[Originally published in DTM Magazine Issue #50; July-Aug 2008].
WORLD WRESTLING ENTERTAINMENT (WWE) diva Lilian Garcia made WWE history when she became the first female to announce WrestleMania in 2006.
“That night, it didn’t dawn on me that I was the first female announcer, especially the first Latina,” said Garcia, who is of Spanish and Puerto Rican descent. “I was just so excited I would make the history book.”
Garcia, who is the ring announcer for WWE’s Monday Night Raw since 1999, occasionally is involved in WWE’s dramatic storylines. Garcia’s first altercation with a wrestler was in September 1999, when Jeff Jarrett put her in a leg lock after she announced that he had lost the match. She later started an on-screen romance with wrestler Viscera in 2005. She also took part in Viva Las Divas of the WWE DVD and Divas 2005 magazine, which helped her gain popularity amongst fans.
Garcia, who declined to give her age, spent eight years of her childhood in Madrid, Spain because of her father, who was a United States military colonel, was stationed there. Garcia returned to the U.S. and graduated from Irmo High School in Columbia, South Carolina in 1984. She later graduated cum laude from the University of South Carolina in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in film production. She was the co-host of a popular morning show with Chuck Finley in the early 90s. She was also a VJ in Atlanta, Georgia, where she had an afternoon radio show.
“I always loved the entertainment field,” she said.
She was a top ten finalist in the 1985 Miss South Carolina beauty pageant. She said before the competition a story was published in the local newspaper alleging that the pageant was fixed for Garcia to win. Her sister Dalia won in 1983, making her the first Hispanic to win the pageant. She said the newspaper claimed that the judges wanted her to win in order to have the first pair of sisters win the competition. She said she tried to sue the newspaper, but could not prove libel.
“I knew that I would have won if it wasn’t for the scandal,” said Garcia, who credits pageants for their ability to boost self-confidence. “I still believe in the pageant system.”
When Garcia is not announcing for WWE, she pursues a singing career in English and Spanish. She began singing at an early age, and began taking part in singing contests alongside her sister. At age 14, she joined a music band and was able to perform at night clubs only because her mother went with her. She recalled missing her prom and not even dating because she was too busy every weekend playing at various shows.
Now, she often sings the national anthem at home games of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and has performed at the 1996 Summer Olympics, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and was an opening act for James Brown. She released her first single, “Shout,” in 2002 and recorded Torrie Wilson’s theme song, “Need A Little Time,” for the WWE Anthology album. In January 2004, WWE released the album “WWE Originals,” which included a new track from Garcia entitled “You Just Don’t Know Me At All,” which was used as her WWE theme song for live events.
Her passion for music led her to work on her debut solo album, “Quiero Vivir!” with producers George Noriega and Tim Mitchell. The predominantly Spanish album released in October 2007 included a duet with Latin pop singer Jon Secada. She explained Vince McMahon, the Chairman of the WWE, encouraged her to make an album in Spanish because he liked how she sang “La Borinqueña,” the national anthem of Puerto Rico. She said her next album will be in English, so her non-Spanish speaking fans from WWE can understand her songs.
“It was my first album and I wanted it to be the best it could be,” she said. “I wanted to be something I was proud of.”