The best performers in sports entertainment are those who embody their character so well that the audience forgets the person is bringing a persona to life. WWE Superstars like John Cena, A.J. Styles, and Alexa Bliss, for example, work the mic with the same skill and precision that they use in the ring. Another example is relative newcomer Lana, whose thick Russian accent, nimble moves, and an ability to work the crowd have allowed her to progress from a manager to in-ring performer.

To get there, she put in the work inside and outside the ring. For one, her signature accent is reserved for Lana and vanishes when she turns back into C.J. Perry, the Florida-born gal who speaks fluent English.

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Also known as the “Ravishing Russian,” Perry’s character was inspired by the 13 years she lived in Eastern Europe, but her character’s popularity should be attributed to Perry’s ruthless work ethic. To get to where she is, Perry first had to overcome some learning disabilities, namely dyslexia. To do so, she employed tactics like listening to her scripts audibly to speed up the learning process.

Second, Perry makes a point to work out once a day, which includes mixed martial arts, Krav Maga, and Olympic weightlifting. “It’s made a difference in both my body and my in-ring performances,” she says. Lastly, Perry manages her full-time wrestling schedule with frequent appearances on the E! show Total Divas. For C.J. and Lana, the work never stops.

And she doesn’t mind one bit. After all, Perry is the first to admit that while she’s had difficulties in her career, her ability to keep fighting through her struggles has gotten her to where she is today in the WWE. “In this industry, you have ups and downs,” she says. “It goes in waves. So you have to live your life that way. You have to be prepared for when the tide goes out.”

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