I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with one of the most influential women in our time, Joanie Laurer. Joanie has accomplished so much in her career that her resume and list of accomplishments seem endless. We admire this woman for her passion, her strength, her ability to encourage others, and her enthusiasm for life. Among her accomplishments include two top-selling magazines, a book featured on the New York Times best- selling list, numerous championship belts, international fame, product endorsements, and movie roles. In this interview, Joanie Laurer opened up about her perceptions on life, relationships and her battles with domestic violence.
Moreno: Joanie, thank you again for joining me today. The last time we saw you was at Vh1’s Surreal Life reunion show. At this time, you made positive changes in your life, can you comment on those changes?
Joanie: I think that the positive changes were my separation from several things that were destructive in my life. And since then, I have become an advocate for individuals in violent relationships, even more so because I went through one. Being a public figure there was a lot of things I did wrong, dealing with fame and trying to have a private life, because I didn’t know how to deal with them. Most of the time I didn’t know how to deal with them [violent relationship], so I kept many things hidden. Instead of trying to deal with my problems, I thought they would naturally go away. But in retrospect, I have learned that those things [domestic violence] don’t go away. And so the lesson that I learned was to take the risk and do what you have to do to separate yourself from that situation by asking for help. In addition, many women do not know how to handle such a situation. It’s really hard to fight alone and so I had people support me, who encouraged me to walk away from a relationship that was doing more harm than good.
Moreno: When you began to gain support, was it then that you decided to make positive changes in your life?
Laurer: No, I had already made that decision before but I was not ready to make those final changes. Nor did I have the support to make that change, because many people don’t like hearing about things or being around negativity. Plus, they have their own lives to worry about, and I don’t blame them for not wanting to be around that. Even more so, I don’t think a lot of people know what to do in that situation. I wasn’t aware of any programs set up to help women in situations like this. Most women don’t do anything because of fear, but they’re already experiencing the fear and the worst part of it. The answer to the question is yes, I knew I wanted to change but it became a process for me. Since ending my abusive relationship, I am in a happier place.
Moreno: What are the happiest moments in your life?
Laurer: I would say that there are two happy moments in my life, which top the chart. The first was when I had the opportunity to fight in Japan. For that fight I was invited to wrestle by the New Japan Wrestling Corporation where I trained over a year with different fighters. When I went to fight it was with the mentality that it was with a positive message for women, but looking back I wouldn’t do it again. I was very appreciative of the invitation and it was very humbling. My experience in Japan taught me how to defend myself, and I consider that a gift. The second happiest moment in my life is right now, and I’m in a place where I’m looking forward to more. I’m in a place where I am enjoying just being at peace. I feel better than ever, I feel I look my best and I’m starting my acting career by going to several auditions. But there is still more growing to do, and in the future I know I will appreciate where I am right now. I feel that I have survived, and I wake up happy. Like everyone else, I’m basically living my life and I’m enjoying it very much.
Moreno: We’ve spoken about your positive changes, and how your life has changed. Can you comment on your beliefs on spirituality and your motivation?
Laurer: I do consider myself a very spiritual person. All the choices I have made were to better myself. They may not have been the best choices, but they never came from the wrong place. All my choices came from a good place inside. Not being spiritual is almost being greedy or it’s something negative. Being spiritual is trying to constantly do well and make a positive impact. I never expected my life to turn out this way, and I feel blessed to experience the things I have experienced.
In terms of motivation, I have to talk about my career. I never intended to be a wrestler but things turned out that way, and I ended up being the greatest female professional wrestler. I never wanted to come across in a way that was sexual, but I wanted to feel beautiful and I wanted to show people that women come in all shapes and sizes. I wanted to write a book about my life but didn’t expect it to be a best selling book. So, what motivates me are people, my surroundings and music. How I view how others view me helps me appreciate what I have done. Ten years ago people would see me on the street and throw things and call me names, but now people approach me with loving arms and many thanks.
It’s very humbling when people know who you are. When I was on Surreal Life, it affected a lot of people by exposing them to my life and how I suffered.
Moreno: What advice would you give young females who are interested in the entertainment business?
Laurer: The most important thing is to surround yourself with good people. When I began the business, I didn’t know everything, so I was around drugs and things I knew were not right. The best thing you can do is to be true to yourself and surround yourself with the right people. It’s important to stop and contemplate about your life and its direction. It’s ok to be alone sometimes, so you can think.
Moreno: Since you’ve experienced so many things in your past relationships, including abuse, do you see yourself in a relationship again?
Laurer: Definitely. I am a relationship person, but it’s difficult. It took me awhile to start dating again. And since I am in the public eye, it’s hard for people to get involved. I don’t know about family, since I have never had it.
Moreno: Do you ever search the Internet and read the blogs or websites that many of your fans set up in your honor?
Laurer: As of now, I do not. However, I am aware of one website called alivingwonder.com, which is constantly keeping tabs on me and looks out for me. Even though I don’t look at the sites, I’m very appreciate of my fans who take the time to do that.
Moreno: Would you ever consider returning to professional wrestling?
Laurer: I still receive offers all the time. And sometimes people say that I said I plan on returning. It’s been eight years, and I will not return to wrestling. I am very proud of what I have done, but I have grown and I am looking forward to future endeavors. But no, I will never go back.
Moreno: What is next for Joanie Laurer?
Laurer: After doing Surreal Life Fame Games, which airs on Vh1, I’m still looking for the right medium for me. I also have a film coming out titled, Illegal Aliens. In addition, my experience with Surreal Life has been so wonderful and I’m so appreciative to the Vh1 family. I want to continue to act and work with Vh1. I would also like to do more movies and perhaps do something in Las Vegas. And in a way I’ m starting over, and it’s very exciting. I believe because I am so unique that the right thing with my name on it has yet to come, but when it does it will be great.
On a side note, I would like to extend a special thank you to Ms. Laurer and her comments on social justice and human welfare. You can catch Ms. Laurer on Vh1’s Surreal Life Fame Game and on the big screen in Illegal Aliens. For more on Joanie Laurer please visit www.JoanieLaurer.net