This September, our cover is graced by Leah Van Dale who wrestles under the name Carmella as a WWE SuperStar who is also on E! Total Divas, which is back for its 9th season on Oct 1st! Our shoot took place during NYFW, which showcased SS20 collections that we can't wait to start rocking in a few months. Our shoot took place at The Mondrian Park Ave Hotel on the Mondrian Terrace as well as at their lower level lounge known as The Boogie Room.
As we showcased great transitional fall looks, we also got to know more about this athlete, whose career has included being a dancer for the New England Patriots as well as the LA Lakers as a Laker Girl and of course being a WWE SuperStar. In addition, she also launched her own wine label that embodies her mantra and how she sees the world as she continues to amass her empire.
ATHLEISURE MAG: You have had an amazing career, that has included cheerleading, dancing, modeling, wrestler and entrepreneur. When you were growing up, what was the moment that you realized that you wanted to be an entertainer?
LEAH VAN DALE: For as long as I can remember. I was dancing before I could even walk. It’s where I feel the most comfortable. I’ve always loved putting on a show!
AM: Earlier this year, our Feb cover included a few members of the Super Bowl Champions’ New England Patriots, what was your journey to becoming a cheerleader for this team for 3 seasons?
LVD: I danced my entire life. When I started college I knew I wanted to continue my passion for dancing. I found out about a try out to become a New England Patriots Cheerleader. I went to the try out and made it! The rest was really history.
AM: After 3 seasons with the New England Patriots, you became a Laker Girl for the Los Angeles Lakers for a season, what was that process like?
LVD: At the time, you could only cheer for the Patriots for three seasons. I had just graduated college in May of 2010 and I was ready for a change. I flew out to LA the day before the tryout. There were almost 700 girls there for the audition and only 6 spots open on the team. I felt so out of my element. I kept making it to the next round and after almost two months of tryouts and training I made the team! I picked up and moved to LA without knowing anyone or anything about the city, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it.
AM: As someone who was familiar with the WWE as your father Paul Van Dale is a mixed martial artist and worked with the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) in the 80s and 90s – when did you decide that you wanted to be in the WWE?
LVD: Honestly, I never thought I would end up in the WWE. I used to watch it when I was a kid, but it wasn’t something I aspired to do. I wanted to be a dancer. My dad would bring it up from time to time but I always shut the idea down. When I did everything I could with dance I found out about a tryout with WWE. The timing was perfect. All the stars aligned and my journey to become Women’s Champion began.
AM: Tell us about your journey for becoming a part of the WWE?
LVD: I moved to Orlando in 2013 when I was signed to WWE’s developmental brand NXT. I trained at the Performance Center for a little over two years; learned the basics in wrestling and created my Carmella character. In 2016, I was drafted to Smackdown Live and I’ve been moon walking and trashing all over TV since.
AM: Your ring name is Carmella, why did you choose that name and what is the persona of her when you're wrestling – how does this differ from you?
LVD: I wanted an Italian mob-wife character. I channeled my inner Carmella Soprano. I wore fur jackets and talked with an accent. We already had a girl on the roster billed from Boston (where I’m from) so they decided to bill me from Staten Island (which is my real life rival!! A New Englander pretending to be from New York?!?!) I did all the studying I could do to make sure I really gave off the Staten Island vibes and I pride myself on my character. She’s definitely more outspoken than Leah. But it’s essentially me with the volume turned up to 100!
AM: What is the process like when you are creating your ring persona and do you have input when it comes to the storylines that you are involved in?
LVD: I had all of the way in creating Carmella. She’s definitely evolved over the years, but I feel lucky that the first character I came up with is still what I’m doing today. Some people go years trying to create their on screen persona, so I’m very fortunate.
AM: You have had a number of amazing wins in your career at the WWE, what are 3 of your favorite storylines that you have been involved in?
LVD: I loved my story with Nikki Bella when I first debuted on Smackdown Live. It was my first feud and it was super high profile. I was so nervous to work with her, but she was incredible. She always had my back. I loved when I became Miss Money in the Bank. I made history in the first ever women’s MITB ladder match. I got to carry that contract and be so incredibly obnoxious about it. Of course my final favorite is when I cashed in on Charlotte Flair the Smackdown after Wrestlemania 34. I was an over the top champion with these ridiculous Mellabrations. It was so fun.
AM: Who do you consider as members of your squad within the WWE?
