Fashioning a Diva
"Passion is my motivation and that's what drives me." Maria's passion has led her to becoming one of the most recognized Divas in WWE, being on the cover of Playboy, and countless other successes.
Performing has been a huge part of Maria's life since the tender age of 3. That is when she took up dance lessons. The SmackDown Diva played every sport offered during grade school, continued with volleyball and tennis in high school and joined the school's choir and dance team.
"I always wanted to entertain and that was first and foremost. Should I do my homework or should I work on my competition dance? Competition dance."
Despite performing whenever she could, Maria went through a period of stage fright. She often worried about how her audience would react to her, a fear she blames on having few friends growing up and the feeling of never being able to fit in.
When Maria did make friends, the majority of them were males. Between those friendships and her close relationships with her father and brother, Maria was molded early on for a career in sports-entertainment.
"I was always a wrestler," she explained. "I broke my brother's nose when he was 3."
Maria, her brother and her father would all wrestle on the living room floor while watching Superstars like WWE Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper.
After years of watching, Maria fell in love with former WWE Divas Lita and Trish Stratus.
"I remember thinking to myself, what powerful women."
She had no idea of how to get involved with WWE herself, but then she heard about Diva Search. She entered the competition on the last day possible and within a week, she saw her photo on TV when she was watching Raw.
While WWE defines much of who Maria is, it is not her only passion.
"I love music," she said. "I'm definitely a rocker. I just started playing the drums last year. I also take vocal lessons."
Maria credits her father for sparking her musical interest. He was a drummer while she was growing up. She would have been in a band herself if she knew more about music at the time.
"When I was little, my mom would say, ‘Oh my, that's horrible!' when I was singing in the shower."
That didn't stop her, though. She began writing music when she was in the seventh grade. And, writing would quickly become another passion.
"I will probably eventually write a book," she said. "It's amazing how many interesting people there are out there. I could write a book just on my mom. I love to write."
Most of what inspires Maria comes from people.
"I do have a muse and he knows who he is," she said. "It all comes from people."
Maria's brother spent nearly a year serving with the United States military in Iraq. He motivated her to attend every tour to visit the soldiers and to put smiles on their faces. Maria's sister is the one who keeps her morally sound, as her mother drives her to continuously push forward, and her father makes sure she stays strong inside and outside of the ring.
As her family holds her together, music serves as her outlet, particularly when she is working on her own secret recordings.
In addition to singing and writing, Maria expresses herself through fashion.
"A lot of people think of [fashion] as just clothes," she said. "But some of the biggest statements in the world have been made through fashion."
She cited when shorter skirts came into fashion saying they were created because the economy was struggling and using less fabric saved money. Whether or not people have a passion for clothing, Maria states, they are still making some sort of statement.
Maria often designs her own outfits, including ring gear and dresses. Her interest started as a result of Halloween. Maria's mother would make unique costumes for her and her siblings, leading her to love dressing up at a young age.
"As I grew up, we didn't have a lot of money," she explained. "So, when I was entering bikini contests, my choices were -- go with a real ugly dress or make one. So my mom and I opted to make them."
Although she hopes to have her own clothing line someday, Maria desires to be a Diva for as long as possible.
"I made it to Diva Search and I'm a wrestler," she said. "Even if I'm not always in the ring, I hope to be part of WWE forever -- no matter what form or fashion."