Mercedes Varnado is known all around the world for her skills inside the ring as the SmackDown Women's Champion Sasha Banks, but she's not limiting herself to just conquering the WWE Universe. She recently made her anticipated debut in the world of Star Wars with a role in The Mandalorian as Koska Reeves, and over the years has shown her appreciation and love of superheroes, anime, and more. ComicBook.com recently had the chance to talk to Varnado about all of those loves and more, but we had to start with what really got her into the geek space in the first place, and while her love of Star Wars started early, it was actually Sailor Moon that first hooked her, specifically Serena (or Usagi Tsukino).
"My first thing wasn't Star Wars, it was Sailor Moon. When I was maybe like five years old, I started watching Sailor Moon, and I had no idea of what time was or anything. It always came on at 6:00 AM in the morning, but I would stay up all night just because I would know it would come out sometimes dark, sometimes in the morning, I had no idea. But I had to stay up and watch my Sailor Moon because I thought I was just like Serena," Varnado said. "I was a meatball head, I was clumsy, I was always late for school, and she really taught me how to believe in myself, my own powers, and the powers of the universe and the moon. So still to this day, she is my favorite and I can't believe how much she's played a role in my life."
It wasn't long though before Star Wars and WWE came knocking, and as we all know, the rest is history.
"But I remember watching Star Wars as a kid and loving little Anakin Skywalker because I was a kid as well, So don't think I'm a creep, okay? And he was so cute. I was like, 'Look at this little eight-year-old. I'm eight too. He is adorable. I wish he was my boyfriend.' And my brother used to love Darth Maul, so I used to paint his face for Halloween and put my little ninjitsu gi over his head and just wrap it around with the thing like, 'Okay, you're Darth Maul. Zoom, zoom, zoom. Go ahead.' Then I just loved, loved wrestling as a kid," Varnado said. "I wasn't a nerd for anything but WWE. That was my do our die over everything, as you can see. That was my choice of my profession, and as I can say, I am one of the greatest of all time, so it's just been such an incredible journey. I think the next on my bucket list has to be something with Sailor Moon. Then I'm going to be like, 'Oh, what?'"
As for her Star Wars debut, it's still sort of surreal. "It's just so, so, so crazy. Still, right now, I'm still pinching myself that this is all so real," Varnado said. "Because Star Wars is just the biggest, biggest universe that you can ever jump yourself into. But of course, playing the role of Sasha Banks, if I do it like a Legit Boss, then I got it, so I'm so thankful and the episode was incredible, and what an introduction to this whole new world of the Star Wars galaxy."
Whether it's from the world of Star Wars or the world of WWE, Varnado has fans of all ages, but also quite a few younger fans who are no doubt inspired by her journey. That's why we wanted to know what advice she would give to those younger fans who are on a journey to find their own voice and make their mark.
"To find your voice, understand it changes every single day, and it's good to understand and accept that," Varnado said. "We grow and we learn and our voices change because we change our minds all the time. And that is okay. But to really find your power and to find your voice, you have to know deep down within yourself that you hold it. You hold the keys and your own power and your own success. So just know by being yourself, by giving good energy, by only knowing that you can chase your dreams and not letting anybody stop you, that's when you can find your power."
"Always live present, always be who you want to be, and just don't ever take no for an answer," Varnado added. "Because life is too short and you just have to be happy always."
There are many who would love to see Varnado and her fellow WWE superstars spotlighted once again in a second Evolution event, as the first Evolution was one of the best pay-per-views of the year and seemed like it would become a yearly staple. We haven't heard word of a second one up to this point, and Varnado is as shocked as anyone that it hasn't happened yet, but when it does eventually become a reality, she doesn't feel it needs any major tweaks to be just as good if not better than the first.
"I mean, I think just having a second one would be just different in itself. The only tweak I would have is just don't have the same card. I would not have it in New York. That's my only tweak. Can you have it closer to my house? Because that would make me happy," Varnado joked. "But I have no idea why we have not had Evolution 2. We have more than enough, and we have the top of the top of the crop of the crop of the woman's division in the WWE. We have the best all over the world. So for me, I absolutely want to see it, and I can only just keep on manifesting it because I don't understand why we haven't had a second one."
"Because the first one was so incredible. And I thought it was just so unique and different," Varnado said. "And the fans that were there just really gave so much love and support, because they're the ones that have been behind us this whole time. So, I think women's wrestling is really better than the men all the time, because that's what I do. Every time I go out there, people are like, 'Sasha Banks is number one.' I'm like, 'Duh.' So I don't understand why we don't. So keep on manifesting it, keep on tweeting Vince McMahon. I'll keep talking to him, because he's my best friend. And hopefully, we can get one in 2021."
The next time we see Varnado in the ring will be at TLC against Carmella, which hits the WWE Network on December 20th. You can also catch Varnado's episode of The Mandalorian streaming on Disney+, and be on the lookout for more from our chat with her soon!
What do you want to see her take on next? Let us know in the comments or as always you can talk all things comics, Star Wars, and wrestling with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!