Jessie Graff

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Jessie Graff
Jessie Graff in her Chicken Costume from the live action chicken fight- 2013-08-24 19-14.jpg
Jessie Graff in her Chicken Costume from a 2013 'live action chicken fight'
Jessica Lauren Graff

(1984-01-12) January 12, 1984 (age 35) [1]
ResidenceUnited States
OccupationStunt woman, television personality

Jessica Lauren "Jessie" Graff (born January 12, 1984)[2][3][4] is a professional stunt woman and athletics-based television personality. Her nickname is "Tumbleweed".[5] She is a black belt in Taekwondo, a black sash in Kung Fu, and is trained in five other styles of martial arts. She is also a championship pole vaulter and a competitive gymnast.[1]

Graff has become well known for her athletic achievements on the obstacle course show American Ninja Warrior, including in 2016 becoming the first woman ever to complete Stage 1 of the Las Vegas Finals course and only the second woman ever to conquer the Stage 1 of the Sasuke franchise worldwide (excluding Kunoichi), after Chie Tanabe in SASUKE 2. In 2017, Graff became the first woman to compete in, and to successfully finish, Stage 2 in Las Vegas, although this was part of the USA vs. The World competition instead of a regular season, and that had no time requirement.[6][7] She was the first woman representing the United States in that competition.[7] Later on in Sasuke 34, she became the first and so far the only woman worldwide to finish Stage 2 in the Sasuke/Ninja Warrior franchise, only defeated by Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger later in Stage 3.

Early life[edit]

Jessie Graff was born to Ginny MacColl on January 12, 1984.[1][8]

At age 6, Graff started taking circus classes.[9] She started doing gymnastics at age 9 and did competitive gymnastics for 6 years.[9][10] She was a member of the Frederick Gymnastic Club for 6 years.[1][4] By age 12 she was catching other performers on the trapeze. She has stated about her time as a 12-year-old trapeze artist, "The rule was I wasn’t allowed to catch anyone who outweighed me by more than 20 pounds."[9]

Graff was a pole vaulter in high school, and graduated in 2002 from Urbana High School, Frederick, Maryland, as a Track Team Leader, honor roll student, and member of the National Honor Society.[1][4]

She majored in aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech, and theatre at the University of Nebraska.[11] She graduated from University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) in 2007.[5]

She has earned black belts in Taekwondo and Kung Fu.[9]

Collegiate sports career[edit]

Graff is 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) tall.[11] In 2004, she set her personal best (PB) in the 5000m run at 15:56.30; she set her outdoor pole vault PB at 4.17 m (13 ft 8 in); and indoor pole vault PB at 4.20 m (13 ft 9 in).[2] Graff held the pole vault record at Georgia Tech and University of Nebraska.[11]

Stuntwoman career[edit]

Graff started doing stunt work in 2007 and has appeared in several television shows and movies, including X-Men: First Class, Make It or Break It, Another Period, Bridesmaids, Knight and Day, Bad Teacher, John Carter, Leverage, and Sons of Anarchy.[10][11]

As a stuntwoman she has done tumbling on Make It or Break It, trampolined on Another Period and has done many stunts on rooftops, the sides of bridges or buildings and dramatic wipeouts. She has said she continues to learn new skills from other stunt people who specialize in different areas.[9]

As of 2016 her most recent high-profile stunt work has been for the CBS/CW series Supergirl.[9]

In 2018, she worked as a stuntwoman on Wonder Woman 1984.[12]

Obstacle competitor career[edit]

Graff was a contestant on the comically-oriented obstacle course show Wipeout's tenth episode of its first season in 2008.[1] In that appearance, she finished second in the qualifier round (successfully navigating most of it, including a traversal of Big Balls), second again on the next round, but fell in the penultimate round and thus did not make it to the Wipeout Zone.

On season 5 (2013) of American Ninja Warrior (ANW), she became the first woman to qualify to compete in a City Finals course (although she did not complete the qualifier course).[citation needed]

In season 6 (2014) of American Ninja Warrior she could not compete because she had torn her ACL, TCL, and her meniscus.[9]

In season 7 (2015), she appeared at Stage One in Las Vegas and got past the first few obstacles, but she could not make it up the Warped Wall.[citation needed]

In season 8, in the Los Angeles qualifying round, she became the first woman in American Ninja Warrior history to make it up the new 14 1/2-foot Warped Wall and moved on to the city finals along with professional rock climber Natalie Duran. This was the first time two women made it into the Top 30. In the Los Angeles city finals, Graff did not complete the course but finished second overall based on the show's "the farthest the fastest" metric. This broke her own record for the highest finish by a woman in a city competition[13] through 2016. Kacy Catanzaro remains the only woman to complete a city finals course, although her overall placement that night was less than Graff's mark.

