She’s not your usual reality television star, flirting for attention or posing for paparazzi photos on Hollywood Boulevard. Buff with a sweet side, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) star Eve Torres competed in a variety of physically demanding challenges in the NBC hit show “Stars Earn Stripes” and beat out seven celebrities including boxer Laila Ali, Olympic gold medalist Picaboo Street, actor Terry Crews and Todd Palin, best known as former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s husband and earned victory as the winner of the reality competition.
Intrigued by this Latina’s unique background – Torres is a two-time WWE Diva’s champion, a former dancer for the Los Angeles Clippers Dance Team and has a degree in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Southern California – we asked the braniac athlete to answer a few questions about what makes Eve Torres excel in the wrestling ring and on the small screen.
People often go into reality show competitions with the goal of winning, but without the drive to make it to the end. What do you think helped you achieve your goal of winning the show?
I am extremely competitive! Even though I was initially intimidated by the competition because I was out of my comfort zone, I was definitely in it to win. Most importantly, I wanted to earn $150,000 for the USO, an organization that is invaluable to our troops, but I also knew that it would be pretty epic if a woman won Stars Earn Stripes! I wanted to be that woman. I believe my attention to detail and willingness to learn is what kept me in to the end and secured my victory.
How do you think your strengths and background as a WWE champion helped propel you to a win?
Being a WWE Diva is a pretty tough job. We risk our safety every night to entertain our fans around the world, and I embrace that challenge. I definitely think I was a little more willing to take risks on the show than some of the other participants because of my line of work. Also, my training in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu has taught me that when you are not the strongest, biggest, or the fastest, you have to rely on strategy and technique to defeat your opponents, and that mindset is exactly how I approached this competition.
As a Latina, what has your experience in the WWE been like?
I pursued the WWE because it encompasses all of the things I am passionate about – performing, competing, traveling the world, and serving as a role model for young women and girls. As with working in any male-dominated industry as a woman, it comes with its challenges. But I truly feel like prevailing over those challenges makes success that much sweeter. Being Latina, I feel, was an asset. The WWE has a very large Latino following, and with the history of Lucha Libre, it is extremely popular in Mexico and in Latin America. I love engaging with our Latino fan base.
How did your Latino background help or hinder your goal to win “Stars Earn Stripes”?
I definitely feel like growing up in a Latino family (my father’s side), as well as an American family (my mother’s) exposed me to so many personalities! I think this has made me someone who knows how to listen, but also when to speak up. I know my success in this competition was heavily reliant on the chemistry I had with my partner. With my coach, Grady Powell, I knew when to listen, but I also didn’t take his criticism personally, and we got along great. The only downside is that, as a Latina, I am emotional! I felt like I was in tears every mission!
You’re gorgeous and buff! How do you balance your feminine and sporty sides?
Thank you! I think we tend to think there are two types of women: powerful women, and feminine women. But one does not cancel out the other! We can and should be both. Feeling “feminine” or “girly” does not in any way take away from our strength or power. For women who are overly concerned with showing any weaknesses, you just have to learn to not take yourself too seriously. You don’t have to be superwoman all the time! As for the women who wish to embody more strength either physically or mentally, I say take more risks. Do something “girls” aren’t supposed to be good at, and prove them wrong! Continue to push outside your comfort zone, and you will soon find yourself in a perfect balance of strength and femininity.
What’s next for you following your big win?
Aside from continuing to dominate the WWE Diva’s division on Raw and SmackDown, and pursuing some fun film and television roles, it’s important for me to always keep in mind the bigger picture. When I’m not in the ring, I am a head instructor of the Gracie Women Empowered self-defense program. Through this program I hope to help women everywhere realize their fullest potential through physical and psychological empowerment. I won’t stop until every woman knows what I know!
What do you want young girls and women to learn from your challenges – and successes?
My greatest successes have all been feats that, at some point in my life, I thought I could never achieve. You don’t know what you are truly capable of until you try the “impossible.” For me it was performing on stage in front of 70,000 people, attempting a physical task that I didn’t think my body was capable of, training jiu-jitsu with men much stronger than I am, or participating in a competition that I surely couldn’t win. Day by day, we start to redefine what is possible, but only if we attempt what we think is impossible. I hope that my experiences can help encourage other women and girls to pursue activities outside their comfort zone. To make your dreams come true, there is no better training than conquering the impossible!