PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRISTOPHER PATEY
STYLING BY ERIC OWES
PHOTOGRAPHED AT THE COMMODRE HOTEL, LOS ANGELES
It’s a rare moment when Imagista covers WWE but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to speak with the truly inspiring Ashely Sebera (aka Dana Brooke) who has taken the WWE by storm and won over the hearts and minds of its massive fanbase.
Imagista: How did you get into the world of wrestling?
Ashely Sebera: My journey has been one of a kind! I am very fortunate that the opportunity presented itself to me! I was a gymnast for 18 years… and gymnastics was my life- when I was younger, I was at the level where my parents would adjust my school schedule to be able to practice and perform at the level I was at. School and studies always came first, but gymnastics was my life, I competed all around & went to Nationals as well as competing in the Jr. Olympics, with the Olympics being my goal but unfortunately injuries had started to take over and I couldn’t recover fully and pick up where I left off. I was then introduced into diving, I know sounds completely crazy, but a lot of gymnast transition into diving as well. I competed in diving where I won districts and went states within my first few months of diving. Diving just was not my thing, I tried it but was not in love with it. Obviously, I am a girl and I hated getting my hair wet, also freezing getting out of the pool & for conditioning I had to swim… it’s completely funny thinking back on it now but it just wasn’t my thing. I was completely lost at that point and I had no idea what I wanted to do, my dream was to be in the Olympics, but obviously that was not going to happen. As I mentioned school always came first in my family, so I went to KSU for Fashion Merchandising & design with a Minor in marketing & bachelor’s in science. I worked the 9-5’s jobs, merchandising manager, opened up a fashion boutique with a family, but I wasn’t used to that type of lifestyle, I needed to be active! My friend Sarah had mentioned to me about competing in fitness & bodybuilding where she would start training me and help me with my nutrition plan. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but when I started back up in the gym training and lifting, I felt like I was where I needed to be! I controlled my destiny here and could be dedicated to something and be determined to succeed. I then won my first show and it was an uphill climb from there. I met one of the most famous trainers Mike Davies who had trained and got me my pro-card in the IFBB in 2012. I competed on the pro level competing all around the world with the Arnold classics & Mr. Olympia. I was in Spain competing, and a gentleman asked me if I ever heard of WWE and were interested in wrestling. I was in total shock and couldn’t believe it, I felt at that point in my career I needed that next platform to spread my message, promote women empowerment, also wanted to inspire children to never give up on their dreams. WWE gives you that platform, plus it’s everything I have ever wanted in my life as far as being active physical and entertaining! It was the perfect fit for me, and I went to Tampa Florida where I stepped into the ring for the very first time, and I fell in love! This was my calling, this was my home! Six years later here I am living the best life with the best company in the entire world, and another 5 years ahead! I cannot wait to see what the future holds because I love to represent the company and do all the outreach programs they offer, along with performing in the ring, and hopefully soon one day be the women’s champion!
Imagista: What does a typical day of training look like for you?
Ashely Sebera: It truly all depends! Something I had to learn was that there could never be a set routine or schedule! The road life is something I can’t even explain, it’s just something one needs to experience. You have to make the most of the time your given and fit it in when you can because your schedule is constantly changing. I’m typically one to get out of bed first thing and do Fasted Cardio. This has been something that works for me and when I get out of bed I need to be active. It jump starts my day and I usually do 45 min of treadmill, elliptical or stair master, which is where I also do my daily reflections and pray! Then, I usually go grab some breakfast, eat a meal or two and find a gym nearby. If I’m on the road, I’ll lift and do my strength training in the afternoon. Later that evening, I report in for the Show (WWE) and do a bit of stretching. Sometimes if I think of new moves or things I want to try, I get into the ring, find someone to practice with and will also ask my coaches and producers for input. WWE offers all the tools to succeed, it’s just how each of us performers use them that matters. Fit Finley and Sarah Stock along with Triple H, Michael Hayes and of course Vince, always give me feedback and help us succeed! When I’m at home in Cleveland Ohio, I switch up my training and do more of a CrossFit high intensity workout at a gym called Perpetual Fitness. Recently my #1 training partners are my mom, dad and sister! It’s crazy how motivating it is to have your family by your side training with you! I’m not kidding when I say my mom, dad and sister are absolute beasts in the gym! It pushes me more than ever and makes me so incredibly proud! When I’m in South Florida, I train at the world-famous private gym of Flex Lewis, multi Mr. Olympia champion, my ex-Boyfriend Dallas, who passed away, introduced me to Flex and he and his wife became family to me. He opened his gym to me and the energy and atmosphere there is contagious. It feels like family and a home where you just want to become stronger mentality and physically! Each person has their own routine, but recently I have found the perfect balance for me that works! I always try to give everyone the best advice I can, but overall just listen to your body!!! Become the best version of yourself mentally and physically!
