As Sonya Deville, Daria Berenato works the ring on Fox's WWE SmackDown Live and she’s also made her presence known on E!'s Total Divas, which peeks into the lives of WWE females. Berenato also happens to be an out lesbian and an enterprising woman with other projects and messages to share, along with advice as to how to face the current crisis. Here is our powerful chat.
Hi, Daria. You’re certainly fit and together. What advice do you have for others right now?
I think it’s important to remain calm. It’s cool, in a weird way, that we now have free time to spend with family and loved ones. Hopefully, we can use it to spend undivided time with them. Typically, we’re always working and on the move.
But you can’t get too close!
Of course. Try to stay home and stay healthy. If everyone follows directions for the next few weeks, we can go on with our lives.
People can’t go to the gym now. How do they stay fit?
I don’t have any fancy home gym. I’m in the middle of trying to build one. I’ve been doing complete bodyweight workouts. I posted a few on my YouTube channel. If you have no equipment, there are so many good bodyweight exercises that can be done.
As for character building: How did your decision to come out arise?
I didn’t really decide. I was on Tough Enough, a reality show where winners get contracts into the company. On the premiere episode, I was doing an in-ring interview and the first question was, “Are you in a relationship?” I don’t think anyone had an idea if I was or wasn’t, or that I was a lesbian. I hadn’t told anyone. But I said, “Yeah, I have a girlfriend.” It was the first time I said those words out loud. I said it on television and was forced to live my truth from then on.
Were you worried that maybe they could fire you?
I wasn’t hired yet. I wasn’t with the company yet. I didn’t know if it would affect my chances on the show. I didn’t know what it meant. It was my naïve mentality back then. I wasn’t really okay with myself, so I don’t know how I expected anyone else to be. I wasn’t out yet, wasn’t open yet. I was young, having my first relationship with a girl, and I still had my guard up. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin yet. It’s crazy because it’s now four years later and I’ve never been more comfortable in my own skin, and I’m happy to advocate and give that confidence to someone else like me.
And I love that you’re a big fan of donuts—which is fine, thanks to all those bodyweight workouts. Tell me about your show, Damandyz Donuts.
It’s a YouTube series with me and my best friend and tag team partner, Mandy Rose. We travel all over the world with WWE and look for the best donuts and do a review show. We sample glazed donuts, so we can give a true judge of the quality and not deal with toppings. The best donut is in Lafayette Louisiana. It’s a tiny, little hole in the wall called Meche's Donut King.
My favorite topping is rainbow sprinkles, obviously. What about the fashion line you just started?
It’s called Rainbow Love.
Yes! I started it in partnership with Heavy Heart. It’s a very emotional line, designed to let people know it’s okay to feel and express those emotions you have going on, if you’re depressed or suicidal. We want people to know it’s okay to wear your heart on your sleeve and be as colorful or heavy as you want to be. On the back, it says, “You are not alone,” and it has the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number printed on it. Sometimes we all need a little bit of help.
Have you had a dark period?
Everyone goes through something dark, whether it’s a death or [grappling with] sexuality. Being closeted for so long was not being okay with who I was. I was putting restrictions and values on myself and my sexuality. A lot of it was from society and a lot of it was in my own head and not being able to wrap my brain around being different. I just wanted to be normal. But you grow up and get out in the world and get life experiences. I’m blessed to have my experiences and grateful I was able to change my own mind, and I hope lots of other people out there feel the same way.