WWE Diva Summer Rae sheds her villainous persona to talk about fitness, fame and the best fans in the world.
Dr. Cat Begovic: I know our readers are dying to get to know you, so let’s start with a little about your background.
Danielle Moinet: My dad is French and my mom is British. I’m the first person in my family to be born in the U.S. I was born on Long Island but moved to North Carolina at a very young age. I grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, and attended East Carolina University. I’m the first person in my family to graduate from college.
CB: How did you end up in Chicago?
DM: I had a desk job out of college and I remember sitting in front of a computer screen for 50-plus hours a week and thinking, “This can’t be the rest of my life!” So I picked a city and moved my whole life to start fresh. I had never been to Chicago and didn’t know anyone there. Actually, I hadn’t even seen much snow before that! It was a scary step, but no one is going to live your life for you! If you want change, then change it!
CB: How long have you been a fan of WWE?
DM: I’ve always been a wrestling fan. Growing up it’s what my dad and I did on Saturday mornings. We watched wrestling! When I was living in Chicago, I would tell my friends I couldn’t hang out with them on Mondays because I had to watch Monday Night Raw Live! When I’m backstage I still watch it and enjoy it as a fan!
CB: How did you break into the WWE?
DM: I was working at a Chicago Wizard World Expo, and I heard that some WWE superstars were there. Being a WWE Diva was always a dream of mine, but I honestly I didn’t know if it was attainable. There are only 14 girls currently on the roster, so it’s supercompetitive. I ran over to talk to them and told them how much I wanted to be a part of it. Then I bought tickets to a Monday Night Rawshow and I reached out to them, and they helped me set up a meeting. I went to the show early and was given a few minutes with the talent director and Triple H. I only had a couple minutes with them face-to-face, so I had to make it count! A month later, I was flying down to Florida for my tryout!
CB: I heard the WWE training camp is super intense. What was it like for you?
DM: It’s so overwhelming at first and physically tough of course, but mentally draining as well. We would train in the ring four days a week for hours and hours, then straight to strength and conditioning. It was really challenging, but almost all of the WWE Divas have gone through it. We’ve survived the hard days and all the ups and downs, and it brings you together. My training and my time in development molded me into who I am today, so I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
CB: What is the greatest thing about being a WWE diva?
DM: The greatest thing is the platform we are given, and utilizing that to make a positive impact. We truly have the best fans in the world, and our product reaches so many households and families. I’m able to be a role model for people around the world, and that’s so important to me. WWE has an anti-bullying campaign called “Be A Star” where we go to schools across the country and talk about the importance of showing tolerance and respect. Being able to work in the community like that is one of the best parts of the job.
CB: What’s the hardest thing about your job?
DM: I love traveling, but one of the hardest things is being away from family and friends. Being on the road almost 300 days a year, you don’t really have a home. I like to call my house my storage unit. At times I miss that normalcy, but I think if I did have a normal life, I would probably be bored.
CB: Do you enjoy all the attention?
DM: It’s funny, but being recognized is weird for me. To be completely honest, I still kind of don’t get it. I’m just me! If I’m at a big event like a football or basketball game, getting recognized gives me anxiety. I’m more than happy to take a picture and meet people, but when a group of people becomes a crowd I start freaking out. I’m perfectly fine with flying under the radar!
CB: How did your passion for fitness start?
DM: Well, you can say I was a late bloomer. In middle school I got picked on a lot for being thin. I didn’t have my first boyfriend until almost high school graduation. That’s right, no one asked me to prom! In Chicago, I didn’t have a car, so I walked everywhere. I started seeing changes in myself and then I started getting into weight training. I would see results and want to know why and how I could build on that. I was like a sponge!
CB: What ‘s your training schedule like?
DM: I lift four days a week, and on my fifth day I do HIIT if I have time. I try to do intense cardio twice a week, but because of my schedule I sometimes have to do it on a lift day. SoulCycle is my new favorite! I’m pretty obsessed with it, as we just got it in Chicago. I love the positivity in the class and the loud music. If I’m going to do cardio like that for an hour, I need someone yelling at me and pushing me!
CB: What ‘s your diet like?
DM: Right now I’m eating the most I’ve ever eaten and I’m the leanest I’ve been in years! Alex Carneiro [IFBB Physique pro] wrote me a meal plan at the beginning of the year, and I have learned so much since! Generally speaking, I count my macros and I have a goal every day to reach. I get so busy with TV that I actually undereat a lot of the time. I eat thee meals a day with two snacks in between. So five meals total, with lots of water.
CB: How do you stay in shape on the road?
DM: The first thing I do after traveling is Google the nearest gym. I get in a good workout, then I get to the arena and have my match. Sometimes we don’t get to the next city until four a.m. but I’m up at nine a.m. to hit the gym. This year I started ordering my food from ICON Meals and having them deliver it to me on the road. I can customize my meals to my personal plan. Bringing my food on the road has changed everything for me.
CB: How do you differ from your character, Summer Rae?
DM: Summer Rae is flat-out nasty! She’s mean and conceited and will stab you in the back in a heartbeat. That couldn’t be further from the truth for me. I treat others how I want to be treated, and that’s something my parents have always taught me. The best compliment I receive nowadays is that I haven’t changed. I am the same person I was before all of this, and that’s huge because so many people change once they become a public figure.
CB: Are your fans surprised when they meet you?
DM: Fans are shocked when they meet me! You never got to see who I really am on Total Divas, and I’m certainly not the diva I play on Raw or SmackDown, so fans are surprised. I take it as a compliment when people say, “Wow, you’re so nice!” I kind of wish everyone knew the real me, but I guess it makes my job of being a TV bad guy easier!
CB: What does the future hold for you?
DB: My career with WWE is important to me. Every day I try to get better and work on my skills. We have the best fans in the world, so I hope to make them proud. I love connecting on social media with others who are into fitness—so tweet me! Also, my family has a charity is North Carolina for medically fragile children, so I’m looking to volunteer as much as possible. The Dean Thomas Moinet Foundation is a great cause, so I want to help with events!
Name: Danielle Moinet
Profession: WWE Diva, actress
Weight: 133 pounds
Lives: Chicago; from Raleigh, North Carolina
Likes: Fitness, music, football, the beach, and wrestling
Dislikes: Smoking, snakes, spicy food
Favorite vacation spot: Anything tropical
Listens to: Literally everything—punk rock, metalcore, pop, soul, R&B, rap, country
Latest book read: House Of Leavesby Mark Z. Danielewski
Favorite quote: “Speak it into existence.”
Favorite workout song: “A Day To Remember” by 2nd Sucks
Favorite cheat meal: Pasta, pizza, and everything chocolate!
Favorite clean meal: Breakfast—three egg whites, one whole egg, oatmeal, and strawberries
Favorite exercise: Deadlift
My charity: The Dean Thomas Moinet Foundation (DTMfoundation.webs.com)
Text by Dr. Cat Begovic
Photography by Sarah Orbanic
Make up by Eileen Sandoval
Location: 220 Fitness, Santa Monica, CA
Special thanks to: WWE