At the season 8 national finals at Mt. Midoriyama, Graff became the first woman to ever completed Stage 1, finishing fourth overall.[14] She had 12.39 seconds to spare out of a 2:20 minute time limit and was also the first woman to ever ascend the Warped Wall on Stage 1 in Las Vegas, which has a shorter run-up than the regular one.[9] A stop-motion LEGO video was released soon after her win, which was inspired by her performance in this race.[9] Following the runs of the second week's group of Stage 1 competitors, Graff was in 5th place overall of 90 competitors, with only 17 of them able to finish and move on (a record low for the competition, indicating the difficulty of the course). On Stage 2, which proved difficult for all competitors and surrendered only two finishers, Graff staged a credible run, struggling a bit on the Giant Ring Swing, powering her way through the Down Up Salmon Ladder, but then fell off the Wave Runner when attempting the transition between its two boards, one of several athletes to go out in that manner.

In 2017 she became the first woman to compete in, and to successfully finish, Stage 2 in Las Vegas, although this was part of the USA vs. The World competition instead of a regular season, and had no time requirement.[6][7] She was the first woman representing the United States in that competition.[7]

In the 2017 regular season, American Ninja Warrior season 9, she had a relatively disappointing performance in the Daytona city qualifier, when she fell on the 5th obstacle, the notoriously difficult-for-women Rolling Thunder. However she adopted a quicker approach to it during the city finals and got past it, then got past all of the back half obstacles until the 10th and final Elevator Climb, when she ran out of energy halfway up. Overall she finished 4th out of all the athletes competing in this city finals. In the National Finals, she appeared to be in good position to repeat her previous year's feat of completing Stage 1, when on the last obstance she took one lachay too few and failed to quite reach the climbing net, falling down along it into the water. She said afterward to course reporter Kristine Leahy that she had fallen victim to "what I always say is the number one ninja killer, overconfidence."

In summer of 2017 she went on to compete in Sasuke 34, the original Japanese version of ANW, wearing number #87. She made an impressive mark, becoming just the second woman in the show's history to clear Stage 1 (the first being another stuntwoman, Chie Nishimura of Super Sentai, 19 years beforehand at Sasuke 2.) She also kept the streak going when she became the first woman ever to clear Stage 2. During her Stage 3 run she showed great upper body strength on the course, getting through the first three obstacles, she made it to the Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger when she failed the jump from the first ledge to the second ledge (Drew Dreschel, the other ANW stalwart who entered, also went out on the same obstacle.)

During 2018 as in American Ninja Warrior (season 10) she evinced concern that her involvement in a European stunt project of an undisclosed nature had limited her Ninja training. Nonetheless she completed the Miami City qualifier course atop the Warped Wall, the first woman of the season to do so and giving her a 10th place finish overall for the night. In the Miami city finals she made it to the ninth obstacle, the Stair Hopper, before falling, but it was still far enough fast enough to give her a 5th place finish overall and another trip to Las Vegas. She was ultimately unable to compete at the Las Vegas National Finals due to filming commitments in the Canary Islands for stuntwork on her project, which on the Las Vegas telecast was revealed to be Wonder Woman 1984.


  • 2003 NCAA Championships indoor pole vault: 16th place – 12 feet 5.5 inches (3.797 m) [with Georgia Tech] [15]
  • 2004 Big 12 Championships outdoor pole vault: 2nd place – 13 feet 1.5 inches (4.001 m) [with UNL] [15]
  • 2004 NCAA Championships outdoor pole vault: 24th place – 12 feet 3.5 inches (3.747 m) [with UNL] [15]
  • 2004 Big 12 Championships indoor pole vault: 4th place – 13 feet 1.5 inches (4.001 m) [with UNL] [15]
  • 2004 NCAA Championships indoor pole vault: 11th place – 12 feet 11.5 inches (3.950 m) [with UNL] [15]
  • 2008 Wipeout season 1[1]
  • 2013 American Ninja Warrior season 5 – first woman to advance to a City Final[16][17]
  • 2015 American Ninja Warrior season 7 – first woman to sit atop the leaderboard at a city finals; first woman to advance to the National Finals [16][18]
  • 2016 Team Ninja Warrior season 1 – team captain of "G-Force"; only female captain [14][19]
  • 2016 American Ninja Warrior season 8 – One of only two competitors to make it past "The Wedge" obstacle at the City Finals, leading to finishing second at the course and top woman;[20][21] She became the first woman ever to finish the Stage 1 course at the Las Vegas national finals on ANW.[14]
  • 2017 American Ninja Warrior, "USA vs. The World" – First woman to compete in, and to successfully finish, Stage 2 in Las Vegas, although this was part of the "USA vs. The World" competition instead of a regular season, and had no time requirement.[6][7] She was also the first woman representing the United States in that competition.[7]
  • 2017 Sasuke 34, No 87 – first and so far the only woman worldwide to finish Stage 2 in Sasuke/Ninja Warrior.


