dana j. richie

Director, Writer, Executive Producer


Backlot Productions was awarded this 8-episode original content series with Refinery29 & Smartwater.  Dana directed all episodes and was the executive casting director for all coaches as well as executive produced via Backlot ( hand-picked DP, editing) and co-wrote all episodes. Refinery29 has an incredible, mostly millennial audience reach at 140 million views a month, and this series alone has already amassed 2 million views. In the series, host Allison Hagendorf, an elite athlete, challenges herself by engaging in empowering activities she’s never done before, inspiring women to challenge themselves and embrace possibility.  


It takes pure grit to stand in a ring with another person knowing that the impending skirmish is going to get ugly. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a combat sport that utilizes striking, throwing, and grappling techniques to defeat the opponent — both standing up and on the ground. Heavy hitters like Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, and Gina Carano have become household names in the dude-centric MMA world — proving that women have the backbone to fight and come back wanting more. The MMA episode was shot with MMA powerhouse Marcus Kowal.  


Bull riding is one of those well-known, but oddly overlooked, activities that's much harder to master than the public realizes. Once the automated animal starts bucking, it takes more than just balance to hold yourself steady. It requires strength, agility, grit, and serious mental fortitude to keep yourself docked. Watch as our host Allison Hagendorf digs her thighs into the saddle to see if she can hold on like a pro. 


Our host Allison Hagendorf met up with veteran Cirque du Soleil performer and Cirque School L.A. owner Aloysia Gavr to learn the basics of aerial technique. Hagendorf quickly learned that her movements were as much about mental strength as they were about physical. Performers need to be able to hold their own while suspended — but believing you can do it is always the first step. It is, of course, hard to overlook the dangers involved in the sport. In 2013, Cirque du Soleil had to reassess its safety measures after a fatal accident occurred during a performance of the show Kà. Despite the potential danger, professional aerial artists know what they're getting themselves into and utilize caution (and a little bit of fear) to keep themselves safe while suspended. Watch as these two climb their way to atmospheric success. Get ready to run away and join the circus.


These days, the sport is being utilized in a variety of ways, but a common theme in current Krav Maga training centers on equipping women with self-defense strategies. The frightening statistics around violence, sexual harassment, and assault toward women simply can't be ignored. While there are programs dedicated to stopping this violence at its root, there are also more immediate protection efforts to help women feel armed in any scenario — efforts that include Krav Maga. Watch as our host Allison Hagendorf punches, kicks, and jabs her way to being a Krav Maga badass. 


Fencing is way more physically strenuous than you realize. Strong legs are a must, since you need to constantly propel yourself forward into an offensive position and move back when you're on the defensive. Arms need to be super-sharp for every strike, swing, and cut. For this reason, plyometrics are crucial to staying competitive — footwork and posture need to be on point in order to stay agile. 

In addition to the physical requirements, fencing is also very cerebral. It's about being strategic with your moves and knowing how to read your opponent. This is why the sport is also known as "physical chess."


There is zero room for error when it comes to being a firefighter, so this workout is definitely one of the more mentally and physically demanding challenges we've faced. 

In order to get the job done, a firefighter needs to be able to swing, kick, punch, and smash through anything to perform a rescue — which doesn't always involve fire. Common emergencies can include anything from removing distressed passengers from a car to protecting civilians from fallen debris. No matter what, a firefighter has to be ready to spring into action at a moment's notice. 


It's takes a lot of physical strength and stamina to get through an intense action scene without getting hurt (and while still looking cool). This is easy enough to understand, but not a lot of thought is placed on the mental toughness that is required to do something like a high fall without flinching. So next time you see a killer on-screen action sequence by an A-lister, remember that there is a stunt performer making that look awesome. 
Pro stuntwoman Sydney Olson took our host Allison Hagendorf through three stunt basics: chase obstacles, car slides, and free falls. These moves prove that stuntwomen are the real badasses of the entertainment industry.


When it comes to rock climbing, an all-or-nothing approach is key. 
The sport requires full-body commitment and strength in order to keep yourself in the green as you work your way up the wall. Another major component in the climbing process involves knowing your body well enough to pivot and move as you traverse and scale — and remembering to hold your weight in your legs, not your arms.
In this episode of Be A Badass, Allison Hagendorf takes on a killer rock wall and propels like a champ!