CJ Perry is an American professional wrestler, wrestling manager, dancer, singer, model, and actress. She is best known by her ring name ‘Lana’ and is currently signed to the world-renowned professional wrestling promotion, ‘WWE.’ Perry started her career at ‘WWE’ in 2013, when she became part of the promotion’s developmental branch ‘NXT.’ She was eventually included in the main roster and started appearing in the promotion’s leading shows, ‘SmackDown Live’ and ‘WWE Raw.’ Though she has competed in various wrestling matches, Perry is best known for managing Bulgarian wrestler Alexander Rusev’s career. Apart from appearing in ‘WWE,’ she has also played prominent roles in films, such as ‘Soul’ and ‘Interrogation.’ In 2016, she became part of the main cast of the popular reality television series ‘Total Divas.’
Childhood & Early Life
CJ Perry was born Catherine Joy Perry on March 24, 1985, in Gainesville, Florida, USA. She grew up in the Latvian SSR along with her three younger siblings. As a kid, Perry aspired to become a ballet dancer. She went to ‘Riga Choreography School’ where she practiced ballet. At the age of 14, she started dancing with the ‘Latvian National Ballet.’
Perry returned to the United States at the age of 17, and started living in New York City. She then started performing at places like ‘Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance,’ ‘Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater,’ ‘Broadway Dance Center,’ and ‘Ballet Hispanico.’ She then joined ‘Florida State University’ in Tallahassee, majoring in acting and dance.
While attending ‘Florida State University,’ Perry supported the ‘Florida State Seminoles’ football team by attending their games along with several other students. During a game between ‘Miami Hurricanes’ and ‘Florida State Seminoles,’ Perry and her friends were acknowledged by commentator Musburger which increased their popularity.
Perry turned this popularity into a modeling career, working with brands, such as ‘RIDGID Tool Calendar,’ ‘Red Bull,’ and ‘Matrix.’ After graduating from ‘Florida State University,’ she moved to Los Angeles, California, in an attempt to establish a career in the entertainment industry.
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Perry started her career as an actress in 2008, when she was cast to play Arabella in a movie titled ‘Benny Future and the Madman from Manchester.’ In the same year, she also appeared in a TV series called ‘The Millionaire Matchmaker.’
In 2009, she joined a girl group called ‘No Means Yes.’ The girl group, which was signed to Ne-Yo's record label, comprised of Perry, Tanu, Kat, and Shea. After releasing a single titled ‘Would You Like That’ and recording two other singles, ‘No Means Yes’ disbanded in 2010.
After the dissolution of her band, Perry started working as a backup dancer for artists like Usher, Akon, Keri Hilson, Nelly, Rich Boy, and Pink. In 2011, she played a minor role in John Whitesell-directed action comedy film ‘Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son.’ In the same year, she was seen in TV series such as ‘The Game’ and ‘The Fresh Beat Band,’ and also played the role of a dancer in a TV film titled ‘Big Time Beach Party.’
Perry landed her first recurring role when she was cast to play Brit in the TV series ‘I.C.I.R.U.S.’ She played Brit from 2011 to 2012, appearing in seven episodes. In 2012, she played a minor role in Jason Moore-directed American comedy film ‘Pitch Perfect.’ The following year, she played Crystal in an episode titled ‘Wicks’ in the popular TV series ‘Banshee.’
In June 2013, Perry announced that she had signed with ‘WWE.’ She made her debut on October 23, 2013, when she appeared in ‘WWE NXT’ under her ring name ‘Lana.’ She then started appearing alongside Bulgarian wrestler Rusev, as she was portrayed as Rusev’s ambassador and manager. Subsequently, she was included in the promotion’s main roster, post which she appeared on ‘SmackDown Live’ in January 2014.
In 2015, Perry was cast to play the lead role of Alexis in a crime-thriller film titled ‘Soul.’ The following year, she landed another lead role in Stephen Reynolds-directed action film ‘Interrogation’ in which she played Becky. In 2016, she became part of the main cast of the popular reality television series ‘Total Divas,’ which follows the lives of female ‘WWE’ wrestlers.
At ‘WrestleMania 32,’ which took place on April 3, 2016, Perry fought against Bella in a tag team match, marking her in-ring debut in ‘WWE.’ On June 18, 2017, Perry lost her first televised singles match against Naomi. She fought against Naomi on two other occasions, losing both the matches. On July 23, 2017, Perry competed in an elimination match, where she was eliminated by Becky Lynch.
On January 28, 2018, Perry took part in women's ‘Royal Rumble’ match, where she was eliminated by Michelle McCool. She then competed in ‘WWE Mixed Match Challenge’ alongside Rusev. The tag team of Rusev and Perry defeated Bayley and Elias in the first round, marking Perry's maiden win in ‘WWE.’ In May 2018, she won her first singles match when she defeated Billie Kay in ‘SmackDown Live.’
Family & Personal Life
CJ Perry is of mixed ethnicity; her parents are of Venezuelan and Portuguese descent. Her father worked as a Christian missionary, while her mother was a ballet dancer. She also has three younger siblings.
Perry was in a relationship with former American football player and actor Isaiah Mustafa. After breaking up with Mustafa, she started dating fellow WWE wrestler Rusev whom she married on July 29, 2016.
Perry is active on social media platforms; she has over three million followers on Instagram. She currently lives in the United States of America, along with Rusev and her pet dog Joy.