LVD: I have a good group of girls I’m close with. Bayley is one of my best friends. We got super close during our time in NXT and we’ve remained that way despite being on different brands the last few years. Natalya is my girl. We text literally every single day. She’s so funny. I love Sonya and Mandy as well. We all lived in Fort Lauderdale for the last year and they’re just super fun.
AM: As an athlete in the WWE, what does it mean to you to be in this organization as well as being apart of a number of the amazing things taking place within the women’s matches that take place there?
LVD: This is the best time to be a lady wrestler. I feel so fortunate to be a part of so many historical moments. These are the times everyone will be talking about when it comes to the Women’s Evolution.
AM: Fitness has been a key component of your career and you have even been in videos with Bob Harper, why is it so integral to you?
LVD: Fitness has been an important part of my life since I was a kid. My parents have always instilled that into my sister and me. When I’m active and eating healthy is when I feel my best. Of course we all fall off the wagon every now and then, but I always get back to it.
AM: What is a typical day like for you when you’re working out?
LVD: When I’m at home (which is RARE!) I train with my trainer or I do yoga. On the road I do empty stomach cardio in the morning, either 30 min on the stationary bike or walk on the treadmill on a high incline. Then I do some weight training. I alternate upper and lower body workouts.
AM: You were wrestling at Madison Square Garden earlier this month, what is your day like going into a day like that?
LVD: Usually it’s a workout in the morning then I just head to the arena for 2pm. Just to walk into MSG is mind blowing, nevermind knowing I get to perform there. It’s every entertainer's dream. This was my third time there. It never gets old!
AM: You’re constantly on the move, what is the average week like for you between taping shows, being in the ring and more?
LVD: It varies from week to week, but typically something like this:
Saturday fly from home to the first city, have the show, the drive to the next town. Have a show on Sunday, then drive to the next town. After our show on Monday, I drive to wherever we have our live tv show Smackdown Live that week. Of course the gym and finding healthy spots to eat inbetween all of that. When we’re filming for Total Divas, I would fly to wherever we are filming that Wednesday morning after TV. We film Wednesday-Friday then fly to the next set of shows on Saturday. When we aren’t filming, I sometimes get to go home Wednesday-Friday, in between show loops.
AM: Season 9 of E! Total Divas premiers on Oct 2nd – why do you like being a part of this show and how important is it to be involved so that we can know more about you as well as your character?
LVD: I was on the show for season 7, but I didn’t get the opportunity to really open up and show my truth. I’m excited to do that this time around.
Nothing is off-limits, which scares me a little. It’s very nerve-wracking to put your entire personal life out there for everyone to judge, but I’m ready!
AM: What can you tell us about your upcoming season?
LVD: It’s all about our sisterhood. There’s six of us: Ronda Rousey, Nattie, Sonya Deville, Trinity and Nia Jax. You’ll get to see my relationship with my boyfriend Corey Graves and of course there’s a little drama with the girls.
AM: Tell us about Capo Cagna Wine – how did this opportunity come about, how long were you in development, what is the meaning behind the name and where can people get it?
LVD: It’s been in the works for well over a year now. It’s been such a long process with a lot of ups and downs. I wanted to start a brand and have it mean something. I want everyone to feel like a Boss Bitch when they’re drinking it, which is was Capo Cagna means in Italian.
AM: Wine is a beverage that a number of people enjoy or are just learning about, we love how you position your wine regardless of the sippers’ wine background – why is that your approach?
LVD: I think it’s important to feel confident. I want whoever grabs the bottle of wine to know they deserve to feel a little boujie, but it’s not going to break the bank. It’s all about being boujie on a budget. So if you’re a wine snob, this is not the wine for you! ;)
AM: Currently, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are available, will there be additional varietals that we should keep an eye out for?
LVD: Yes! We will have a Rosé launching for the summer of 2020.
AM: On average, how many times a year are you traveling?
LVD: 52 weeks a year. We don’t have an off season.
AM: As someone who travels quite frequently, what are 3 things that are in your carryon that make you feel like you’re at home?
LVD: I always keep one of my comfy sweaters in my backpack so I pull that out for the plane ride; my eye mask and my iPad so I can keep up on all of my favorite reality shows (Real Housewives is my guilty pleasure.)
AM: Do you have any philanthropies or charitable work that you are a part of that you can share with us?
AM: When you have downtime, what are 3 things that we could find you doing or eating when you’re taking time for yourself?
LVD: You will find me drinking wine on my couch, eating sushi or pizza and watching Netflix.
