"Donald Trump, I'm not afraid of you."
Maria Kanellis is currently a professional wrestler with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Kanellis is also a trained actress, developing singer, aspiring songwriter, practicing fashion designer and a model.
Born on February 25, 1982 in Ottawa, IL, Kanellis grew up surrounded by cars and in her free time could be found juggling sports, pageants and dancing. The oldest of three siblings, she graduated from Ottawa Township High School in 2000 before spending some time as a student at Northern Illinois University.
In 2004, Kanellis made her first of many television appearances when she was a contestant on the reality series "Outback Jack." Soon after she tried out for and placed fifth in the "WWE Raw Diva Search" out of thousands of contestants. Although she was eliminated, she was later hired by WWE as a backstage interviewer on "Monday Night Raw" and began training for the next three years at the Ohio Valley Wrestling facility. She began competing in the ring as a wrestler in 2005. Since her debut, Maria has worked alongside the company's biggest superstars including Vince McMahon, John Cena, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Kanellis has never shied away from a storyline and is most comfortable in the spotlight. She posed for the April 2008 cover and pictorial in Playboy magazine, which WWE incorporated into one of the year's most popular storylines on "Monday Night Raw." For the Playboy shoot, she was involved in determining several elements, including lighting, wardrobe and style. She has also created outfits for her wrestling matches, television appearances, red carpet charity events and high-profile WWE ceremonies. She is currently developing her own clothing line, and she also writes and produces her own music.
Kanellis is also currently performing on WWE's "Smackdown" roster, and has live events, signings and appearances worldwide. Her television credits include appearances on "Family Feud," "Project Runway," " VH1's Top 20 Video Countdown," "The Insider," "Best Damn Sports Show," "Red Eye," and "The Today Show."
She is also very active when it comes to charity work, from The Make-a-Wish Foundation to Generation Rescue, Paws for Style, St. Jude's Children Hospital and The Kentucky Humane Society to name a few. Philanthropy holds a special place in Maria's life and she continually donates her time and money toward newfound, worthy causes. She has also traveled overseas with the WWE for the past five years for its annual "Tribute to the Troops Tour," donating her time and energy to entertain and spread goodwill to our servicemen and women stationed overseas. She has just begun her rise to stardom but already has millions of fans and an intense drive for success. The life mantra that inspires her is, "Passion is my motivation."
Maria's charity is the Make-A-Wish Foundation
Before "The Celebrity Apprentice," Maria had worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation a number of times and she's had many opportunities to get to know the Make-A-Wish kids. Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. When Maria first met the Make-A-Wish kids and learned about their situations, she was heartbroken, but found comfort in knowing that through Make-A-Wish, these kids can still find some happiness.