You may recognize Karlee Perez from the many spin-off series’ from the world-renowned World Wrestling Entertainment, WWE, franchise as the character Maxine, but now get use to knowing Perez as Catrina, one of the bad ass chicks from the Quinn Saunders directed hit show Lucha Underground gearing up for season 2 in two weeks.
I caught up with Karlee Perez in an exclusive interview and we chatted about how she went from studying criminology to becoming first in line to being “the female Rock” of her profession.
“I had no idea about anything in the industry. I started from scratch,” Perez said about stumbling into pro-wrestling. Her manager, at the time, was working close with WWE talent relations and passed her photo along to the right people. She had the look, but the people over at WWE had apprehensions if Perez could handle the physical aspect of wrestling, so to get started they put her in the minor leagues of wrestling.
“When WWE signed me they put me through their developmental stages which were their minor leagues which taught me the basics 101,” she said and the training helped her grow to earn a spot on the national level. They threw her right in the ring along with training six days a week learning the trade of wrestling and it taught her everything she needed to know for the next step in her career. Enter Lucha Underground.
“I got a phone call from the head writer of Lucha, Chris DeJoseph, who remembered my work and my character from WWE, so when Lucha Underground was in development a character came up that he felt I would be perfect for. That’s pretty much how I got signed on to that show,” Perez said. Knowing Robert Rodriguez (“Grindhouse,” “Sin City”) was attached to the project, Perez was immediately on board.
Season 1 of Lucha Underground was such a “tidal wave,” Perez said that season three is already in the works. “A show like this hasn’t been done before so it was a good test market and it worked,” she revealed adding, “People who were fans of wrestling enjoy it because it is actually a TV series that happens to have wrestling in it, so anyone who was a fan of that style of genre of sport enjoys the show because it draws them in, but the whole other half of the show that I’m used for prominently is the movie, the TV, it’s filmed like an actual feature film. You have these characters that go and compete against each other in the ring and then [there’s a] whole story line and all of our backstage segments are the stories of the characters and that’s what I’m used 100% for.”
Perez goes on to talk about her character Catrina. “My character as Robert Rodriquez likes, anyone who is a fan of his work know, always his main women are the dames, he always puts his women up on a pedestal. He likes strong, very bad ass bitches. That’s pretty much what they made me and my character.”
Season 2 is better than season 1 according to Perez since everyone is more comfortable with their characters. “There’s more meat” in the upcoming season and everyone is going to want to jump on board. And if you think Lucha Underground compares to a typical wrestling program think again. “They’re not similar at all, they’re apples and oranges. Lucha Underground, like I mentioned before, the production and the way it’s written and the story lines, it’s so feature film. You feel like you’re sitting there watching ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ the way it’s shot, everything about it is done differently so they really just can’t compare. There’s nothing similar about them.”
Moving forward in her career, Karlee Perez knows she can transform her career into being a full on action star because “why can’t a woman do it?” And she’s so right! “If you put your time and energy into becoming the best at what you do there’s no reason not to try it,” she said and believes Lucha Underground has given her that platform to start her takeover.
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Photo: Josh Shelton