Essence recently spoke with Naomi, Bianca Belair and Ember Moon for Black History Month.
Belair talked about how she was a gifted athlete with the intellect to match, but she found that being a black girl on a mission to greatness was often met with resistance.
“I was always the bigger, muscular girl. Growing up, I was always told what I needed to look like to perform best and be accepted,” Belair said. “I knew that I was naturally smart, talented, and athletic, but was often told to tone it down and not be as ambitious. So, I felt like I needed to shrink myself to soothe other people’s insecurities.”
Moon said she believes pro wrestling created a receptive community for being an “out-of-the-box black girl” with interests in rock music, gaming, comic books, and of course pro wrestling. She recalled getting her first pop from a pro wrestling crowd.
“I remember having a match and the crowd erupted for me. It gave me goosebumps but also made me wonder, ‘Are they cheering for me?’ It made me swell with such pride that even though I’m the one in the ring, doing the moves, to have other people feel that elation, there’s no feeling like it in the world,” Moon recalled.
Naomi revealed that her “Feel The Glow” tagline comes from the 1985 martial arts comedy, The Last Dragon. The movie told the story of Bruce Leeroy, and Naomi said she was always inspired by his story.
“I was always inspired by the story of Bruce Leeroy and how he didn’t initially believe in himself but the glow and the power was in him the whole time,” Naomi said. “He just needed to believe it. It reminded me of so many spaces I’ve been in where I was ‘the only’ and felt like I needed to adapt to what everyone else was doing instead of just walking to the beat of my own drum.”
Moon also commented on why African-American women have true representation in WWE.
“It’s nice to walk into a locker room as you’re not the only African-American woman there,” Moon said. “It’s a beautiful thing. And we are all so different even though we are from the same culture. And that’s true representation.”