YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – WWE superstar Sonya Deville has been breaking down barriers for her entire career.

The former MMA athlete is the first openly-gay female WWE superstar.

“I mean, it’s not something that I ever think about like that, right? It’s always just like, ‘Yeah, I am who I am, and I’m a WWE superstar.’ But obviously, I realize the effect and influence it has on other members of the LGBTQ community, and I love being a part of that. That change in that kind of power that I can give to them, like, ‘Hey, if I can do it, you can do it. And if I can be myself unapologetically, so can you. And you should never be ashamed or afraid of who you are or who you love. It’s should simply just be,'” Deville said.

Deville hopes that WWE will introduce LGBTQ superstars in subtle ways going forward.

“Just as you would have a male superstar on the phone with their wife in a backstage segment or interacting with another female, you just have two females or two males interacting, you know, or maybe I’m on the phone with my girlfriend while you’re filming backstage, you know, something like that, that just allows the inclusivity to be there and not in a forced inorganic way, kind of just how it is in life,” Deville said.

The women of WWE recently broke down barriers in Saudi Arabia during their WWE Elimination Chamber exclusive premium live event. Sonya was involved in one of three women’s matches.

“We were there a couple of years ago having one woman’s match. Then we were there this past weekend having three, one of them being an Elimination Chamber-style match, which is a more intense, hardcore style match. So it’s incredible. It’s incredible to be able to go into a country that doesn’t see wrestling every week locally like the United States does, too, to hear and feel a different fan base, and it’s just really cool. It seemed like they were really grateful to have us there, and we were super grateful to be there,” Deville said.

Sonya listed several women as possible dream opponents for WrestleMania. The listed included current stars like Asuka, Charolette Flair, Becky Lynch, and Rhea Ripley. However, Deville said that WWE Hall of Famer Lita is the woman that she would like to share the ring with the most. Lita was Sonya’s coach on the WWE show Tough Enough in 2015.

That would be a kind of really cool, full circle moment. I would love to wrestle Lita,” Deville said.

Sonya will be one of the WWE superstars at the Road To WrestleMania event at the Covelli Centre on Saturday, February 26. This will be the first time that they’ve been in Youngstown since the pandemic started.

She discussed what it was like performing in front of an empty arena.

“It was definitely an adjustment. Obviously a lot of what we do, we’re very interactive, and we listened to our fans a lot in the audience, a lot. So it was definitely an adjustment, just not waiting for reactions and not planning on hearing any because you want it and just kind of honing the craft and really just focusing on what we were doing in the ring and brought aside a whole new set of challenges that us as performers aren’t used to normally. The whole point is to be in front of a crowd. So yeah, it was kind of like the opposite,” Deville said.

Sonya is excited to return to Youngstown.

“I’ve been to Youngstown quite a few times. It’s a great, great intimate setting in that in that arena, and I’m super excited. I’m so excited to be back on live events in general and just in front of these crowds and feeling the audience, so I’m stoked to come to Youngstown.”

More information about the event can be found on the Covelli Centre’s website.

Sonya can be seen on WWE Smackdown! on Fridays at 8 p.m. on Fox Youngstown.