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Former WWE and NXT Diva Karlee “Maxine” Perez joined The Rack Thursday Night. In a nearly 30 minute interview she talked about what got her interested in professional wrestling, her studies in criminology, how she felt when she got the call to be on NXT, what her time in FCW was like, who were her favorite people to work with, what was the driving force behind her leaving, if WWE Creative was receptive to hearing her ideas, her thoughts about NXT and where it ranked with other WWE programming, the infamous wrestling wedding she was involved with on NXT, her role in the upcoming film “Then the Night Comes”, what she sees her ideal film role as, who her dream opponent would have been and much more.
How she felt when she got word she would be part of NXT: “You know, I was trying not to have my expectations too high. I had been down in FCW for quite a while, the longest out of the group of girls that did, the first season we did of NXT and at that point in time my mind’s eye I felt I was as ready as I could be although realizing I still had a lot more growing to do and learning but I was pumped about it. I really wanted to bring something different that they didn’t have from the females, at least at that moment and that’s kinda what I concentrated on with NXT.”
What it was like coming through FCW: “FCW was a big eye-opener for me; it was an experience. You end up with a family because we are together all the time, non-stop, always. Training together, driving together, eating together, it’s just everyone is in your business and it just becomes really like a family. And, at the same time, it’s a family that we’re pretty much told that we need to claw your way to the top against each other, and sometimes you just don’t want to; sometimes you actually grow to like the people you’re around and you’re pretty much telling me there’s only one spot and I have to backstab this person to get it? You know, there were people that stood by your side and there were people who would watch you fall or at least try to.”
Who were her favorite people to work with: “You I had people. I got along with Naomi really, really well. Me and her were always buddy-buddy. Down there, there was always the same crew that would drive down to the shows together; I’ve got to think of their new names now, their new work names. We had Damien Sandow; he and I were real close. He’s hilarious and awesome; I think he’s doing great too. Also, Sheamus when he was down there; we used to drive to shows together. It’s amazing to see the difference in how much people grow in that business still. I’m very happy for those, the one that did and made it and experience such a good quality like they have. ”
On the WWE trying to get away from the “model” style performer and more towards the worker type girl and if she sees herself coming back because of that: “You know, it’s a tough question because I personally, in my opinion, think that WWE needs to just appreciate the women more at the end of the day, whether it’s a model type or not. If someone has talent or can bring something to the table then I think it should be looked at, not looked over. That’s kind of the problem these days with… I’m thankful for the great opportunity with them; I wanted to move on, and pursue other things but I know there a lot of good talent around there; a lot of women would die to be in my position, I just don’t want all them to get overlooked. So, everyone should at least have the chance, you know, model or not; if they think they can pull it off, then let them try it. If not, then move on. You just never know, right? I never knew, I never thought I would get to where I was so you just don’t know.”
What was the driving force behind leaving the WWE: “Over time, it just starts to wear on you. Obviously, it’s a massive company and it becomes overwhelming when you’re up there and you have a million things going on and a million people telling me that you should do this or that, or be like that or this and I felt, for myself, the way I was was good. It might not have been amazing, but it was good, it was different, and I was ok with that. I was comfortable in my own skin and I thought that came across but when I would get to the back I just felt like, probably like most people who have left the company, I didn’t feel appreciated. It’s not to bad mouth them or anything like that, I just felt I could bring more to the table then I was being allowed and I could just see the walls being built overtop of me each day and finally I just couldn’t… it wasn’t even planned. I was like ‘I’m either doing it today or I’m not doing it.’ So I just did it. You know, there’s always this time when it’s like “Oh, what if I would have stayed a little longer, maybe I would have gotten my chance, but you’ve got to stay with your gut and your instincts and my instincts told me that there were other opportunities for me in this world, and there would be other people to see what I have to offer and appreciate it. You know, if the time comes and if we ever cross paths again and me and WWE come to terms maybe it’s something we can talk about. I didn’t leave on a bad note, and from what I know, they’re ok with me and I’m ok with them; I just wanted to try something else. I love what I did though. I love my fans, I love entertaining and being out there. I loved ‘Maxine’, I mean it was great. It was a good thing”
If she has any future projects coming up shortly: “Yeah, it’s a suspense/horror film; I’m extremely lucky for the first film I landed a lead role, Julie is her name. The film is called ‘Then the Night Comes’ and we film in LA at the end of the year. Pretty much, a murder spree breaks out and the sheriff suspects me, Julie, that I’m the one causing all of this. My father was murdered and pretty much what happens throughout the whole town is that everyone one I come in contact with ends up dead or missing and they can’t seem to find out who the killer is and discover what I’m hiding, so it’s really a good suspense movie and it has a good cast too. My ‘brother’ is Massi Furlin, and he was actually just in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, he was just in the recent Batman movie, he was in ‘Sour Surfer’; he’s done some good films. And Romane Simon, who is the director, has already directed over 26 feature films. My ‘mother’ is Patrika Darbo; she actually was in ‘Mr and Mrs. Smith’, ‘Rango’, ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’. I mean, it’s a good cast; I’m extremely nervous but I’m very excited. I’m not going to lie; it’s a whole gig for me than WWE. I wasn’t expecting something like this to happen; this is what I wanted but you just don’t know when or how it’s going to happen and I’m very lucky that it did; that I’m getting the opportunity to at least do this and see what comes about.”
For more information about Karlee and what some of her future projects may be, you can follow her on Twitter (@KarleeLeilani). “Then the Night Comes” starts filming later this year in Los Angeles and Karlee will post updates as well as upcoming events and information through her Twitter and other social media for fans to follow!