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Hollywood’s First Latina Stuntwoman: Did Barbara Lee Make Prince Blush?


It was such a pleasure to interview Barbara Lee. When I saw her, I realized that we had actually met several years ago. I know, that’s so Rhode Island; we all know each other.

Barbara has such an interesting story. She was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico to Puerto Rican parents who separated soon after she was born. Her mother then met a Jamaican-Asian guy and they all moved to California! There, Barbara was immersed in American culture, and she struggled to maintain her Spanish language.


Actress Barbara Lee

So there she was…this young and beautiful Puerto Rican woman who was working in restaurants. The show Air Wolf comes into town for a shoot and one of the extras suggested Barbara try out as an “extra!.” She showed up with a Polaroid of herself and started working the very next day on Falcon’s Crest. Bill Bixby, famous for his TV roles on “My Favorite Martian” and “The Incredible Hulk,” gave her her first speaking role. From that point on Barbara found herself landing one amazing thing after another. From smaller roles on top shows like Dallas to her starring role as Deputy Christina Surillo on Carroll O’Connor’s “In the Heat of the Night” Barbara enjoyed her newfound career path.



That is until a stunt coordinator asked her to be a “stand-in” during a stunt. She later learned there was more work as a stunt woman than there was for her as an actress at the time. I guess the “stars” never race cars, get involved in high speed chases, or do the fight scenes! So there was Barbara Lee, playing the stunt double for the likes of Halle Barry, Whitney Houston and other Hollywood mega stars not realizing she had become Hollywood’s first Latina Stuntwoman.



But that’s not all! This groundbreaking Latina was also involved in music videos. Apparently she was hanging out with Prince back in the day, and she actually starred in his famous film video, “Insatiable” after a chance encounter at a nightclub. How many times have we all seen that video? Ms. Lee actually spent a lot of time with Prince. She says he was a lovely individual, very generous and kind. His death shook her and all in the music world.

During her Hollywood career she met the man who would become her husband, and that’s what brought Barbara Lee to Rhode Island. I always say…there are stars among us and she is surely one.

Ms. Lee has been working in the travel business here in Rhode Island while raising her three beautiful children. They are just about grown, and now that they are, she has reset her eyes on the world she enjoyed not too long ago. We are all waiting with baited breath to see where life takes the talented Barbara Lee!

Tune in to Que Onda Con Donna to hear all about her interesting life in Hollywood, her work in Rhode Island, her proudest moments, along with what keeps her up at night.

Join me as we get up close and personal with Barbara Lee Belmonte!

“¿Que Onda? con Donna” can be seen on YurView – Cox Channels 4 and 1004 – Tuesdays at 7:30pm, Wednesdays at 8:30pm, Saturdays at 2:30pm and 8pm.

The author, Donna M. Nesselbush, is a founding partner at Marasco & Nesselbush Law, a Rhode Island State Senator and Municipal Court Judge for the City of Pawtucket. She hosts a Spanish language Saturday morning radio show on Latina 100.3fm and now hosts the all new “¿Que Onda? con Donna” TV show.