The countdown goes from 3, 2, and by 1 the Minute Maid Park arena in Houston, Texas streams neon lights where over 35,000 fans erupt in excitement. After months of taking a break, “Naomi” rocking a flowing blown out afro and custom bright, long-sleeved multi-colored leotard that compliments her beautiful brown skin emerges back into the World Wrestling Entertainment WWE ring. As a fan favorite, Trinity Fatu (Naomi) brings athleticism including poised and professionally trained dance moves that she channels from 8 years of age through a flourishing career as an Orlando Magic dancer.
“I did tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical and all the forms of dance. I knew from a young age that I wanted to be an entertainer. The ambition of doing Broadway or some form of theater was embedded very early,” Fatu told ESSENCE.
WWE athletes are far more than just wrestlers fighting in the ring. The production of each match incorporates music, fashion, visual production, and acting—a true theatrical display that encompasses art and welcomes diversity. Throughout a 10-year career and over 3.5 million followers on social media, Fatu has certainly set a new stage for Black Girl Magic and welcoming more women through her trailblazing lead.
For Black women, having a space that gives license to be talented and outspoken, partnered with the freedom of looking how you want and being who you are is often obsolete. But, not for the women of the WWE.
“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,” Bianca Blair known better as “Bianca Belair”, shared. This sentiment has been apparent through other incredible Black women athletes who have been body-shamed such as Simone Biles and Serena Williams.
Blair, a naturally gifted athlete who ran track, did gymnastics, played basketball, and possessed the intellect to match, found that being a Black girl on a mission to greatness was often met with resistance.
She continued, “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.”
Stepping into her own as a personality and a woman, Blair did away with playing it small. With the letters “EST” branded on everything from Blair’s long Beyoncé-inspired braid to her self-designed costumes, the culture of the WWE gives space for her and everyone to be exactly who they desire. In Bianca Blair’s case, that’s being the strongEST, the fastEST, the absolute bEST and giving herself the room to no longer be dim, but shine unapologetically.
The well-roundedness of Black women is incomparable. Just as much as we share there are also many ways that we diversify and show there’s no way to culturally put us in a box.
Adrienne Reese, better known as “Ember Moon”, believes wrestling created a receptive community for being an out-of-the-box Black girl. Reese’s interests expanded into Rock music, gaming, and comic books—outside of watching wrestling with her late grandfather.
“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,” she expressed.
Years of being tormented and bullied took a tumble to a community that embraced her 5’1 stature, colorful hair, and incredible strength. Wrestling brought out a confidence that allowed societal barriers to break and open a door to Reese being able to be who she was without any stereotypes. Because in the culture of the WWE, being extra and different is a plus.
“Feel the glow”, the tagline associated with Trinity Fatu’s, Naomi persona, came from the movie The Last Dragon.
“I was always inspired by the story of Bruce Leroy and how he didn’t initially believe in himself but the glow and the power was in him the whole time. 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,” Fatu expressed.
Her greatest inspiration lies within the younger generation of children that look up to her and aspire to higher heights including her bonus children and family members. For children and even other women to see themselves in her and love their skin tone, natural hair, and overall fierceness gives Fatu an ultimate purpose.
Bianca Blair urges that you don’t have to be for everybody and that’s perfectly okay. “I just want to be who I am and I’m going to show up for the people who I am for and represent for them.”
For Adrienne Reese, the feeling of being embraced by the WWE is shown and proved whenever she steps into her working environment. “It’s nice to walk into a locker room as you’re not the only African-American woman there. It’s a beautiful thing. And we are all so different even though we are from the same culture. And that’s true representation.”