FROM THE RING TO THE WORLD
Athleisure Mag|April 2020
We're excited to have Daria Berenato for this month's cover. She wrestles in the WWE under the name of Sonya Deville. This athlete started as an MMA fighter and transitioned into becoming a WWE Superstar who uses her platform as an activist for the LGBTQ community, supporting those that are looking to break barriers and of course continuing to expand her empire in fashion, acting and more. We also talked about her upcoming fight with former tag team partner, Mandy Rose on WWE SmackDown on May 8th!
Daria Berenato
ATHLEISURE MAG: Great to catchup with you and an honor to have you as our cover as we've enjoyed having Nattie, Carmella/ Leah Van Dale, Naomi/Trinity Fatu, as well - when was the moment that you realized that you wanted to be an athlete?

DARIA BERENATO: Oh my God, an athlete? From the first! I used to play basketball at 4 or 5 years old in the driveway. I spent my entire life playing sports from basketball to lacrosse, soccer, track and field. Then on to MMA – Mixed Martial Arts to professional wrestling. So, I don’t even know what my life would look like without sports!

AM: I remember you on WWE Tough Enough but you actually started as an MMA fighter! What was it about that sport that drew you to it and what was your transition to wrestling and joining the WWE?

DB: Yeah so when I was 15 or 16 years old, I was in high school and I played school sports my entire life. I just wanted a change of space and I wanted something different. I always had dreams of graduating from high school, moving far away and being on TV and acting as that was always a passion of mine. I wanted to explore something else also. I didn’t know if it was going to be playing a musical instrument or a marital art.

This was a discussion that I had with my mom one day. I had been watching a lot of MMA videos and had been watching Gina Carano, a big female fighter back in the early 2000’s/2010 probably when I was watching her. I thought it would be so cool to see a chick in a cage and get into a fight and then you see her interviews in a dress. It was so cool to see someone so badass and then to be able to see her feminine side. I liked the idea of someone being beautiful and then being tough at the same time. It was really cool and I became obsessed with the MMA. I started watching every UFC and every Pay-PerView fight night and eventually I was like, “I want to fight MMA,” and my mom was like, “I don’t even know where you would do that around here.” There weren’t any UFC gyms around here to do that. I went to a local boxing gym that was 45 minutes from my house and I started boxing judo and Jiu-Jitsu and I just loved how pure the sport was. I loved how it was a one woman sport, but that you had a whole team of coaches and training partners that you needed to work with together to get the win and stuff. It was just a really cool community and I loved it. So I moved to Florida to train with American Top Team which is one of the best teams in the world when I was 17. Literally, the day of my high school graduation, I drove down to Florida.

AM: Wow!

DB: Yes. I’m really impulsive like that. When I want something, I will do anything to get it and my heart and my mind is 120% in what I do. So yes, MMA is what I did. I fought and trained while also pursuing acting at the same time. I did that for the next 4 or 5 years and finally, I was hosting AfterBuzz TV podcast in LA where I was living at the time. Maria Menounos, is also part of the WWE family and used to be on E! News.

AM: She’s actually in this month’s issue as well! Completely random that this happened!

DB: No way! Aww that is like so perfect! So her and her husband owned Afterbuzz TV and they became mentors to me. They just took me under their wing and told me that they loved my attitude and they loved my spirit. They thought that I could do something special. So the WWE asked Maria to be on Tough Enough as a contestant and she was like, “hell no. I’m too old for this. But I have the perfect girl and she’s a fighter.” They called me and they thought I was going to say no because they thought that I was so MMA that I wouldn’t want to depart from it.

But they called me and I said yes right away because I saw the opportunity. I didn’t necessarily think that that meant leaving MMA at that moment, I just thought that it was a competition and reality show that sounded like a good opportunity. I just said, let’s do it. That led me to WWE and I ended up getting it. I mean, I was working my butt offto be ready for the tryout and to do the best that I could. I kind of felt out of place at tryouts because there were a lot of bikini world champions like Mandy and fitness models and I was just this little rough around the edges Jersey girl who fought MMA. I definitely stood out in that sense.

A couple of months later, I was hired and the rest was kind of history. I just fell in love with the world of WWE. It was everything that I had always been looking for. It was the performing and competition aspect all rolled into one for my career. Honestly, it was so meant to be and it’s just exactly where I should be.

