Caroline Joy “CJ” Perry (Born: March 24, 1985) is a professional wrestler, actress, and TikTok influencer. CJ Perry performs on WWE television as Lana. She is also a member of the Bellas in the motion picture Pitch Perfect. CJ Perry is married to fellow professional wrestler and Twitch star Miro.
CJ Perry Early Beginnings
This dancer-turned-professional wrestler was born in Gainesville, Florida. CJ Perry is the oldest of four siblings.
Her parents are of Portuguese and Venezuelan heritage. The Perry patriarch was a Christian missionary. He was called into service in the late 1980s to help bring peace to Latvia. CJ Perry would live in Latvia until they gained their independence in 1991.
CJ Perry Becomes a Dancer
While in Latvia, CJ Perry attended the Riga Choreography School. She learned to be a ballet dancer for the Latvian National Opera. At 14, she made her debut with the Latvian National Ballet.
By the time she was 17, CJ had moved back to the United States, living in New York City. NYC opened many doors for CJ.
CJ Perry danced at:
- Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
- Ballet Hispanico
- Broadway Dance Center
- Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance
As the job market got more competitive, the future Lana realized she needed more training. She moved to Tallahassee, Florida, and matriculated at Florida State University. She majored in dancing and acting.
CJ Perry FSU Cowgirls and Modeling Career
During her time at FSU, she started attending Seminoles games. She and a group of friends would cheer on from the bleachers in the cowgirls outfits. During a Florida State Seminoles vs. Miami Hurricanes game, CJ Perry and crew were named “The FSU Cowgirls” by Brent Musburger.
This newfound attention caught the eyes of modeling agencies. CJ landed modeling gigs with Matrix, Red Bull, and the RIGID Tool Calendar. After graduation, CJ moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in show business.
CJ Perry Joins Ne-Yo
In 2009, CJ Perry was scouted by Ne-Yo. He started a girl group known as No Means Yes. He wanted C.J. to sing, but really relied on her to be a backup dancer and model.
CJ was nervous at first but decided to give it a try, stating,
“I am so thankful to this day for that experience because I do not think I would have ever gotten the role in Pitch Perfect if I hadn’t overcome my fear to open my mouth and sing.”
No Means Yes released one single, Would You Like That. Burn Rubber and 7 Years Bad Luck were recorded but never released.
CJ Perry Lands Pitch Perfect
After No Means Yes disbanded, CJ Perry continued dancing for top pop stars.
She toured the world as a backup dancer for:
- Keri Hilson
- Rich Boy
During this time, she trained at the Groundlings School to hone her acting chops. She would land some bit roles before scoring her biggest to date. In 2011, CJ Perry was cast a Bella in Pitch Perfect. Perry would reprise the role in Pitch Perfect 2, released in 2015.
CJ Perry Becomes Lana in WWE
In 2013, CJ Perry signed with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). By October 23, 2013, she debuted on their developmental show, NXT. Her character was named Lana. Lana was scouting talent to manage. In particular, she was checking out the Bulgarian superstar, Alexander Rusev.
Lana would become Rusev’s social ambassador. She would use a Russian accent and pledge allegiance to Vladimir Putin. The twosome would debut on WWE Smackdown on January 31, 2014.
On November 3, 2013, Rusev beat Sheamus to become the WWE United States Champion. This win would solidify their status as a draw for WWE.
The duo was hit. They would end up becoming a hated act and shot to the top of the card. Lana would accompany Rusev down the aisle at Wrestlemania 31 to defend the United States TItle against John Cena. CJ was accompanied by Russian soldiers, as Rusev came to the ring in an army tank. Years later, Rusev admitted that he and Lana had sex in that tank.
Rusev and Lana Marriage
Lana and Rusev would remain a popular act for years. They would get their first onscreen break up in 2016. During this time, the Lana character started dating Dolph Ziggler. Meanwhile, Rusev was dating Summer Rae.
However, Lana and Rusev were engaged in real life. The two would secretly wed in October 2016. However, the wedding was picked up by TMZ. This news stopped the storyline dead in its tracks. The two were back together onscreen by April 25, 2016.
She was then cast on E!’s Total Divas. Her marriage was a hot storyline for one season. However, fans hated the couple. They were let go from the show.
Lana Lesbian Storyline
In 2017, Lana started wrestling when Rusev went out with an injury. The couple would flounder in the midcard for years. Eventually, the two would break up onscreen again. This time, Lana accused Rusev of being a sex addict. She left him to marry Bobby Lashley onscreen.
During the wedding of Lana and Bobby Lashley, Liv Morgan crashed the wedding. She admitted she and Lana had an affair and that Morgan was in love with Lana. After Lana and Morgan scuffled, Rusev jumped out of a cake to beat up Bobby Lashley.
This storyline was panned by viewers. However, it got the most YouTube views of the year.
Lana and Cyberbulling, Turns Babyface
At the start of 2020, WWE cut many talents due to the pandemic. One of those talents was Lana’s husband, Rusev, who had asked for his release for almost two years.
As a form of punishment, Lana was put through a table nine weeks in a row by Nia Jax. Fans started wondering why Lana was on TV so much and cyberbullied her. Eventually, Lana broke down and started talking about her mental health issues.
Lana alluded that she thought about harming herself because people are so mean. She noted that the pandemic made her feel lonely, especially since her husband and parents had COVID-19. The internet and TikTok were her outlets to engage with people. Yet everyone calls her talentless and stupid.
WWE turned this story into a positive one. Lana would eventually pin Nia Jax and get a special documentary produced about her struggles on an episode of WWE Chronicle.
Lana CJ Perry Social Media Controversies
As Miro got released, he turned to Twitch to make money. Lana would get involved in his videos, posing in bikinis. Eventually, Twitch would temporarily suspend Miro’s account for breaking the terms of agreement.
Lana was also making money as a FashionNova and Bang Energy Drink ambassador. She would use the products in IG posts and TikTok videos. However, WWE got angry because they license her likeness. Many believe that her videos lead to the blow-up that caused the firing of Zelina Vega (aka Thea Trinidad).