AM: In Ft. Lauderdale, where can we find you grabbing a drink/meal, working out and shopping?
AM: What are 3 brand/products that you’re loving within each of these three categories of - fitness, beauty and in style?
LVD: I’m all about skin care products. I love using rose water to spray on my face when I travel. Rosehip oil is essential. I’m always shopping on Revolve.com because they have free two day shipping, so my clothes are always there when I get home from the road.
Our cover shoot took place at The Mondrian Park Ave on the Terrace as well as the lower level lounge known as The Boogie Room which is managed by In Good Company Hospitality. We took a moment to chat with Chris Guidice, General Manager of IGC to find out about the spaces, what guests can enjoy and the hotel in general.
ATHLEISURE MAG: When did The Boogie Room launch?
CHRIS GUIDICE: The Boogie Room opened a little over a year ago and recently relaunched with brand new art on the walls and throughout the space.
AM: What is the ethos of The Boogie room?
CG: The Boogie Room is a place where art, music, drinks, and culture bridge the gap between approachability and exclusivity. This edgy bar, with its combination of street art and retro furniture, is the perfect hideaway from the hustle and bustle of Park Avenue South. The dim lighting and intimate space give an air of elusiveness, while still maintaining the warm and welcoming atmosphere that is typical of all IGC Hospitality’s venues.
AM: We love that there are murals at this lower level hotspot, what’s the story behind them and how often do they change?
CG: The walls feature beautiful murals full of bright colors painted by local artists serving as an homage to ’80s and '90s NYC street art. A group of talented artists were brought together and given the direction to create a fun atmosphere that has cultural and historical relevance to this amazing city.
AM: What are 3 signature drinks that we should have the next time that we’re at The Boogie Room?
CG: The Boogie Room’s specialty cocktails are everything on our bottle menu! Of course, we have a full bar with beer, wine, and spirits, but the parade of sparklers and bottles represent the ethos of a Boogie night.
AM: What events are taking place at The Boogie Room this fall that we should mark our calendars?
CG: The Boogie Room takes on a life of its own on Friday and Saturday nights. This nightlife hotspot features some of NYC’s most sought after DJs from 11:30 pm - 2 am every weekend. Think dancing, flowing drinks and bumping music.... There’s always something going on here!
AM: We also shot at the Mondrian Terrace as well – tell us about this space and more about this vibe?
CG: Mondrian Terrace is a year round terrace offering the best of both indoor and outdoor space. We are currently in the final month of our Rosé Terrace installation, a rosé lover’s paradise, and will soon be transitioning to a Fall-themed pop up. Our outdoor terrace overlooks the corner of Park Avenue South and East 30th Street. The indoor lounge is a canvas for seasonal soirees and NoMad nights.
AM: What are 3 signature bites that we should enjoy at Mondrian Terrace?
CG: We change the menu seasonally, but three of my current favorites are burrata with fig balsamic, beef short rib sliders, and the lamb meatballs with feta cheese and pine nuts. Each dish is perfect for snacking on as you sit and take in the great vistas of downtown Manhattan. If you’re feeling generous, they’re all very easy to share
AM: What events are taking place here that we should keep an eye out for as we continue into the fall?
CG: The Rosé Terrace at Mondrian Terrace is winding down and we’ll be debuting a new Fall/Winter pop up soon, so stay tuned! Our Beverage Manager Allie Klug and Executive Chef Todd Matthews are always working on incorporating seasonal ingredients into our menus, which means lots of specials to look forward to.
AM: For the Holiday season, is there anything taking place at The Boogie Room or the Mondrian Terrace that we should swing by?
CG: We’re planning our Halloween party at Mondrian Terrace. Guests can enjoy rooftop views, Halloween Cocktails, and a live DJ. Tickets for the event will be available soon, keep an eye out here for more details.
We also host a weekly Latin Night every Sunday. Of course, for those who really like to plan ahead, we have New Year’s Eve blowouts planned for all of the venues in Mondrian Park Avenue!
AM: With 3 venues at the Mondrian Park Avenue Hotel, what was the process behind coming up with spaces and concepts? You have definitely created different vibes that would fuel guests of the hotel, those that book an event, people who staycation and those who are in the neighborhood that ware interested in swinging by.
