The biggest thing I wish someone told me before I started my career is not to listen to the doubters and naysayers. I truly questioned my abilities at one point based solely off of people saying I wasn’t good enough. I’m proud to say that I no longer live my life that way. You can’t listen to the negativity. I know who I am and what I’m capable of, forget anyone who tries to convince me otherwise.
As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Leah Van Dale.
E! Total Divas and WWE superstar, Leah Van Dale (Carmella), is well known for her fierce attitude and even fiercer physique, but there is a lot more to the fitness queen who boasts over two million followers on Instagram alone. Leah has been involved with fitness her entire life. She has been dancing since she was three-years-old and before making a name for herself in WWE, she was a cheerleader in the NFL and NBA (New England Patriots and Lakers.) The Dynamo earned her first success in WWE as the final pick for the 2016 draft to fill out SmackDown LIVE’s Women’s division. From that point forward Leah’s résumé began to expand at lightning speed. She won the first-ever Women’s Money in the Bank Match (and the second), defeated Charlotte Flair to win the SmackDown Women’s Championship, and won the second-ever WrestleMania Women’s, Battle Royal. Her competitiveness is matched by her creativity, which exploded in the freewheeling sideshow of the Mixed Match Challenge, where she joined forces with R-Truth to originate an endearing seven-second dance break en route to winning the competition. From the field to the court, to the ring, and beyond — Leah is consistently proving that there isn’t anything she can’t accomplish. She most recently has expanded her career as a successful business woman with her new wine brand, Capo Cagna. Capo Cagna truly aligns with who Leah is as someone who is fearless on and off camera. Loosely translating to “Boss Bitch” in Italian, Leah describes a Capo Cagna as “a strong, successful, and independent woman.” She focuses on inspiring women to feel strong, empowered, and unapologetically themselves.
In addition to being a fitness queen and savvy business women, Leah is very excited to announce the release of her brand new podcast, “Bare with Us”, alongside her boyfriend, former WWE fighter and global broadcaster, Matt Polinsky. Leah & Matt bare it all, literally, diving headfirst into challenging relationship issues that people are often too afraid to discuss as well as opening up about their day-to-day struggles that fans often do not see behind their seemingly perfect lives on social media. The goal of the podcast is to normalize some “taboo” topics, all while navigating their own relationship. Nothing is off the table.
Her career is a testament to hard work, perseverance and making the most of every opportunity that comes your way.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path starting your own Wine?
I wanted to create a brand that empowers women and men to embrace their inner boss bitch. I grew up in a big Italian family. We had Sunday dinners every week and everyone had a glass of red wine with their pasta. It was a staple in our house and I just fell in love with the tradition and how it made me feel connected to my family. I love the Italian culture and it always reminds me of my childhood. I love to unwind after a big show or match with a glass of red wine, it just makes me so happy and I want to share that passion with my fellow wine drinkers. I want to spread the message of positivity and inclusion with my wine label, Capo Cagna, which translates to “boss babe” in Italian. The mission statement? Caution: it’s not for wine snobs! It’s all about feeling boujee but on a budget. A wine that makes you feel like a million bucks yet doesn’t break the bank.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or take away that you took out of that story?
I would have to say when I first had an event for my wine, I barely knew anything about the industry. Clients and customers were asking me questions about the complexity of the wine and I felt like a deer in headlights. I was so embarrassed. So I went home and hit the books. I knew I didn’t want to be in that position again. I still have SO much to learn about the wine industry and business, which is exciting. I learn something new every day.
What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?
I wouldn’t want anyone to emulate my success. I would encourage them to find their own path and create it in a way that’s unique to them and their journey. I would encourage them to put in the work and time to get where they want to be. It’s not going to be easy, but if you want it bad enough it will be worth it. You also have to make sure you’re passionate about what you do. I say that because there will be days when you want to give up, but if you’re doing something you absolutely love, you will push through and keep grinding.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
My sister is the most amazing person I’ve ever met. She inspires me every single day to be a better person. I don’t know where I would be without her.
How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?
I’ve really tried to use my social media platform to show young women that what you see on the internet is not real life.
Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
I just feel like social media can be so negative. I find myself comparing my life, my body, my relationships to what I see on the internet. I know if I’m doing that, there are people who are doing that with what I put out there as well. So I try to find this balance of putting my “best self” and my “real self” out there so young women can realize that no one is perfect.
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
I love all of the messages I get from women saying they finally feel comfortable in their own skin. Some of them say they finally feel ok to post something without makeup of a filter and that really makes me happy. We have to stop comparing ourselves to this false sense of reality that social media portrays.
Are there three things that individuals, society, or the government can do to support you in this effort?
Yes, to be ok with your flaws. Don’t always edit everything you post. Be brave and allow yourself to be vulnerable.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or an example for each
To be perfectly honest, I don’t have five. The biggest thing I wish someone told me before I started my career is not to listen to the doubters and naysayers. I truly questioned my abilities at one point based solely off of people saying I wasn’t good enough. I’m proud to say that I no longer live my life that way. You can’t listen to the negativity. I know who I am and what I’m capable of, forget anyone who tries to convince me otherwise.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
That is what I’m trying to do with social media. To bring awareness to this necessary evil in our phones.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
“If you want something, go get it. Period.” From the Pursuit of Happyness. No one is going to hand you anything. I’ve worked for everything I have and I continue to grind every single day for my goals. Nothing worth having is going to come easy so go out and put in the work.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I really just want to be best friends with Jlo. Or at least dance with her. A girl can dream, right??
Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success.