By Rich Simmons
You may know her as WWE Superstar Vanessa Borne but I know her as Danielle Kamela, a fellow artist and someone who also believes in the power of creative therapy.
After seeing her post a photo on her art packed instagram with one of my paintings in a museum in America, I reached out and we have become friends. I've got to know the woman behind the WWE performer and learn about the passion for art that inspires and motivates her career as a sports entertainer.
I'm excited to pull back the curtain and go behind the scenes on a unique, fascinating and multi talented woman who I think you will all learn something new about in this interview.
We know you best as a WWE Superstar and a former cheerleader, but anyone who follows you on instagram can see you love art. How long has art been part of your life and has your love for art inspired anything with your wrestling career?
Art has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was always drawn to it, to the process of creating and exploring my own ideas through different forms of art.
I really enjoy putting my own artistic spin on everything I do, even if it’s something as simple as an Instagram photo.
When it comes to wrestling, art has had a big influence on my character Vanessa Borne. I see Vanessa Borne as a piece of artwork. From the way she dresses, to how she walks, talks and carries herself. She is art.
Is there any crossovers with how you find inspiration, whether it’s for a painting or a wrestling move or ring attire?
Absolutely. As a former cheerleader and dancer, I have found inspiration for wrestling moves through dance. When it comes to painting/creating artwork, I am very influenced by my current state of mind and what’s going on in the world. For ring attire, I look at a lot of high fashion trends. Fashion is another art form I’m a big fan of!
You’ve got an amazing mix of heritages, with Samoan, Polish, Chinese, German and Irish. Do these different cultures bring different forms of inspiration and influence your creativity?
I think I have a hard time defining where some of my inspiration comes from, but because I am made up of all these things, I think it would be foolish to think that it hasn’t influenced me in some form or way.
I grew up with a Polynesian mom, and a white dad. So learning cultural differences and finding my own identity within my heritage is an ongoing journey. I feel fortunate to have such a unique background and to be able to learn about it.
Did you study art in school or is it a passion and talent you’ve developed in your own time?
In high school I was in all the art honors classes and then went on to study a bit of art history in college.
Other than that, I have tried to expose myself to as much art as possible. My favorite thing to do when I travel is to go to art museums or public installations during down time. It has helped me develop my own style and use art as a release and for fun. I prefer to do more contemporary/modern style art. Aside from creating, I have a strong interest in learning more about art history.
Has art or creativity helped you through any difficult moments in life?
I believe in art therapy. I think it’s a great tool for anyone who is going through a difficult time.
So when I’m going through something, being able to channel my emotions into a piece of artwork has really helped.
Is creativity a daily thing for you or do you get days where it can become overwhelming? If so, how do you handle those frustrating moments where you hit a creative wall?
I go through creative dry spells all the time, or even worse, periods of time that I just have so many ideas, that I don’t do anything with them.
I’ve realized that when I hit a creative wall, it’s usually because I’m trying to force inspiration instead of letting it come to me. What I’ve found helps, is always having a notebook with me. It makes it so much easier to jot down ideas or thoughts throughout my day. I even keep one on my nightstand because I’m occasionally hit with some middle of the night inspiration!
Traveling the world with WWE and getting to see the world and meet new people must be very eye opening. What’s been some of the most inspiring places for your artistic side and is there any cities, galleries or museums you could recommend checking out?
There have been so many. I think you can find art anywhere and everywhere. In the architecture of a city, the food, the people.
I’ve also been really fortunate to have some free time on the road, where I’ve been able to visit a lot of local galleries and museums. I have always found something I’ve enjoyed in every museum I’ve visited, but I tend to frequent Miami and NYC for the art scene.
Being a professional athlete and performer means you have to be incredibly fit and healthy. Does working out and having a healthy lifestyle help with your creativity and mental wellbeing?
It does. It’s really important for me to have harmony and balance in my life. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps me achieve that. Harmony, balance and a healthy lifestyle lead to being more productive/creative.
Who are your favourite wrestlers, both current and past eras that inspire you the most? And who would you most like to wrestle from the current roster and from the history of women’s wrestling?
They all inspire me in their own unique way and I want to wrestle them all.
If you could give advice to people looking to discover their creative spark, what would you tell them?
You just have to get out there and DO. Read a new book, go on a new adventure, meditate, exercise, journal, meet new people, watch a film, listen to music or change up your daily routine.
If you could share a studio with any artist for a day, living or dead, who would you pick?
Oh wow! Really? You had to hit me with the hardest question last.
There are so many, but I would have to go with Frida. She’s my inspiration.