A life filled with challenges and a supportive family has made MarkAnthony Baca into a multitalented performer and mentor.
Baca is a self-proclaimed daredevil and has been doing stunt work for movies and television shows since 1992.
He said he has been talking with Clovis city officials in an effort to gain approval to jump off of Hotel Clovis in October. Baca said he wants to perform the stunt for charity and plans to donate any proceeds from the event to anti-bullying programs and suicide prevention.
Baca, 42, has spent 20 years of his life helping as many people as he can through his Guardian Anti-Bullying Campaign, Inc. He combines his knowledge of bullying with his martial arts abilities to inform children about the pitfalls of bullying at schools in the panhandle area.
Baca was born in Clovis, but now resides in Guymon, Oklahoma. When not helping to run one of his eight American Karate Studios in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandle, Baca can be found visiting his mother in Clovis.
What got you interested in stunt work and what is your favorite stunt that you have done? I got interested at a young age. I had always been the dare devil type, but I started off pursuing acting. I realized I got more work as a stunt man in movies than I did as an actor. I am more physical anyway. I make the actor look good. My favorite stunt is anything with fire. Or jumping off a building on fire. It’s an adrenaline rush.
You started an anti-bullying program; what made you start it and what is the program’s goal? I had been bullied most of my life and still to this day people attempt to bully me. I know what it’s like to be bullied and to be the bully. I felt it was a cause close to home for me. I felt I was the best person to start a program better than any other program out there to help educated and motivate young and old to become better people. My goal is to make this program successful in a way that it changes lives. It already has changed lives and I get thanks all the time. I hope this (the program) can be a tool for everyone to use so they can learn ways to understand and cope with the different attacks caused by bullying. I want this program to grow beyond my own self.
Who has been your biggest influence in your life and why?
My biggest influences have been my parents and late grandmother. My dad, Jose Adan Mondragon, was my biggest fan and I never realized it until he passed away. He always believed in me like my mother and grandmother. These people taught me that I can be anything. They taught me that I can be what society says I can’t be. I have broken barriers and conquered almost every dream I had as a child because of my parents’ love. I teach my hundreds of students and black belts what my parents taught me growing up. I teach them how to live, how to love and not be hateful, and how to reach for the stars and never settle for less than what they deserve. I teach them how to become leaders and not followers. All the things that make a true black belt and a true Christian; I was taught by my family. I do what I do to make them proud.
What drives you to continue your work? I am getting old and as I get older my priorities start to change. Seeing the kids gain so much from what we teach is priceless. The kids that are growing up better than I was as a child with confidence and a loving heart is what drives me. The love I have for children motivates me to be a good example.
What precautions do you take when performing burns or car crash stunts?
When performing crashes and burns I check everything three times. I can die if one thing is missing. I have to have people helping me that care about me because it only takes one wrong move to mess up badly.
How do you spend your free time when you aren’t working? When I’m not working, which is rare, I love to sing karaoke and I love to dance. Or if kids are around, we go to movies or go to amusement parks. I enjoy hanging with friends and family, young and old.
If you could live one moment over again, what would it be? If I could live one moment again, I would like to have my dad back. No accomplishment could every replace having my dad back even for a moment. If he were alive he would be at all my stunts. He would then tell me like he used to, “Son I am proud of you” and there are no words that can express how much that means to me. To do things and have my parents by my side is so important to me.
— Compiled by staff writer