Brandi Rhodes: Empowerment and Community With AEW Heels

AEW Heels
Credit: All Elite Wrestling

Full Interview with Transcriptscan be found here

All Elite Wrestling has just announced a new membership program for it’s female focused platform, AEW Heels.

Led by AEW’s Chief Brand Officer, Brandi Rhodes, AEW Heels is a place where women can gather with friends and professionals alike, in a spirit of celebration, representation, and empowerment. With virtual meet and greets, special Q&A sessions, professional workshops, tutorials, and more, Heels sets a tone of a fun “Ladies Night Out” mixed with resources designed to elevate and inspire women in the wrestling community.

The first event kicks off on Zoom, on Friday, August 7th, with a special Q&A session with AEW Referee, Aubrey Edwards. “Aubrey asks a lot of questions herself, because she is the co-host of the AEW Unrestricted Podcast, so I thought it would be nice to put her on the other side, and take some questions,” says Brandi, when speaking about their upcoming lineup for their new launch. “Aubrey has a compelling and interesting story. She’s a very smart woman, and highly accomplished.”

It also includes a session on social media strategy with Brandi Rhodes, and a special session on respect and empowerment in the workplace with Keisha Ann-Gray, AEW partner at Proskauer.

Supporting and empowering women is at the heart of AEW Heels, and what CBO Brandi Rhodes wishes to accomplish with it. “It’s an ongoing struggle for women to feel heard in the workplace. I’m not immune to that, I have successful days and not so successful days on the business end.” When speaking about offering tangible resources to women she says, “That’s why we opted to have Keisha Ann-Gray come in through the Jaguars. She’s going to give a really phenomenal talk about empowering women in the workplace.”

This is not the first time AEW Heels has offered professional resources to the women in the AEW Heels community. Previously, AEW’s Chief Legal Officer, Megha Parekh, gave a talk on mental health and stress management, in the wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Utilizing the strengths of leadership positions to help elevate women in all fields and backgrounds, is paramount to Brandi Rhodes, especially during a year that has brought unprecedented challenge to everyone. “I have to have ways to deal and cope, and progress myself to a place where I can get through any challenge. It’s very important to share these tools with other people, rather than watch other people struggle.”

“It’s important to learn from different people on how to cope, and also to learn that you’re normal not to feel okay all the time.”

Empowerment comes in different forms, as another key focus for Brandi Rhodes is people from different backgrounds coming together, breaking the barriers that divide them, and understanding how different perspectives and experiences can shape people as they work together in a collaborative environment. Brandi says, “When you talk to other people and learn what their challenges are, and the things they have to face on a daily basis that are very, very real to them, it opens your eyes… It’s a great thing to see a light bulb go off for someone where they’re like, Okay. I understand that now. And I understand how I can change someone else’s experience by thinking about this. It can change relationships, lives, and how people do business together.”

While Heels members can look forward to talks of empowerment from industry leaders, and serious conversations that can bring people together through understanding struggle and overcoming obstacles, they can also experience a fun, laid back atmosphere with some of their favorite wrestlers within AEW’s women’s division. Each Zoom Party starts off with a dance party, where fans and wrestlers alike are singing, dancing, and hanging out together, in a “Ladies Night Out” atmosphere. They’ve also included makeup tutorials from AEW’s Glam Squad, and have planned fashion events with AEW Gear Maker, Sandra Gray.

“I think it’s really important, at the forefront of everything, to have fun. We want everybody to have a great time when they get on these calls,” said Rhodes. She remarks on how having fun can be yet another way of empowering herself in the action packed world of wrestling. “The one thing that gives me joy when I’m in the ring or at work, is noticing I’m having fun immediately. All apprehensions have gone out the window. When I step through the curtain, when the light turns on, I get to be who I want to be, and who I worked so hard to be all this time, which for me, is so much fun.”

AEW Heels may have plenty of fulfilling and fun Zoom events in store throughout the rest of the year, but in-person events are also something to look forward to once “things go back to normal.” Brandi has a lot of plans in store once fans are able to attend live shows again. “I’m very excited to get together for our very first Heels party, which is something that would revolve around a pay-per-view weekend… I would also really love to do a Heels episode of A Shot of Brandi that we can shoot and all be a part of, with key individuals working with me on making things. The opportunities are endless”. These ideas are all in addition to the planned Heels specific meet and greets, VIP events, and themed parties and events.

AEW Heels is a platform of joy, fun, and empowerment. When considering joy, Brandi spoke of a moment that has brought her the most joy as Chief Brand Officer of All Elite Wrestling:

“In the very beginning, when we announced our partnership with Kulture City, I saw there was an onslaught of emails, tweets, and instagram messages of people who were just abundantly thankful, sharing all kinds of different stories from people who have personal connections to having sensory issues, or people that they love having sensory issues. That was overwhelming enough, but then I went to work that week, and one of our crew members, Burt, came up to me and started crying. He said, ‘I’ve been waiting forever for this to happen.’ He has a family member who has sensory issues.

He’s never been to a wrestling show, and he’s been working in wrestling for years and years. Now, he could bring that family member. That was one of those moments that just wrapped it’s hands around my heart and squeezed because it was almost too much.

As long as I can remember, all I’ve ever wanted to do was be able to help people… And that’s something I’m fortunate to be able to do whenever a unique opportunity presents itself, like Heels, Kulture City, working with Special Olympics or Make-A-Wish, Dreams Come True, places like that where you can literally give extra time and dedication and change someone’s experience in life. There’s nothing like that.”

You can register for AEW Heels at https://alleliteheels.com/store.