Emirates made history when the 37-year-old American skydiver modelled atop the Burj Khalifa inviting the world to visit the most coveted event, Expo2020. While the bold and the beautiful Nicole Smith-Ludvik is the only woman on this planet who stood perched on the tallest building on the earth, she also joined the bandwagon of the handful of luminaries who made it to the zenith of this engineering marvel- Tom Cruise and Crown Prince of Dubai, H.H Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Here’s a peek into our conversation with the overnight celebrity who is also a yoga instructor, stuntwoman and a motivational speaker.
Tell us about how you landed this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of featuring in the Emirates ad on pinnacle of the Burj Khalifa?
I’ve created a network of incredible people in the skydiving industry over the past 12 years. One of those connections is Alan Gayton, owner of Prime Productions. Prime Productions is a project management company in Dubai specializing in film production and stunts. My husband and I have both worked with him on several stunts in the past. Alan called me one evening, gave me a project brief, and asked me to submit a casting video that detailed my accomplishments and my lifestyle. Emirates selected me for the stunt out of the talent who answered the casting call.
What inspired you to say yes to this difficult feat?
Inspired me? I jumped at the opportunity to do this stunt! It’s been a dream of mine to stand at the top of the Burj!
What challenges did you face in this shoot?
The climb to the top of the Burj Khalifa is 200 meters up a tiny ladder inside a very narrow space. The ladder rungs resemble less of a ladder you would use in your home and more like the rungs you see on the side of a telephone pole. The climb takes a lot of both mental and physical endurance. But the thing I found most challenging about the climb was doing it at a pace slow enough so that I didn’t sweat my makeup off or mess up my hair!
How was this stunt different from the usual skydiving feats?
Typically, when I am at the altitude of the top of the Burj, 830m, I am either in an aircraft or I have a parachute on my back. So, standing on the top of the Burj was a similar visual to skydiving. I have spent countless hours at that altitude. But this experience was entirely different. Of course, the climb to the top has something to do with that. But, it’s something that only a handful of people have ever done! Also, I am the only woman who has ever done this, which made it even more special.
How did you feel once you were up there perched on the top of the world?
Climbing to the top of the Burj was a fantastic experience. It represents a lot more to me than just being a wildly successful global stunt. Every ladder rung I climbed to get to the top of the Burj was a physical representation of my life’s journey. I have overcome a lot as I look back on the past twelve years. Some days were more challenging than others but, I didn’t stop climbing. Some days were excruciating physically and emotionally, but I didn’t stop climbing. Hand over hand, I kept rising, not looking back, not looking down. When I reached the top of the platform steadied myself, I took a deep, and whispered to myself, “I’ve made it.”
You are a women with indomitable spirit who the world is looking up to. What is your success mantra?
Find your passion, whatever that may be, and pursue it with gusto! Have the courage to look fear in the face and say, “You can’t stop me!”
What next extraordinary thing is on your cards?
It’s one of my biggest goals to skydive all seven continents. Australia and Antarctica are my two final continents. I am actively looking for sponsors to help me make this happen.
Success is how high you bounce back when you hit rock bottom. Please give one tip which can perk up the people distressed and disheartened in life.
Perception becomes our reality. We become what we tell ourselves. Though it may seem painful, complicated, or impossible, find gratitude. When we set an intention to find goodness, it becomes easier to see the good things in our lives.
How has the Emirates feat changed your outlook towards the world and people in general?
I am filled with so much gratitude. This stunt has provided me with a global platform to share my story. I hope I am able to use this to inspire others to chase their dreams!
“The Burj Khalifa has been the most amazing stunt I have ever done.”
Quick five with Nicole Smith-Ludvik
Describe yourself in three words-
Bold, daring, adventurous
Any memorable feats that you have done before the Emirates feat-
I am a GoPro Creator awardee and I have been awarded as one of the “Most Inspiring Women to Look for in 2022.’
If you were to take one person up there on this feat, who would it be-
My husband David
Any humorous incident –
A pigeon tried to attack me when I was on the top!
Any other modelling stints that you have done-
I have modeled for a skydiving company called LiquidSky Sports.