CJ Perry talks about her experience on The Surreal Life and her instant connection with Dennis Rodman because of their individual histories with professional wrestling.
For those who miss watching Lana on Monday nights, they will soon be able to go back void as she stars in the returning VH1 reality show, The Surreal Life. Perry, who was released by WWE in 2021, is returning to television screens alongside a cast of Celebrities including Kim Coles, Frankie Muniz, Stormy Daniels, Dennis Rodman, and more.
In a new interview with Sean Ross Sapp, the former Lana on WWE television spoke about how this experience, like many of the other experiences she's been fortunate to have, came her way through happenstance and just a day after she was released by WWE.
"I feel, in life, you have to work really hard. You have to be diligent and disciplined, have a good attitude. You might try, try, try over and over again and get ‘No’s’, but all that work will, at some point, pay off," she said. "All the big jobs in my life, that kind of happened. With Pitch Perfect, randomly got the job, and the Surreal Life, the same thing. It blows my mind of how many people—I believe that production was telling me they cast this for over eight months. I never auditioned for it. Literally, the day after I got released, I got a call from my manager being like, ‘The Surreal Life wants you.’ I was like, ‘Wait, so the Surreal Life with like Brigitte Nielson that I based my entire character off on WWE? Like Flavor Flav?’"
"Yes, yes. It’s so crazy," she added. "So I was blown away. Really, really blown away. I was really, really nervous going into it because I had just gotten released. So I was going through all these emotional ups and downs and trying to figure it out, what do I want to do? What am I going to do? I was so focused on everything wrestling, WWE, wanted to become Champion. It was interesting being thrown into this situation where I’m living with seven strangers who are all celebrities and from all different walks of life, all different perspectives, different cultures, different religions, different careers, and we’re put in this huge, beautiful house in Mexico City with no doors, by the way. That, on the other side, that’s giving me anxiety, and cameras at all times. Not just sometimes, but literally cameras everywhere, mics everywhere—even in the bathroom."
She also admits that she did get anxious being around the other celebrities and notes that she had an instant connection with Dennis Rodman because of his past in the professional wrestling ring.
"So I would definitely get anxious about it," she said. "But it was interesting being put in that where someone like Kim Coles. Kim Coles, Tamar Braxton, even Dennis Rodman, they gave me so much great advice for what I was going through. I don’t know if that will make the cut or not make the cut. There’s only so much that you can put into seven episodes. We don’t know much. I don’t know if it’s seven episodes, nine episodes, six episodes. There’s been a lot of things floating around and I’m going to be watching these episodes for the first time on Twitter with you guys. So I’m not sure what will make it and what will not, so you guys will have to tune in. But, truly grateful because Kim gave me so much great advice after she finished with Living Single and Living Color, and then Tamar with giving so much different advice with things she’s gone through. Really it was Dennis Rodman that—it’s gonna be really interesting to see how it all plays out on the show—but instantly we had a connection because of wrestling."
She even says that communicating with Rodman helped her put certain elements of her wrestling career in perspective.
"Of course. The first thing, I couldn’t believe Dennis Rodman was there. I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, Dennis Rodman! This is crazy!’ Then also because he was in wrestling and I think that was so cool and incredible. He’s always able to somehow be relevant in pop culture," she said. "So he really got to evolve and I didn’t want to hear that. I was like, ‘What? I’m sorry, I want to be champion.’ He retired at thirty-six. Just like giving me things that at first I was not so happy to hear, but sometimes honesty is the best policy and it really made me, after leaving, really keep that into perspective. He would always be like, ‘Why are you gonna do something that you’re good at? Do something that you’re great at. You’re great on the mic. You’re great at managing.’ He’s like, ‘You’re always going to compete against Charlotte Flair in the ring.’ I would get hot about it. In hindsight, I’m really grateful for that experience because I took a lot inside and thought about a lot of those things. Then moving forward, everything I do, I’m like, ‘I want to be great at it. Even if I loved this, I love it and it makes me happy, I don’t want to do things that I’m good at. I want to do things that I’m great at and I’m not going to compromise that anymore.’
Furthermore, she spoke about how being on The Surreal Life made her realize just how much she uses her phone for information and says that Miro, AEW star her husband had to give her some info when she had the brief opportunity to Zoom with him in a designated area.
"Oh, my gosh. It’s gonna be so exciting. The crazy part with you talking ‘not knowing,’ they take our phones so I didn’t know everyone. So I was like, ‘I need my phone. I need Google. I need to be searching these people.’ So it’s definitely interesting how much we rely on our phone, at least for me, to give the illusion that I’m a lot brighter than I may be," she said. "We definitely had a Zoom area, which, yeah, Miro gave me a lot of information. I basically knew Rodman from basketball and then from WCW. I didn’t know all these other things, he was on Celebrity Rehab or all these other things that he had gone through in life. So Miro would be giving me the tea."
You can catch up with all things CJ Perry at her website CJPerry.com and make sure to check in with The Surreal Life every Monday, beginning October 24, on VH1.