AM: In terms of Sonya Deville, can you tell us about this persona and what are the similarities and differences between you and her?

DB: When I was first developing Sonya’s character, she was very simplistic at first. She was just a badass that was an MMA fighter who was coming into this world. All she cared about was fighting and winning. She’s a very straight to the point kind of character. Over time, being with Absolution (trio that comprised Paige, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville) on RAW and being on Fire and Desire (tag team of Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville) on SmackDown with Mandy and working with Paige in the past. It all kind of added to the persona of Sonya Deville. Because life experiences make us who we are as people.

So that’s kind of the case with Sonya. She was definitely third wheeling it a little with Absolution and with Fire and Desire, took a backseat to Mandy Rose because it was about Mandy’s magazine covers ironically. It was Sonya always taking the back seat to everything that Mandy was doing because that was just the dynamic of the team. So, Sonya had enough and a lot of what you’re seeing now on SmackDown is a compilation of everything that Sonya has been through emotionally. Everyone is starting to realize that Sonya is a bad B.

AM: Yeah she is!

DB: She doesn’t mess around and she has a little bit of an anger issue I think that we are starting to see and a little bit of an anger problem. But she’s calculated and much more calculated than what I think that we ever thought Sonya was. She’s not as impulsive as she once was. She’s more calculated and every move and everything that she does is made with intention and purpose.

AM: You guys have a fight this Fri on SmackDown!

DB: Yes we do!

AM: The internet is all over the place talking about this. So many of our readers are asking what you can tell us about this and any goodies you can tell as we will drop this issue a few hours before your fight!

DB: Oh wow! I think that you’re going to see a side of Sonya Deville that you have never seen before. Nobody has ever seen this before! She’s been waiting to get her hands on Mandy Rose for years! You have to understand that this isn’t something that just developed over night. The fans are just seeing it happen overnight because Sonya has been keeping it inside just planning and bottling it up. They have to understand that this is a plan that has been coming to fruition that has been in the works for 4 years. 4 years that Sonya has been getting stepped on and has been keeping a mental piggy bank of things that she can use against Mandy Rose. You’re going to see all of that come to fruition on Friday night!

AM: Oh my gosh. Well obviously we can’t wait to see all of this, how it develops and what happens afterwards.

So right now, when you look at the word normal, it’s an interesting word to say, but when you look at an average week as a WWE Superstar, what is it like with you training, getting prepared for matches and you guys are actively still participating in your sport where others are not able to do this. How has that been for you?

DB: We’ve all just kind of developed our own systems at home. Because obviously no gyms are open so I have been training in my home gym that I have built over the past few months. It’s great and I’m blessed that I have it as it is a space that allows me to stay in shape and ready at all times for the ring.

When we show up to film, it’s a completely closed set and we’re doing everything that we can – no crowd nothing! I think it’s pretty remarkable to see that we are able to go forward in a way that is still keeping everyone safe and healthy, but also being able to put a product on television right now so that people can hopefully be distracted for a few hours of their week and not have to think about everything else that is going on out there in the world right now.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM ATHLEISURE MAGView All

THE ART OFTHE SNACK Alfie's Bar + Kitchen

This month's The Art of the Snack takes us to Alfie's Bar & Kitchen where we find out about this organic and sustainable eatery. Chef Darren Pettigrew talks about what we should think about ordering from signature dishes to cocktails and how they have been navigating these past few months!

3 mins read
Athleisure Mag
December 2020

STOLEN MOMENTS WITH NIECY NASH

We have been fans of Niecy Nash for a number of years. Whether it was when we first saw her hosting one of our favorite shows, Clean House on The Style Network, her comedic talents in Reno 911! or her dramatic roles such as Netflix's When They See Us or FX on Hulu's Mrs. America - Niecy always steals the show with her dynamic personality and ability to absorb her role.

4 mins read
Athleisure Mag
December 2020

THE 355

FROM THE STUDIO THAT BROUGHT YOU JASON BOURNE

10+ mins read
Athleisure Mag
December 2020

THE FINANCIAL EXPERIENCE WITH GRANT SABATIER

As we continue into the holiday season and get prepared to transition into the New Year, it's time to think about setting our goals. We chatted with best selling financial author Grant Sabatier about how we can assess where we are financially in based on our hapiness and our goals. He shares his tips, how we can stay on budget during the holidays and setting ourselves up for success.