CG: The three spaces at the Mondrian have all been designed to have their own unique feel. Cleo is a beautiful Mediterranean restaurant which has American influences in the dishes and distinctly unique décor. Mondrian Terrace offers a relaxed atmosphere and seasonal delicacies, perfect for a first date or corporate party. The Boogie Room stands in stark contrast to the posh and sleek look of the Mondrian and surrounding Park Avenue, it is perfect celebrating birthdays, or just a place to dance the night away. All three spaces are inspired by the hotel’s namesake - Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. The Boogie Room is actually named after one of his paintings titled Broadway Boogie.
AM: Tell us about In Good Company and other locations do you have that we should keep on our radar?
CG: IGC has more than a dozen amazing venues. All super unique and hospitable. We’re excited to recently welcome Woodpecker by David Burke to the portfolio, as well as our second nightclub, Jewel Thief - opening next month! Whichever IGC Hospitality venue you choose to visit, I guarantee you will find the common thread of good food, good drinks, and great people.
Athleisure Mag's cover story was shot by Paul Farkas, using Canon Mark IV; and selected Canon lenses: EF 50 f/1.2 L, EF 24-70 f/2.8 L II, and EF 70-200 f/2.8 L II.
MUAH Jessica Bonilla used a number of products and tools to create the makeup that is in this cover editorial with WWE SuperStar and E! Total Divas' Leah Van Dale/Carmella.
To hydrate the face, EMBRYOLlSSE Moisturizing Face Cream was used.
Bronzer: FENTY BEAUTY BY RIHANNA in Sun Stalk'r (Caramel Cutie and Mocha Mami).
Blush: BH COSMETICS Blush Palette.
Eyes: KKW BEAUTY KKW X MARIO 10 Pan in Eyeshadow Palette in Miami and Albania.
KISS PRODUCTS lashes in Poise and smudged a little black lipstick from the ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS Lip Palette for a more natural styled sultry eye. The lips are brighter for the sporty look with a pretty pop of peach with FENTY BEAUTY BY RIHANNA Diamond Milk over the top.
The lip for this look is FENTY BEAUTY BY RIHANNA Gloss Bomb in Universal for a beautiful sporty look.
This look was kicked up a notch for this beautiful gold jumpsuit. We wanted a lot of color for the eyes. Jessica used MORPHE X JACLYN HILL Eyeshadow Palette in Bling Bling and the Metallic Purple Shade Gem in the crease. A light blue shade from NYX Petit Brights Pallette was used in the inner corner. For the outer corners, Jessica used colors Iri Ji (a pink shade) and Ofala (an orange shade) from the JUVIA’S PLACE Festival Palette with Odogwo (gold shade from the same palette) in the center, INGLOT COSMETICS' 77 Eyeliner and added more of FENTY BEAUTY BY RIHANNA Universal Gloss Bomb on the lips.
Hairstylist Brooke Bogle used a number of products for the hairstyles in this cover editorial with WWE SuperStar and E! Total Divas' Leah Van Dale/Carmella.
Soft beach waves were created using a 1 inch iron. Prepped with CATWALK BY TIGI Haute Iron Spray.
Sprayed at the end as well for added shine.
LOOK II + III
Two side braids into a pony using BEDHEAD TIGI On the Rebound Curl Recall Cream for smoothness.
For added texture to the pony, fluffed and sprayed with TIGI COPYRIGHT Custom Complete Volume Finishing Spray.
Funky waves with spontaneous braids with accent jewels and rings.
For texture and separation used CATWALK BY TIGI Texturizing Sea Salt Spray and re-scrunched gently. Sprayed CATWALK BY TIGI Haute Iron Spray for added shine.
Athleisure Mag's Celeb Fashion Stylist, Co-Founder/Creative + Style Director Kimmie Smith focused on looks that incorporate a number of pieces that will become go-to's in your closet with the onset of warm weather.
FRONT/BACK COVERS + PG 19 - 29 | UMBRO Bodysuit | LAGOS JEWELRY Black Caviar Black Ceramic Diamond Earrings + Signature Caviar Diamond Pave Crossover Ring | ATHLETIC PROPULSIONS LABS Techloom Bliss White/Black/White Sneakers |
PG 16, 17, 31 | ALO YOGA Crop Cropped Short Sleeve Top in Caramel + High Waist Ripped Warrior Leggings in White | PARAJUMPERS Hybrids Olivia Puffer Jacket in White | ATHLETIC PROPULSION LABS Techloom Bliss White/Black/White Sneakers | LAGOS 18K Gold Caviar 12mm Ball on a Chain Necklace |