Imagista: How does it feel to have a career that surrounds you with other strong women?
Ashely Sebera: It’s the best feeling in the world! The world unfortunately is a very harsh place, and with social media makes it extremely difficult to feel accepted, beautiful, confident, strong, and puts others down to bring themselves up! The WWE’s Women’s Division empowers one another inside the locker room, but also spreads it all over the world to uplift one another and accept yourself for who you are and embrace it! It’s a beautiful time to be a part of the women’s division here because it’s all based around women’s evolution and growth. We have such a variety of women that it makes it so strong, and we always support one another every step of the way. It’s a sisterhood and a bond and it goes further than the locker room, we meet so many other athletes, actresses, & singers who support what we do, and we support them as well! Women can run the world. there is nothing more powerful than other women supporting each other! We can change society & we are!
Imagista: How do you stay so motivated and disciplined?
Ashely Sebera: It is my nature, my upbringing, and the experiences I have been through in my life! My parents instilled great morals and values in my life and gave my sister and me nothing but love and support, and with that, I felt like I could succeed in anything I put my mind too. In gymnastics, it taught me to be independent. I could never count on anyone besides myself, and at the end of the day, no one has your back like yourself. Gymnastics showed me that hard work and dedication and determination pay off. I never quit. I cannot quit! There is a difference between failing and quitting, if you fail – you take away something and learn from it and continue to move forward, it’s ok to fail! Quitting forces you to fail and quitting is not an option because you are giving up on something and you should never give up because you cannot learn from quitting! That is the way my mind works with everything in life. I went through some of the most challenging times in my life where I have thought to quit many times, but I couldn’t. I lost the love of my life Dallas McCarver, and I cannot begin to explain that feeling. My faith was tested. My willpower to continue to move forward was tested. Self-healing was something I needed to reflect on. Two years later, here I am stronger than ever to talk about it and say, “TOMORROW IS NEVER PROMISED, make the most out of each and every single day!” It was the most tragic event I went through, but I pulled a negative event into a positive mindset. Dallas would never want me to quit or give up, he supported me, and I will always continue to be strong for him! Always stay motivated because you never ever know what tomorrow brings! You control your destiny, NO ONE ELSE! Be blessed for the life you are given and never give up!
Imagista: What is the hardest part about your job?
Ashely Sebera:: The road life- I always was a creature of habit and routine, you can say it’s set in my ways. WWE has taught me a great lesson without even realizing it; which is to be ready to adjust at any given moment. Now when things change, or I am in a different city each day, I need to learn how to adjust. The traveling is a beautiful thing because I get to explore the world but also it does get very tiring because of the time changes and the limited sleep. But then again, I reflect and think about how many lives I am impacting and inspiring. Every night I go out and perform it’s an adrenaline rush where energy kicks in! It all ties into my message- Live every day to the fullest because you never know what tomorrow brings! I am blessed with this opportunity & will deal with the hard times because the good outweighs the bad!
Imagista: If you weren’t wrestling, what do you think you would be doing?
Ashely Sebera: Hmmm great question! That’s like asking to live another life because I feel like every part of my life fits my path and my journey, and it has all connected someway or somehow! But if I could pick like a day in a life – maybe like a crime investigator (I love the first 48 show) or a judge – an influencer (motivational speeches) or the president lol WHO RUNS THE USA!!! Meeeeee 😉 peace love and happiness:) – but in all honesty I am blessed for the life I live and wouldn’t change it for the world!