6 mins read
Athleisure Mag
December 2020

BY INSTINCT BENNY BENASSI

We talk with this month’s cover, Benny Benas with music, his favorite collaborations, how he stays inspired and more!

6 mins read
Athleisure Mag
December 2020

NEW YEAR N3W YOU

Each year in Dec and Jan, Athleisure Mag interviews celebrities to discuss their N3W YOU: THE GOOD, THE ADD and THE BUZZ.

6 mins read
Athleisure Mag
December 2020

BEYOND THE CONDIMENT with Chef Brandon Collins

When it comes to food, we all have our favorites from sides, entrees, desserts, sauces and more. We caught up with Chef Brandon Collins who is the Mustard Sommelier of Maille, a heritage Dijon brand which also includes an assortment of mustards, vinegars etc. He told us about what his job entails, how he stays up on mustards and their variants as a whole and also shares the culinary history of this brand! He also provides insights into the healthy aspects of it as well as how it is more of a condiment and a phenomenal ingredient to use when cooking a number of your favorite foods or even enjoying it with quality ice cream!

10+ mins read
Athleisure Mag
December 2020

ATHLEISURE LIST: Williamsburg, BK WINONA'S

Winona's launched last month in Williamsburg, BK. With a nod to this family-owned business with British roots. It has a focus on clean flavors and locally sourced ingredients.

2 mins read
Athleisure Mag
December 2020

ATHLEISURE LIST: EQUIPMENT + STREAMING CITYROW

Founded by Helaine Knapp,'s CITY ROW Signature-class format combines rowing intervals with strength training for a total body HIIT-style workout.

1 min read
Athleisure Mag
December 2020

For The Love Of Wine With Joey Wölffer

We enjoy a great glass of wine whether sipping it alone, happy hour Zooms or friends and family. When we think about one of our favorites, Wölffer Estate comes to mind. Whether we have sipped at their winery in the Hamptons or had a few bottles on hand for celebrations, it's one that we always gravitate towards. Joey Wölffer is continuing the tradition of great winemaking for this family-owned brand. She's also known for her sense of style and her boutique. We caught up with Joey to talk about the winery, innovations, their properties and more.

5 mins read
Athleisure Mag
December 2020
RELATED STORIES

Rising Star – Jessica McNamee – Blade Runner

Jessica McNamee is ready to knock us out in the new Mortal Kombat

5 mins read
Maxim
May - June 2021

WWE NETWORK MOVE TO PEACOCK PART OF VERY BUSY SPRING FOR WWE

World Wrestling Entertainment is used to making headlines this time of year leading up to WrestleMania. But the company has more on its plate leading up to its showcase event on April 10 and 11.

3 mins read
AppleMagazine
March 12, 2021

NON-ENGLISH SPEAKERS FACE CHALLENGES IN VIRTUAL LEARNING

Aporine Shabani escaped violence in Congo to find a better life for her children in Scranton.

6 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #473

Program Highlight

Florida Agriculture Literacy Program Modifies Events for Safety

3 mins read
Central Florida Ag News
October 2020

FAMILY TIES

TOP-5 SENIOR CAMERON BRINK GREW UP CLOSE TO THE CURRY FAMILY—YEAH, THAT ONE—AND HER OLDER “BROTHERS” HELPED GIVE HER A FIRST-CLASS BASKETBALL EDUCATION.

3 mins read
Slam
May - June 2020

ROMAN'S SECOND REIGN

After being sidelined with leukemia in 2018, WWE Superstar Roman Reigns returned bigger and stronger—both inside and outside the ring.

7 mins read
Muscle & Fitness
April 2020

Winning Syd

Sydney Mikayla Earned Her Way From Sidekick To Centerpiece In GH’s Teen Scene.

5 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
March 16, 2020

CJ PERRY

What was your favorite look from your Runway cover shoot and why?

6 mins read
Runway
Winter 2019

REDEPLOYED

The hardest assignment for this military wife— starting over

7 mins read
Guideposts
February 2020

Organization raises awareness of flotation safety

STONINGTON—Representatives of Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety were on the Stonington Fish Pier on Friday, November 8, with lifejackets and wetsuits heavily discounted to local fishermen.

1 min read
Island Ad-Vantages
11/14/2019