  • Spring 2002 All-Met pole vaulter[4]
  • 2005 Academic All-Big 12 First Team[15]
  • Fall 2003 Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll[15]
  • Spring 2004 Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll[15]
  • Fall 2004 Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll[15]
  • Spring 2005 Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll[15]
  • 2004 NCAA Division I Track Coaches Association All-Academic Team[15]


Jesse Graff is sponsored by Under Armour and has her own athletic apparel collection. Her motto with the company is "Unlike Any".[22]

In the media[edit]

Jesse Graff was invited to the 2016 Primetime Emmy Awards and walked the red carpet posing for a photo with one of her signature high kicks. She has also been a presenter for Creative Arts at the 2017 Emmy Awards.[23]

In 2016, Jesse had two articles in Women's Health Magazine where she shared her life story, health secrets, workout routine and diet tips. A year later, she was also featured on the magazine's cover.[24]

In 2019, Graff attended the final dinner service of Hell's Kitchen's eighteenth season.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Jessie Graff". Martial Arts and Action Entertainment.
  2. ^ a b Jessie Graff at IAAF
  3. ^ Jessica Graff. Ramblin Wreck. Retrieved on 2013-12-10.
  4. ^ a b c d "2002 Washington Post All-Met". Washington Post. 2002.
  5. ^ a b Cory Matteson (23 January 2013). "Former UNL pole vaulter lands in Hollywood as a stuntwoman". Lincoln Journal-Star.
  6. ^ a b c Matera, Avery (2017). "Jessie Graff Just Broke an Incredible 'American Ninja Warrior' Record". SELF. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Barnes, Katie (2017-05-31). "American Ninja Warrior Jessie Graff is now the first woman to complete Stage 2". Retrieved 2017-06-06.
  8. ^ "National Finals Week 1". American Ninja Warrior. 29 August 2016. NBC.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Carly Mallenbaum (2 September 2016). "How 'Supergirl' stuntwoman Jessie Graff just made 'Ninja Warrior' history". USA Today. Retrieved 2016-09-01.
  10. ^ a b K.S. Anthony (8 June 2016). "Stuntwoman Crushes 'American Ninja Warrior' Obstacle Course Dressed As Wonder Woman". A Plus.
  11. ^ a b c d "Jessie Graff - IMDb". Retrieved 2016-07-13.
  12. ^ "Las Vegas Finals Night 2". American Ninja Warrior. 3 September 2018. NBC.
  13. ^ Barnes, Katie. "Jessie Graff has historic night in first city finals episode of 'American Ninja Warrior'". Retrieved 2016-07-13.
  14. ^ a b c Des Bieler (30 August 2016). "Stunt woman Jessie Graff makes 'American Ninja' history". Washington Post.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Huskers. "Jessie Graff". Nebraska Huskers.
  16. ^ a b Tim Hayne (14 July 2015). "Watch Stuntwoman Jessie Graff Crush the 'American Ninja Warrior' Qualifier". Movie Fone.
  17. ^ Melissa Siege (16 July 2014). "'American Ninja Warrior' Finalist Kacy Catanzaro Amazing! Watch Video of 5-foot Tall Gymnast Become First Woman to Finish Finals Course". Hollywood Take.
  18. ^ Hannah Schoebaum (29 August 2015). "Exclusive interview with Jessie Graff: stunt woman, "American Ninja Warrior" competitor, and role model for women everywhere". Los Angeles Times.
  19. ^ Alex Garofalo (12 January 2016). "Everything You Need To Know About 'Team Ninja Warrior', 'The Future Of American Ninja Warrior'". International Business Times.
  20. ^ George Back (12 July 2016). "Jessie Graff's Amazing Encore Performance on 'American Ninja Warrior'". Yahoo.
  21. ^ Nick Schwartz (12 July 2016). "Watch 'Wonder Woman' Jessie Graff fly through the Ninja Warrior finals course". Fox Sports.
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