp. in parades and in Cirque de Soleil. She has also used her fighting skills in live shows like “The Dragon’s Keep and has made repeated appearances in Dungeonmaster.”
But Cail does even more than “stunts and circus stuff.” An avid athlete Cail is a Professional Association of Diving Instructors certified scuba diver an ex-NCAA Division I Regionals finalist in the 4-by-100 meter and 4-by-400 meter relays and the triple jump. She was also in the top 100 Junior Olympics National 5k cross-country runners.
Cail rock climbs surfs snowboards inline skates rapels waterskies kayaks on top of her stunts and circus performing. Cail also designs elaborate costumes for herself and friends.
She took on professional stunts because of her husband. “My significant other is a stuntman. Hanging out with him got me into it.”
Jessica’s sister says she is driven.
“Whatever (Jessica) goes into she becomes one of the best at it said Jamie Cail. If she hasn’t mastered it yet she will soon.” Cail’s confidence and perseverance has helped her achieve so much in such a short time span. Jamie describes her sister as “talented and confident unafraid to try new things and will not stop working at it until she has mastered it.”
And she’s equally as passionate about teaching.
Cail a former Boston University student has come to Pepperdine as a visiting professor for the Social Science Division. She has worked as an adjunct instructor at American Continental University Cerritos Community College and Long Beach City College. Cail has also taught as a part-time lecturer at Loyola Marymount University.
Psychology and teaching were not part of Cail’s original plans however. Cail began her college career as a journalism major eventually graduating with a bachelor of arts in journalism. “In our (Boston University’s) liberal arts program in journalism you have to do an outside concentration she explained. I was thinking of being a science writer. In reality (psychology) is not that different than journalism.”
Specializing in experimental psychology Cail said what appealed to her most about experimental psychology over clinical psychology was that it “lends itself better to research.” Cail’s unique journalism background allowed her to interpret her research in a more comprehendable way. She has been a part of seven publications with subject matter ranging from Addictive behavior to how drugs affect behavior.
Cail has always been interested in the sciences since she was a child. She recalls “reading my mom’s textbooks.” Cail’s sister Jamie tells of how “she (Jessica) jumps into everything and anything with both feet” and reveals that Cail is a naturally passionate person.
Her passion for life and everything she does is evident in her teaching. “She has a student focus explained Steven Rouse a fellow faculty member. She is clearly interested in the students.” Her sister tells of how Jessica has an innate ability to teach.
Cail also fell in love with psychology because of its journalism-like “variety.”
“One week we’d be talking about sleep disorders and then the next week would be something completely different she said. It was never the same thing.” Cail also found that variety as an adjunct teacher. “Teaching as an adjunct (is) fun for variety but hard work.” And even though she enjoys the variety Cail would “like to be at one school for more than a year.” Perhaps Pepperdine will give her some permanency.
Reading Cail’s extensive resume it’s easy to feel intimidated by all that she has accomplished. But in person Jessica Cail is anything but arrogant. She has a natural magnetism about her and although some might pair arrogance with confidence Cail’s confidence is subtle and masked by her profound passion for everything and everyone in her life.
Perhaps her favorite words of wisdom explain her passion and confidence best: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to ones courage – Añais.”