July 2, 2012
Like some comic book action heroine, Eve Torres leads a double life. By day, she focuses her time and energy on things like speaking to high school kids about bullying and teaching self-defense tactics to women. By night, she pulls on her electric pink suit and kicks ass as part of the WWE’s wildly popular wrestling competitions. The duality of her life is clear when you compare the tough Diva--who can handle acrobatic take downs and fast paced boxing sequences--with the calm, down-to-earth young lady who graduated from USC with a degree in industrial and systems engineering. The ability to transform into such a strong character each night is what has led Eve to become such a popular performer. How popular? For starters, she’s got over over 400,000 Twitter followers. And her focused vision and innate business sense is shaping up to allow her to take the platform she has created for herself to the next level. She is definitely a rising star—aka Made Woman—to watch.
This Colorado native didn’t grow up with any Hulk Hogan dolls in her room. With her modeling and dance background, Eve was more interested in rond de jambe’s than roundhouses. But that didn’t stop her from jumping head first into the fiercely competitive environment of the WWE. This cultural phenomenon of professional wrestling started in 1952 and has grown to become a worldwide success with 13 million viewers, shows broadcasting to more than 145 countries, and over $600 million in revenue. While the elaborate stunts and dramatic storylines may not be for everyone, the WWE has millions of intensely loyal fans who tune in religiously each week to see who’s going to get the smack down. The passion and excitement of the packed stadiums were infectious and, at 23, Eve had found her niche. “I fell in love at my first show,” she says.
This former Clippers Spirit cheerleader always knew she was going to be a performer. With the hopes of getting back to doing what she loved, she entered the WWE Diva search in 2007 and was crowned the winner. While most people would have just taken the sweet contract and backstage hosting gig with a smile, Eve knew that she could take this opportunity even further, so she began training to compete in the ring. “I said if I’m going to be a Diva, I’m going to be a champion Diva. I’m going to change the game.” But you need more than a pretty face to be a good fighter. And you need to be more than a great fighter to actually become a recognizable face in the world of professional wrestling. “You are sort of thrown into the ring and have to learn in front of millions,” she remembers. While learning to not get her ass kicked, Eve had to quickly develop a character that people would want to root for, “I had to learn to tell a story with millions watching and hope people connect,” she says. And you thought your job was hard.
The choice to commit to the professional wrestling lifestyle is not an easy one. There are exhausting travel schedules (4-5 cities a week), mandatory public appearances, and intensive training. And then you have to deal with the people who can’t separate fact from fiction. There are those who think Eve really is the brash Diva she plays on TV, “If people hate you on TV they are going to hate you in real life.” But what you see on TV is a small part of her life. She considers herself a homebody and you can usually find her on the beach. She says the skills she learned in college, like pulling all nighters, time management, and communications are all things that help her with career balance.
Five years later, and Eve has definitely made a name for herself in the ring. This year alone, she appeared in the huge Wrestle Mania event, and won a championship title. If you visited a 7-Eleven you might have seen her face on one of their Big Gulp cups since she was featured the national SummerSlam promotion. Eve also plans to make a name for herself as a philanthropist with her work with the WWE, Make a Wish, Tribute to the Troop’s, and her own personal mission: teaching women self-defense. One of the fighting techniques that Eve has come to master is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. A special form of this fighting style was created at the Gracie Academy, where Eve teaches, so that a smaller, weaker person could defeat a larger attacker. A blue belt herself, she believes this martial art is perfect for women to learn and use for self-defense. “There are subliminal insecurities that come with being weaker,” Eve says. Knowing this, she uses methods like women’s only classes to create an environment where they can feel free to go outside their comfort zone, “some women will only want to train with other women.”
In addition to the Jiu-Jitsu classes she teaches, Eve was also asked by the Gracie family to appear in the “Women Empowered” series of training videos on self-defense. She says that getting to teach young girls self-defense is one of the biggest accomplishments in her career. She also speaks at RAINN events, an organization committed to providing support to victims of sexual assault. She sees herself as a role model and diligently protects her brand. “I stopped drinking three years ago and have had to turn down sponsorships because they don’t fit my brand.” Eve sees the WWE personality she has created as a perfect extension of her mission. “Girls need to see a female figure being strong.”
Eve is confident that this off-the-beaten-path career was meant for her and she feels she is providing the younger generation with a positive role model. Rather than take the easy route she has turned a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity into unique and useful platform championing the strength of women. At the heart of it all she has achieved her dream to be a storyteller and says “I love the idea of this powerful woman who can kick butt. I’m proud of that.”
You can see Eve in our very own "I Am a Made Woman" video, out later this month (sign up here to get an email when it's released!)