Nicole and Brianna Garcia-Colace, more commonly referred to by their fans—the Bella Army as Nikki and Brie Bella, rose to fame as part of the World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) newer class of women wrestlers, leaving behind the more hardcore “attitude era” and embracing more family-friendly content, appealing to, and welcoming their growing number of younger fans and viewers. This approach to the franchise, proved highly successful for Nikki and Brie, allowing them to ultimately take the world of women’s wrestling into the mainstream. Together, they have built an impressive empire consisting of a New York Times best-selling memoir, a baby collection with Colugo, a haircare line, a successful podcast, and a new wine collection with Hill Family Estate. Their specialty is a Sauvignon Blanc that they call Bonita Bonita, and the sisters say that the collection was created to celebrate their roots as farmers, visionaries, and artists. The name, Bonita is a tribute to their stage name Bella, translated to mean pretty. With no signs of slowing down, this duo is only just getting started.
Born sixteen minutes apart on November 21, 1983, identical twins Nikki and Brie were raised on a farm in the outskirts of Scottdale, Arizona, and are of Mexican and Italian descent. As kids, their passions lied in two areas, sports, and the glitz and glamor of old Hollywood. Growing up, they both played club soccer and the aspect of competition and athletics led to their development of becoming fierce competitors. That combined with their love for drama and storytelling influenced their decision to join the WWE as it provided them the perfect opportunity to marry their two passions and unapologetically embrace being aggressive, strong, and powerful.
Ten years later, Nikki and Brie, now dubbed The Bella Twins became household names in the world of professional wrestling. Within that time, they earned not only the love and adoration from their fans but from the wrestling industry as well. Both sisters earned the WWE Women’s Championship title and launched their popularity into the world of reality television with Total Divas. This series was created to give viewers an inside look at the lives of women wrestlers as they juggle both their professional and personal lives. Due to their increasing popularity, Nikki and Brie were offered their own spinoff properly titled Total Bellas which further documented their lives as wrestlers as well as their personal relationships and family dynamics.
Brie Bella: Total divas was magical in the sense that we didn’t know if the world was ready to see women’s wrestling and to get the real inside look of what happens behind the scenes. People know of WWE but we never hear women’s wrestling talked about in the mainstream world. There are usually references to the men like Macho Man, the Rock, or John Cena but very few references of female names. So, we knew this was a really big opportunity for female wrestlers, but we didn’t know if it would work. When we filmed the first season, production said to us that we were really shooting a pilot and that they weren’t sure if the show would actually get picked up. But E! entertainment picked us up and I just remember the night before the premiere episode, we were just praying that the show would do well. Ultimately, we knocked it out of the park and the way the world just looked at women’s wrestling as if it was this incredible hidden secret was really surreal. And from there, it was amazing to see what it did for all of us women at WWE.
Nikki Bella: Total divas was such a big part of women’s wrestling finally getting the respect it deserves. There’s already pressure on women being in a male-dominated industry and then trying to be career women on top of dealing with relationships and body issues in the background. So, it was amazing to have the audience see our journeys and our fight and gain respect for us and what we do. Then to get the Bella spinoff was even more amazing. Brie and I loved giving our life to the Bella army and the E! viewers because we started to see that women were relating to us and our stories. And even though at times it was hard for us to put our lives out there we did it knowing that somebody was watching who probably felt alone and misunderstood and then would watch our show, seeing what we’re going through and how we got through it and then feeling more hopeful and a little less alone.
The growing fame, although rewarding did have its drawbacks. Once the sisters became mom’s they decided to end the show to protect their children as Brie’s eldest child, suffered from fear of cameras due to constant exposure. They share the sentiment that the only way they would ever return to reality tv is if given the opportunity to have the show focus on them specifically as businesswomen and entrepreneurs and not exactly their families. Nikki, however, does share that she would be open to doing a two-hour wedding special as she feels she owes it to the Bella Army who has been a part of every step of her relationship journey. After an illustrious career, Nikki and Brie decided to retire from professional wrestling in 2019. Although it was a bittersweet moment due to their still very strong passion and love for the sport, the icing on the cake was the call they received from the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for the WWE and professional wrestler himself, Vince McMahon with an invitation to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was held virtually but nevertheless, they were still able to accept the honor which they deem as their “Oscar-winning moment.”
In their personal lives, Nikki and Brie lead pretty low-key lives. Brie has been happily married to fellow professional wrestler Bryan Danielson (ring name Daniel Bryan) since 2014 and together they have two children, daughter Birdie Joe born in 2017, and son Buddy Dessert born in 2020.
Brie Bella: I think one of the biggest things is understanding compromise. When you’re single, you’re just living for yourself but when I got into my relationship, in the beginning, I realized that I wasn’t good at compromising. I was still operating as living for just me. And I realized that if you want to be in a good relationship, you have to learn how to compromise. It was hard for me at first. I feel like my husband, and I have such a healthy, beautiful relationship. You have to be willing to let go of your old life and understand what your new life with your partner is and create it as one which is really beautiful.”
Nikki publicly dated professional wrestler and actor John Cena for six years and they were engaged to be married. Ultimately the relationship ended and Nikki has since found love and happiness with her now-fiancé, professional dancer Artem Chigvintsev and together they share baby boy Matteo who was born in 2020. In true twin fashion, both sisters gave birth to their sons in the same year, one month apart.
