Nik Wallenda is the latest daredevil circus performer from the legendary acrobatic family The Flying Wallendas. He's also the star of the new Discovery Channel show, “Life on a Wire,” which takes a look at how the Wallenda family pulls off their death-defying stunts.
“I started performing at the age of two. At four, I was walking a wire on my own. I started performing 30 feet above the ground at 13, and have been carrying on the legacy ever since,” Wallenda told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “So pretty much my entire life, I’m now 32, I have been doing what I do. And the reason why I do what I do is carrying on that legacy. In the 1780s my family started performing, so it is in my blood.”
“Life on a Wire” shows how, with a mix of science, skill and discipline, the Wallendas create their act. Wallenda and his mother Delilah recently even did the wire walk that killed Nik's great grandfather, Karl Wallenda, in 1978.
“It’s so important that the rigging is perfected. I just recreated my great-grandfather’s skywalk—the one that killed him—in Puerto Rico. He was walking in between two buildings in 1978. He fell and was killed,” Wallenda said. “The way that the rigging was done is what initially caused him to go down.”
Nik said he trusts modern technology to keep him safe, but his father Terry still relies on the family's traditional safety methods.
“My father is very tried and true. He likes to do what’s been done for hundreds of years by my family, while I’m very much about the newer technologies that make our life easier and, in my opinion, safer,” Wallenda explained. “My dad’s concept is, if it’s worked for 200 years, why in the world would we change it? My idea is that it has worked, but there’s always ways to do things better. We often butt heads over that.”
Wallenda also hopes "Life on a Wire" shows that a circus is a well-oiled machine.
“The media uses the word ‘circus’ to describe a fiasco of some sort. Well, the circus is probably the most organized business I’ve ever seen. There’s a lot of engineering and science behind the scenes with what we do. We build all of our own equipment. Every stunt that I do is built in my garage,” he said. “When I’m doing a stunt, people ask if I’m scared or if I’m nervous, and I’m not. I’m very respectful of what I do. If was scared or nervous, it would be debilitating. You can’t be scared of it, because that’s when it becomes extremely dangerous. The preparation, training, design and building of the equipment will be a big part of the show.”
Wallenda says he embodies the American attitude that anything is possible, and every day he strives to keep his family's legacy alive.
“My great grandfather Karl is definitely my biggest inspiration in life. He was one that always wanted to do things better. He created the seven-person pyramid on the high wire because everyone was doing a three-person pyramid at that time and he wanted to outdo them. I have that same drive,” Wallenda said. “From his life, we’ve learned so much. One is to never give up—he’s pushed that into us for generations. It’s been passed on and passed on and will be passed on to my kids. Just that simple phrase, ‘never give up,’ if you’re devoted to anything, you can overcome anything. Through his life we’ve learned a lot, and through his death we’ve learned a lot.”
“Life On a Wire” premieres Wednesday June 22, 10-11PM ET/PT on Discovery.