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Actionfest 2012: Gina Carano To Receive “Chuck Norris Award” For Best Female Action Star

ActionFest returns to Asheville on April 12-15, to once again showcase the most exciting action films from around the globe and feature mind-blowing live stunt performances by the best in the business. The festival will also continue to pay tribute to Hollywood’s stunt men and women, fight choreographers, and 2nd unit directors, whose fearlessness makes action films thrilling for audiences worldwide.

ActionFest is pleased to announce that Haywire star Gina Carano will be the recipient of the inaugural Chick Norris Award at the 2012 festival. The Chick Norris Award honors the Best Female Action Star of the year, in a play off the attitude, spirit, athleticism and grit of Hollywood legend Chuck Norris, who was awarded ActionFest’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010 (this year that honor goes to the legendary stuntman Mickey Gilbert, as previously announced).

Carano’s decisive prowess in the MMA world has won her the support of fans worldwide and recognition as a pioneer in women’s MMA. She first appeared on TV on the legendary American Gladiators show as “Crush,” and debuted in film alongside Michael Jai White in Blood and Bone. Recently, she made a splash as the lead in Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire alongside Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, and Michael Fassbender.

Said Carano: “It is an incredible honor to be included in this event. Chuck Norris has always been someone I respect and look up to. Being able to represent martial arts as a woman has been a blessing in my life and I am so intensely grateful to the people who have supported and shared this passion with me.”

Said ActionFest co-founder Aaron Norris: “An award to honor the work of women in action films is long overdue, and we’re honored to present the first Chick Norris Award to the astonishing Gina Carano, who I am a huge fan of. She has exploded on the movie scene with the magnificent Haywire. We know from very bruised and reliable sources that she’s as tough as they come—making her the perfect honoree for ActionFest.”

Chuck Norris also commented: “I am honored to have Gina Carano receive this award. My entire career has been blessed because martial arts allowed me to do what I love– make Action Movies. I cannot think of a better person than Gina for this honor, and I am proud that she is the first to receive this award. I highly respect her martial arts ability and she deserves all her accolades for Haywire. Watch out world, a star is born. A proven fighter and very tough action star is here to stay.”

The 2012 film line up, information about celebrity attendees, and badge sales are upcoming at www.actionfest.com.

About ActionFest  
ActionFest is the only international film festival devoted exclusively to action cinema and its unsung heroes, the men and women who put the action into action films. Currently in its third consecutive year, ActionFest was founded  in 2010 by Bill Banowsky, Aaron Norris, Dennis Berman and Tom Quinn.

About Gina Carano
Wildly considered the face of Women’s Mixed Martial Arts, Gina Carano has crossed over into the realm of feature films, cast as the star of director Steven Soderbergh’s film, “Haywire.” Carano plays the role of a black ops soldier seeking retribution after being deceived on a past mission. With a supporting cast including Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Channing Tatum and Antonio Banderas among others, Carano will made her big screen debut on January 20, 2012. Born in Dallas, Texas Carano was brought up in an athletic background as the daughter of Glenn Carano, a former Dallas Cowboys quarterback.  Gina’s career as a Muay Thai specialist began in the famed Master Toddy Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Under Master Toddy, Gina competed multiple times internationally, garnishing a 12-1-1 professional Muay Thai record.

At that time, Carano was simultaneously pursuing a degree in Psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. As her fighting career grew and Carano realized her passion for the sport, she chose to focus solely on Muay Thai, traveling the world for fighting events.

Among her athletic achievements include her participation in the first ever sanctioned MMA bout in Nevada. Carano defeated opponent Leiticia Pestova in an impressive 39 seconds.  Carano was influential in the introduction of women in competitive fighting, as her fight against Elaina Maxwell was the first time StrikeForce, the well-known MMA promotion, had women on their card in December 2006.  Carano was the victor, defeating Elaina by unanimous decision.  Three years later, Carano fought Christine Cyborg-Santos in the first StrikeForce Women’s Lightweight Championship.  This fight was also the first Women’s Main Card Event and was televised nationally on Showtime.  Coming off of her first professional loss to Cyborg-Santos, Steven Soderbergh reached out to her team after having seen her in action. They soon met in San Diego, where he discussed with her the vision for a film he wanted to shoot with her as the star.  Soderbergh selected Gina to bring authenticity to lead character Mallory Kane, relying on Gina’s background in Mixed Martial Arts.  Gina agreed to the role, and soon began production on the film in early 2010.  Carano did 99% of the stunts in the film and was aided by her fight background as well as special combat training she did with ex-Mossad agent Aaron Cohen. Carano hopes to continue pursuing her new found love for acting balanced with her existing fight career.  Carano currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.