Interview by: Shaine Freeman
Few women have accomplished what Mickie James has. The championship professional wrestler, turned recording artist, has made a living drop kicking her opponents (and obstacles) out of the way. Whether it is in the wrestling ring in front of 50,000 screaming fans, or on a stage singing her latest country music hits to a crowd of 10,000; Mickie James was born to entertain the world.
While Mickie has seen a great deal of her dreams in entertainment come true, the journey hasn’t been an easy one. Like so many women in entertainment Mickie James has had to face the harsh criticism of naysayers who doubted her ability to become a successful wrestler. But, in true championship fashion she took on all comers and proved her worth in the male dominated world of professional wrestling.
Now, Mickie James has taken on a new challenger…the music business. Armed with a new record label, amazing songs, and a big-time singing voice, the world champion diva tells us just how she’s rocking it in 2013. Get prepared to be drop kicked!
IAE: Lets start with where you’re from and how you got interested in music and professional wrestling?
MJ: I’m from a small town called Montpelier, Virginia right outside of Richmond. Music has always been a part of my life and I played the violin all throughout school. I also grew up on a horse farm so I’ve always been an athlete and very competitive. My friends would laugh at me because they knew every Monday and Thursday, my TV was set on wrestling because I was so infatuated with it. Thanks to my dad, I became a huge fan of wrestling.
One day, a friend encouraged me to check out this wrestling school outside of DC, which was about two hours from my house. So, I went to the school one day to check it out and that’s when I knew I could do it. I started wrestling in late 1998 and in early 1999 I had my first match. I pursued it and climbed my way up the ranks until I was able to secure a job with WWE around 2003. I debuted on TV around 2005 and we were on the road over 250 days out of the year. While on the road I started writing again, but this time it was more to melodies and music instead of it just being poetry or my thoughts.
Everyone has an opinion and it doesn’t mean it’s worth anything. Just go after your dreams and ignore the naysayers.
IAE: I’m sure you had your fair share of naysayers from both angles; as a female wrestler, and then transitioning into music, right?
MJ: Absolutely! I’ve been hearing the word “no,” all of my life and I’m not afraid of it at all. People would tell me I’m too short, or “you’re just a small town girl chasing a big dream and you won’t make it.” But, all of the no’s and negativity just fueled my desire to go after it even more. The same goes for music, but I’m determined to just be myself and allow others to see this other side of who I am. My hope is that people will give my music a chance and take a listen to it.
IAE: Has it been tough for you to separate the wrestling world from the music world?
MJ: Yes, but I don’t negate who I am, as far as the wrestling world. I’ve been very blessed to create and establish a legacy in the wrestling world. But, I am trying to find that balance of separating who I am in the wrestling world and who I am in the music world, because I do want to establish myself as a singer. Honestly, without the wrestling platform, I wouldn’t have had some of the opportunities that I’ve received along the way. Wrestling will always be a part of me, and I’m grateful for it.
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IAE: You’ve been working on your music since 2010, but what was it that motivated you to give music a real shot, career-wise?
MJ: I’ve always aggressively pursued everything in life that I wanted to do. Music has always been a passion of mine, but it’s also the one thing that I was scared of the most. So, I faced my fear and went to Nashville to record the 3 songs I had written. At that point, I was so proud of myself that it didn’t matter if my mom was the only one who was ever going to hear it. [laughs]
About a year ago, everything started coming together and I’ve been learning so much about the music side of entertainment. I think I was just nervous about pursuing a music career because I didn’t know what to expect.
Plus, being a star in the television and wrestling worlds, I had that fear of people judging me for crossing over into the music world. I’m thankful that I was able to overcome that. You have to go after what you want and don’t worry about what other people think.
IAE: Tell us about your album, Somebody’s Gonna Pay, how did the deal with eOne Music come about?
MJ: For my first album release we did a Kickstarter campaign. So we were going to try that again with a 6 song EP. The songs turned out absolutely amazing and so my management team started talking to labels. They met with Dan Fletcher and he believed in me. We went back into the studio in September to finish up the album and now have 11 great songs. Somebody’s Gonna Pay is an old Jamie Hartford song and when it was presented to me, I was a little unsure about it because I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. My producers reassured me that they were going to rock it out; it really turned out awesome. I’m glad I trusted them because it became the theme and the feel for the whole album. Blake Jude produced the music video and my friends Trish Stratus, Jeff Jarrett and Magnus from TNA made a cameo appearance.
All my friends in Nashville also were a part of the video, which was really cool to have them share this experience with me. The single, Somebody’s Gonna Pay, is on iTunes and the album comes out in May.
IAE: I’m always amazed by people who are able to utilize multiple talents in vastly different mediums and be successful at it. How exciting is this time in your career?
MJ: It is very exciting! I recognize everyone has different tastes in music and not everybody is going to love all of what I do. But, my fans are so supportive and they want me to be so successful in what I love to do, which is so cool. It’s wonderful to know that my fans are going to love and respect me regardless of what I do. The things that I’ve learned in the wrestling world have aided me in crossing over. I’ve had that fearfulness of singing on stage in front of a few thousand people, yet, I wrestled in front of 90,000. This is an exciting new journey for me.
IAE: What advice could you give to young women and girls about how to overcome self-doubt and fear when they’re pursuing their passion?
MJ: You have to believe whole heartily that you can do it. In this world, people will always try to bring you down because of their own fears and insecurities, but you can’t allow yourself to stoop to that level. Visualize where you want to go and who you want to be. If you can see it, then you can believe it; and if you can believe it you can become it. You really do have to believe in yourself. Who cares what everyone else thinks!
Everyone has an opinion and it doesn’t mean it’s worth anything. What are you paying to get their opinion? Absolutely nothing! So, don’t worry about it. Just go after your dreams and ignore the naysayers.
IAE: What would you like for your fans to know about your feelings toward them?
MJ: I’m incredibly grateful to them. I feel like I’ve earned their respect in a lot of ways, but they have no idea what their support, love, and admiration has done for me. It means the world to me. I always try to take time out to connect with them and do different Meet-n-Greets. When I meet them, I want them to know that I’m truly and genuinely grateful to them. Without my fans I wouldn’t be where I am today and, I wouldn’t have been able to do all these wonderful things. I don’t take any of it for granted and I can’t thank them enough for all of the love they’ve given me.
(Originally published March 2013 in Volume 4, Issue 21)