Kari Byron kicks butt. From shooting machine guns to rolling giant balls of Legos down the street, she keeps us entertained and educated each week on Mythbusters, Discovery Channel’s show that puts common — and not so common — lore to the test. Between hosting a new show, creating her own art, raising a one-year-old daughter, and her full-time job busting myths, Kari was gracious enough to find some time to meet up with us because we just had to know…
How’d you get this awesome job?
I was a sculptor, trying to do the starving artist thing, and wanted a job that actually paid me. About seven years ago, I went to M5, Jamie Hyneman’s special effects shop, to try to get into model-making and toy-prototyping. My first day as an intern just happened to be the first day of filming for [Mythbusters], so it was just really lucky that the opportunity was there, and I worked my butt off until I ended up in this position!
How did your background as an artist prepare you for this job?
Everyone here has backgrounds in different things. Jamie has a degree in Russian, Grant has a degree in engineering, and Tory has a degree in film. We all bring our jack of all trades to the table in everything we do. I think science and art intersect continually. At the moment, I’m trying to create and simulate real bugs. We need Goliath beetles — which you can’t import live from Africa — because we’re going to see if you hit a bug while riding on a motorcycle, and if it could create a fatal blow. We tried it with flies and locusts, now we need to try it with these beetles. So, I need to simulate the mass and texture of them. To make a mold of the beetle, I had to make a hard exoskeleton, and then fill the inside with green pudding so I could get the splat effect. All of the things that I learned as a sculptor come into play here.
What’s been your favorite myth to bust?
You know, it changes — it’s usually whatever were working on. When I first came back from maternity leave, I hadn’t done anything really hands on in a while. The whole pregnancy I had to beware of fumes and bullets, so I couldn’t be around explosions. My first day back after maternity leave, I got to shoot a .50 caliber gun at an SUV that was covered in phone books, to see if it was bulletproof — and I got the kill shot. I hit it in the engine block on the first shot and the thing just went, “Umph” — and I could just hear my dad smiling.
So, this is your dream job then?
I never dreamed of any job like this. This is nuts. I’ve actually exceeded any expectation of any awesome job that I would have. I never thought that I’d ever be doing anything remotely this interesting. I mean sculpture was cool, special effects was cool, but this is amazing!
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I was a process server for awhile — I had to serve evictions. I did that for a very short period of time, because nobody wants to see you at the door.
What advice do you have for people who are trying to find their dream job?
Anything that you really want to do, find someone who does it, ask them about it. Then get internships in that field. Because if you work hard enough, and someone sees that — sooner or later — they’re going to pay you. Just prove yourself.
Each month, we’ll feature awesome women with amazing jobs. Tell us what you think the best job ever is — and we might just find someone who does it!