Interview: Shawna Wiggs | Writer: McKenna Kelley | Photographer: Gabriel Burgos | Art Director: Scott Tennant
South Tampa Magazine: You recently filmed the first season of your new series “Total Bellas” in Tampa. What are some of the places you like to visit when you’re in town?
Nikki Bella: Bern’s is our ultimate favorite. The experience, the ambiance, tradition…
Brie Bella: I’m a vegetarian, and I love Bern’s Steak House.
NB: Bern’s is amazing. We also love the Epicurean [Hotel], it’s one of our favorite breakfast spots. Piquant is another favorite, as well. John [Cena, WWE Superstar and Nikki’s boyfriend] and I are regulars at Eddie V’s and Ocean Prime. I would say those are the spots we go to the most.
BB: My husband and I aren’t from here, and we don’t live in Tampa so, we loved whenever we could stroll on Bayshore. It’s so beautiful.
STM: When you’re coming to Tampa, where do you go for a healthy meal?
NB: I am huge with FitLife Foods. I love it. I mainly do it when I’m here. I love to count calories, so I know exactly what I’m putting into my body. Everything is also locally grown, and it’s just so convenient. When you’re someone like me who’s always on the go, convenience is everything. I also love to go to Fresh Kitchen. Love, love, love that place.
BB: Fresh Kitchen’s amazing.
STM: Where do you work out in Tampa?
BB: When we were here filming, I was hitting up Pure Barre a lot in Carrollwood. I love barre and yoga, so I was really excited that there were so many options here. It’s really nice because one of our friends who is a wrestler, his wife, Chi-Chi [Schickel], owns a yoga studio we were able to go to – Chi Yoga.
NB: Hard Knocks South is my spot. Rob, who’s my trainer here, he’s just completely helped me transform my body not only in how it looks physically, but internally how much stronger I am, which helps me in the ring. This is home for me here in Tampa.
STM: This is our health, beauty and fitness edition. Is there a beauty secret you could share with our readers?
BB: Hydration, hydration, hydration.
NB: And facials.
BB: Everyone should own hydration serum. If you travel a lot, even if you feel like you get enough water in a day, you’re dehydrating by walking outside and having the chemicals and pollution hit your face, by being in an airplane, from stress… That’s just my no. 1 thing – and eye cream. I love Dermalogica. I’m someone who’s really big about not putting chemicals on my face, and Dermalogica is always chemical free.
NB: I also think a good mask [is important], too. I feel like masks and taking care of your skin, those extra steps, are so important, especially with age.
STM: Are there any places in South Tampa that you like to go to for spa treatments?
NB: Glow Couture Day Spa. Wesley [Winer] and Kerry [Sherrill], they’re mother-daughter, are the best.
BB: They’re amazing.
NB: And Brie loves them because they’re organic. Everything they have there has no chemicals. It’s just very healthy for your skin, plus it’s the cutest place ever. Actually, Bryan [Brie’s husband] came with us and got his first pedicure. He was in heaven. We filmed it for the show, and Kerry gave him a facial. It was his first for both, and he loved it.
STM: What is the best thing and the worst thing about being a twin?
BB: [Laughs] The best thing is that you have a best friend for life and someone to always give you an honest answer. There’s no BS with sisters, let alone twins. The hardest thing for me is that you’re constantly compared. I mean, it’s crazy. We’ll stand there and people will – and this was happening to us when we were five years old, and we’re 32 and it still happens – they’ll walk up to us and ask, “are you guys twins?” We’ll be like, “yes,” and they will stare at us. They will point out our features and go, “well these look alike, and these…”
NB: “Your nose is bigger. Oh, you’re chubbier, right?”
BB: I mean, we’re not clones. We’re twins. We might have different eating habits or wear our makeup differently. That’s the one thing I hate about being a twin – the constant comparison to another human.
STM: Is there a healthy meal you like to cook at home?
BB: One thing we love to cook together and always see eye-to-eye on, even though I’m a vegetarian and she loves meat, is our spaghetti squash. We are half Italian, so the addiction to pasta is real, but if you want to stay in shape, you have to find a substitution for pasta. We came across spaghetti squash. For us, we just love it because it reminds us of our culture and what we grew up on.
NB: We’ll make our homemade tomato sauce.
STM: Tell us something about filming a reality show that people might not know.
BB: How exhausting it is. Everyone thinks it’s all glamour.
NB: But it’s not.
BB: When you sign on to do a reality show, you have to be OK that you are going to be an open book. Some people will like you, some people will hate you, but you have to be authentic, and you have to be true to yourself. You definitely have moments you wish the cameras weren’t there, but you can’t just tell them to leave because you’re having hard times or want to be alone. I think those are the things about reality [TV] that I wasn’t expecting.
NB: We’re on the road over 300 days a year. So not only are we doing all these wrestling shows and traveling the world, we’re also filming a reality show, whereas some people are only filming a reality show. We come home, and usually I’m going to chill, go to the spa, do my laundry, regroup. Instead we have cameras that follow us, and you can’t just sit on the couch. We need to be active, and we want to be entertaining, so for us, it’s beyond a full-time job. That’s why we give credit to all the female wrestlers with us. It’s already tough being a woman wrestler in our industry. We’re trying to break all these barriers, and we’ve broken so many already. It’s very hard to be accepted in the mainstream as a wrestler already, so I give all the Total Divas [the female WWE stars featured on the Bellas’ previous E! show] so much credit for how hard they’ve worked the last four years. It’s truly been an incredible journey.
STM: What is the next step for the Bellas?
BB: There are many steps ahead! [Both laugh] We’ve been working on our new [clothing] line called Birdiebee, and man, when you’re used to being in one career and you step into another, it’s like you’re starting all over again. It’s been a wild ride, but Birdiebee will be coming out in the fall. We’re really excited. Also, we’ve been creating our own wine. We’re working with two really great winemakers in Napa Valley, and at the end of this coming May, we’ll have our wine out – because the Bellas are winos.
NB: For me, I have finally made my comeback to the ring. I haven’t been in that ring for 10 months. There was a chance when I got my injury that my career was potentially over [Editor’s note: Nikki suffered a herniated disk in July 2015, stopped competing in October and underwent bone fusion surgery in January]. I just debuted back at Summer Slam, and I was a big surprise. It was honestly so incredible, especially how the WWE universe reacted to me. I wasn’t even expecting it. When I did my booty shake, it was such a nervous booty shake because, with how loud they screamed, I was in shock. So now I’m on “SmackDown Live,” and we just introduced last night that we are going to have a new women’s championship. So in our future not only do we have Birdiebee and the wine, we want everyone to watch “Total Bellas” season one so we get a season two, as well as [continue watching] “Total Divas.” Hopefully Nikki Bella will be the first “SmackDown” women’s champion. That is my goal. There’s a lot of exciting stuff in our future. At the end of the day, Brie and I are all about women empowerment and being inspiring and being role models and being motivating to all the little girls and women. I feel like everything we’re doing kind of connects there, and so that’s our foundation to continue to work hard.