WWE star Paige speaks out on intimate tape leak
Two years ago, WWE star Paige had her life turned upside down when a tape of her performing sexual acts was released online in an act of revenge porn.
The 26-year-old, whose life is the subject of an upcoming film starring Game of Thrones actress, Lena Headey, found herself at the centre of an online scandal after someone hacked her phone and leaked multiple private photos and videos.
"I made a big mistake. Huge. I put trust in the hands of someone that took advantage of a young girl years ago. It was my mistake and I’ll always take responsibility," she said after the incident in a statement on Twitter.
Following the leak, the WWE star had to take a break from wrestling. She had already been suspended at the time the video was shared, but the added stress became so much for her that she developed anorexia, sunk into a deep depression, and even lost her hair.
Now, speaking to the New York Post, Paige revealed how she felt in the weeks and months following the leak.
"To be publicly humiliated like that was terrible, and I don’t wish that for anyone," she said. "I didn’t go to work; I didn’t do anything. I felt so rock bottom."
The one thing that enabled her to get back on her feet, she says, was the support of her fans - in particular, an encounter she had with a young girl, maybe seven years old or so, who approached her in a grocery store to tell her how much she admired her.
"Of course, she didn’t have the internet and thought I was the most beautiful and most successful woman in the world," Paige said. "It opened my eyes to so many things. I was like, ‘I’m gonna let videos get in the way of things?’ I thought, 'what am I doing? I need to be successful for her.' My whole journey was supposed to be about inspiring people."
"I was at rock bottom for a year and a half — and the people who got me out of my rut were my fans," she said last year. "They were just like, ‘I know you can get out of this, you’re stronger than what you feel right now, I know you can make a comeback.’ And it just inspired me, like, ‘You’re right, why do I feel like I’m giving up right now?’"
Paige returned to the ring, but a later injury saw her retire from the fighting side of things. She went onto work as a SmackDown general manager, but has now taken a step back from WWE and released her own cosmetics line. She says she feels much happier now, and can show her fans more of Saraya-Jade Bevis - her real identity - than her wrestling persona.
The film about her life, named Fighting With My Family, is out in cinemas next week. It follows her journey into WWE, from her father's wrestling business and her accidental participation in the sport, all the way up to where she is today.