Sasha Banks had the thrill of her life being escorted backstage of WrestleMania XXIV by her older cousin Snoop Dogg in 2008.
Right then and there, the impressionable teen envisioned herself as a WWE Superstar and perhaps someday... the greatest female wrestler to ever step foot into the squared circle.
Well, years later and the Legit Boss is living out her dreams as arguably the best Superstar that World Wrestling Entertainment has to offer. The 24-year-old, half-Black, half-German sensation is also amongst the wave of WWE Superstars who helped revolutionize the perception of female wrestlers, ensuring that they get better placement and longer matches because of their skills — not just their looks.
Here, BET.com talks to Sasha Banks about her continued feud with Charlotte (daughter of two-time WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair) at the Battle Ground pay per view in Washington, D.C., this Sunday night.
The Legit Boss also reminisces on her memorable WrestleMania moments with Snoop, how he and Nicki Minaj helped influence her persona, artists she listens to on the road and advice for little girls wanting to be the next WWE Superstar.
Riding with Team Legit Boss? We are.
BET.com: Let's get to Battle Ground first. You're in tag-team action with a mystery partner against Charlotte and Dana Brooke. There has been a lot of speculation as to who your mystery partner will be.
Sasha Banks: I get a lot of tweets. It could be Nikki Bella — I've been hearing a lot of rumors. It might be Bayley. The [WWE] Draft just happened and we just got a lot of new girls — Alexa Bliss, Carmella, Nia Jax. Could be one of them. You never know. The Boss doesn't need friends, but the ones I do have I keep very close. I finally get to get my hands on Charlotte, who has been running from me since day one. She's been hiding because she knows I'm better than her. After this Sunday, I'm going to prove to Charlotte that I deserve a one-on-one match with her.
You rep Boston to the fullest. What was it like spending a chunk of your youth there and starting your career?
I was born in California and moved around a lot. When I was 17, I moved to Boston because my mom got a job there. The moment I went to Boston, everything just felt right and fell into place on how I wanted it to be.
When I was 12, I was living in Iowa and I emailed so many wrestling schools and one of them was actually in Boston. I joined it at 18 — the New England Pro Wrestling Academy. They were doing a fantasy camp. I was 17 about to turn 18. I told my mom, 'I'm 18 now, I just signed these papers by myself and I'm going to do this.' I was the only girl in that little tryout fantasy camp. The winner got three months free training.
At the time, I had no money, no nothing at all. I was fortunate enough that they chose me as the only girl that day and it just began my training from there. I was in the independent scene for two years before I got the call from the WWE.
I emailed them legit every single week, asking for work. One day I finally got the call and they said they were going to send me down to FCW (training division) for a tryout. I prayed, prayed and prayed and I told myself I wasn't going to leave until I got signed... and I got signed. I finally went down to FCW, which later turned into NXT [WWE's developmental division]. The Boss came and took over.
During your cousin Snoop's Celebrity Wing: WWE Hall of Fame induction speech this past April, he spoke about bringing you backstage at WrestleMania when you were a kid.
I had no idea that he was going to mention me in his speech, so that really touched my heart. I was only 16 and WrestleMania [XXIV in March 2008] was in Orlando, which is crazy because that's where WrestleMania  is going to be next year.
But I just remember begging him like, 'Please, please, please take me with you.' He was the [Master of Ceremonies] for a match at WrestleMania that year and I remember him walking down the ramp during rehearsals and I was running behind him. I was like, 'Wow, this is going to be me and I'm going to be walking down this ramp one day.' And here I am, eight years later, walking down the ramp at WrestleMania with him performing my entrance music.
Did Snoop help you come up with your 'Legit Boss' persona?
Well, I pretty much spinned my character from him and being around him. But I was just looking at everything in entertainment those days. It was all about Nicki Minaj, Floyd Mayweather, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg. And from always being around Snoop, all his security guards and his friends call him Boss. I was like, 'I need a nickname, I need a persona ... I'm going to call myself the Boss — Sasha Banks 'The Legit Boss.'
I took little things from Kanye, Nicki Minaj, the style, the attitude. I told myself, 'Once I get my opportunity, I want to show people why I'm here to be the best women's wrestler of all time' and that's why I made my name.
The fans took notice and I kept putting on these matches to show that women can do this and they could do it better than the guys. It's so crazy that I'm a part of history. Just to know from the very beginning from when we were told to wrestle like Divas. They never gave us an example of what a Diva was. Now, that we have the respect and we're doing it, sky's the limit for a woman in the WWE.
Especially after your match against Bayley last year. What do you think about fans calling it one of the greatest matches of all time?
It was just something so special. All the stars in the sky were just right for that match. From there to being a featured match at WrestleMania. If you set your mind to something, things can happen. When I was 10-years-old, I wrote in my notebook that I wanted to be the greatest women's wrestler ever.
I want fans to remember the name Sasha Banks. When I look back 10 years from now, I want women to want to become wrestlers because of Sasha Banks. I always want to keep dreaming of doing something more and one day to actually main event a WrestleMania. If I don't get to do it this career, I know I laid the foundation for the future women to do it later on.
What would you tell a young African-American girl watching you and wanting to be a WWE Superstar like Sasha Banks?
To anybody — boy or girl — if it's your dream, do not give up. I was told no a 100 times. I was told I wasn't pretty enough, tall enough, that I didn't have the right look. But I kept coming back and saying, 'No, this is my dream and I'm going to keep fighting for it.' I'm finally here, but I'm still fighting for my goals and things I want to accomplish.
The WWE is on the road for most of the year. Which artists do you get turnt to before your matches?
Well, I listen to a lot of music. I love Kendrick Lamar. When I'm traveling on the road, for safety, I love to listen to gospel music. Before matches I still love to listen to Nicki Minaj's "Moment 4 Life." I listened to that like a 100 times when I was flying down from my FCW tryout. I like a little bit of everything.
There has been so much violence going on in the world with more police brutality, cops being targeted and terrorist acts. How does it feel that WWE is one of the outlets for people to escape that harsh reality?
It's an outlet for so many fans. Traveling every week, we get to meet so many different fans and just for them waiting outside the arena, the smiles on their faces are just so beautiful. Getting to do the special Olympics, those things always touch me because I have a brother with disabilities. Growing up, that was extremely hard for me and I never had anyone to talk to about it. But the thing I went to was watching wrestling. It was my escape from the world. We are a voice to make people smile.
The WWE Draft was trending this week. Is it as exciting to see unfold for the roster as it is for the fans?
It is, but that whole Draft day, little did they know, we legit had no idea of where we were going. We were sitting in the back watching. It was a surprise. I was really sad because a lot of my friends went to SmackDown. That hurts, knowing I'm only going to see them four times a year. But the competition is there. I guarantee that I'm going to be the face of [Monday Night] Raw. I'm putting it out there that I want to be the face of Raw.
(Photos: WWE, Inc.)
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