Nikki Bella: With Artem, things feel easier in a lot of ways. I don’t feel as much pressure and I can genuinely be who I am. I made mistakes in my last relationship. Sometimes we hold ourselves to certain expectations and when we don’t meet those expectations, we become hard on ourselves, and I did that which was ultimately just hurting myself. I’ve learned how to communicate differently and be firm in what I want, recognizing that if it works that’s great and if not, that’s fine too and I can move forward. It took me a long time to realize not to settle for less and whatever life you want, you go for it and live it because that’s what brings true happiness. Artem has just calmed my soul. I’m a lot calmer and more laid back and living a more low-key life is the life for me, tucked away, hidden in the vines.
As Nikki pointed out at the beginning of our interview, being a woman in a male-dominated industry can be very challenging as women often face heavier scrutiny. Pensively, each sister reflects on their most challenging moments and how they have coped during those times to emerge on the other end stronger, better, and wiser.
Brie Bella: The last comeback I made at WWE before I retired was pretty hard. My daughter was seven months old at the time and we were filming the reality show as well so there was so much on my plate at the time. I wasn’t expecting the reaction I got when I went back. I had just had a baby, so I didn’t look the same and I still had baby weight to lose. Everyone was expecting pre-baby Brie Bella back so the responses from how the crowd saw me and the way in which I was being picked apart was so hard on me. I wasn’t ready for that, and I thought I’d get more support because returning to work after having a baby is not easy for a lot of women. I know the entertainment industry can be cruel, but that response really surprised me. I started falling into depression and ended up getting a life coach. It was hard to get out of that hole but eventually, I did it. When it comes to negativity, I tell myself that I am one second in that person’s world. Even though the negativity lives with me for hours or sometimes days or even weeks, it’s just one click, it’s one minute in those people’s lives that they’re thinking about, and then they just move on. I had to remind myself of that because everyone moves on so I can’t let it bother me. I have to shut out the noise because it’s really only loud to me and no one else.
Nikki Bella: For me, it was putting my relationships out there and then just getting slaughtered for them. Having such a public breakup was difficult because I felt that I had been so open and shared so much with the world regarding that relationship and then when I didn’t make the decision everyone wanted me to make, I was criticized for it. That was hard to push through and still is because now I’m in a different relationship and even though it’s not as public, I feel like I’m always the villain. People will speculate everything and if I don’t post my partner in five days, people surmise that I hate him, and it makes me apprehensive about sharing because it’s never good enough for people. And I understand it’s just a small group of people. There’s a larger number of people rooting for you and supporting you, but it can still be very tough. I remind myself that my faith, my family, and knowing who I am as a person is what matters and that’s how I get through the tough times.
They add to their gratitude, the love and support from their fiercely loyal fans—the Bella Army. To them, the Bella Army isn’t just a fandom but a community. A community of people who have found common ground in their adoration for this duo who in being themselves, have given them hope, strength, and courage to lead their own lives authentically.
Brie Bella: We’re so grateful for our fans. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be the Bella Twins. I think what the Bella Army feels from Nikki, and I is that same love and support back to them that they give to us because we know what it means. Having that relationship with them is so special because we know we’re basically supporting each other and keeping each other afloat.
Nikki Bella: It’s so beautiful to see the Bella Army continue to grow each day. Their support and love bring so much light and love to what we do as entertainers.
As they look toward the future, they wish to do more in the world, proselytizing for philanthropy work that moves them. Nikki sees herself supporting young girls and women through education and career industries. Her goal is to provide them with a platform to use and uplift their voices as well as assist in providing them access to resources to allow them to pursue and achieve their dreams. She’s also signed on as a judge for America’s Got Talent’s second spinoff series, America’s Got Talent: Extreme. She, alongside motorsports competitor and stunt performer Travis Pastrana will join AGT creator Simon Cowell as the show will showcase jaw-dropping acts by contestants vying for the ultimate prize. The show is currently filming and is set to premiere during the 2021-2022 television midseason. Brie has always considered herself a voice for the voiceless which to her is everything from the planet to animals, and even children. She also hopes to do more work in the entertainment industry behind the camera.
The unconditional love between these two sisters is palpable. They were born together, entered the world of entertainment together, and built a successful empire together. Even down to the way they would often look at each other throughout this interview with reassuring and supportive eye contact that reads “you’re doing a job, sis” was proof to any outsider that this is a bond that won’t break. In closing out our interview, I asked them to describe each other.
Nikki Bella: Brie has bohemian vibes to her. She’s very much a mother nature, one with the earth type. She’s a very stubborn but sweet person but she has a heart of gold and is always thinking of trying to protect and speak loudly for the voiceless. She’s always thinking about how she can be a better mom. She’s an incredible mom and one of the best moms I know. And she’s such an incredible example for me of being a mom. When she drinks, she’s one of the most fun people in the world!
Brie Bella: Nikki is the definition of a fierce, strong woman. Through everything she’s been through and experienced, she didn’t let the negativity of those experiences bring her down. Instead, she looked at the positive of those experiences to uplift herself and I think that’s why on reality television, so many people gravitated towards her because they felt like they were living life with Nikki but seeing that if they take the high road this is what will happen. I think she’s a great example of that. I too also think she’s a great mom. When she loves, she loves so hard. We often joke that we’ve made our kids and our men so needy because we’re so needy for them and we just love them so hard. And she’s a ride or die, a partner in crime type of person. When she makes the commitment to have your back, she’ll have it for life and you’ll always know and feel that she will be there to protect you, to be your shoulder to lean on, to be your backbone.
And that’s Nikki and Brie. Two women who have managed to become two of the most interesting and intriguing people in Hollywood. Through their many adversities and struggles, they’ve found strength. Through their many successes, they’ve found love and happiness.
There’s no denying that the impact and influence of these powerhouse sisters have made an indelible mark on the world. In an industry mostly led, dominated, and rewarded by men, Nikki and Brie have managed to not only survive but thrive, and they did it all together.”