Lilian Garcia is a multi-talented recording artist, broadcaster and globally-recognised television personality as part of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) family. A genuine sports entertainment 'history maker', Lilian was the first female and Latina to ever announce WrestleMania, holds the record for most times singing the US national anthem at wrestling's largest event, and is also the first female in-cage announcer for the Professional Fighters League. Lilian joins the #GoodJourneysPod to share her inspiring personal journey of dealing with loss, rediscovering her faith and finding joy in life.
On episode 22 of the Good Journeys with Second Mountain, the podcast series from Second Mountain Comms in partnership with Resilient Leaders Elements, Lilian joins Ben Veal to talk openly about losing both her parents and her marriage, rediscovering her faith life and self-identity, and being part of the worship team community at Mariner's Church in California. Lilian also shares memories of her time in the colourful world of professional wrestling, including her unforgettable chemistry with Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, seeing the world with the WWE, and singing the American national anthem on the truly unforgettable episode of WWF Smackdown that took place just two days after the 9/11 terror attacks.
Episode 22 of the #GoodJourneysPod is out now. Listen, watch and share:
SEARCHING FOR PEACE AFTER LOSS
"I promised her so many things; I'm letting her down"
Life can be a rollercoaster ride of ups, downs and unexpected twists and turns. Lilian Garcia certainly has learnt this the hard way, after losing both of her parents in the space of just a few years and then seeing her marriage break down in 2021. Faced with considerable loss and dealing with bereavement, Lilian explains on 'Good Journeys with Second Mountain' how spending some time back in her native Spain proved to be a necessary restorative step on her personal journey to self-discovery and rediscovering her zest for life once again:
"I feel like I had lost myself for the longest time; it's really hard when I tell people this, but ... look at the inner child inside of you. Is that inner child happy? Are you taking care of that inner child? Are you keeping promises to that inner child that you [made] a long time ago?"
"I went back to Spain where I grew up, and back to where I was playing in the park, and I sat on the same bleachers ... I'm seeing my ghost everywhere, playing, skipping rope, eating sunflower seeds, just laughing and having fun ... I was just looking around [thinking] wow, I promised her so many things and I'm letting her down."
SHINING A BRIGHT LIGHT
"I came out of there like a phoenix"
In 2021, Garcia was introduced to Mariner's Church, a non-denominational Christian megachurch located in California's Orange County. For Lilian, a highly-accomplished singer/songwriter accustomed to performing in front of crowds of ten of thousands, being part of such a vast and vibrant church community immediately felt like a comfortable fit.
For the last two years, Lilian has become a proud ambassador of the church and a core part of its worship team, with the Mariner's Church community playing a central role in Garcia rekindling her faith and giving her life to Jesus:
"I just came out of [Mariner's] like a phoenix. I came out of there completely different. I have to give credit where credit is due: giving my life and fully surrendering it to God and to Jesus has made the switch for me. It's been so beautiful that I want to share it with people, but I'm trying to be careful not to do it in such a way where it's cramming it down anybody's throats. I don't think that's necessarily the way to go, and I'm not turning into a 'Bible thumper' or anything like that, I'm just sharing my story of what's worked for me."
MAKING HISTORY WITH WWE
Lilian Garcia is recognised worldwide and widely regarded by sports entertainment fans as one of the industry's most beloved personalities. Closely linked to the World Wrestling Federation / WWE from the late 1990s onwards, Lilian would surpass legendary 'Queen of Soul' Aretha Franklin to hold the record for singing 'America the Beautiful' at the company's premiere annual spectacle WrestleMania, and never wavered in the positivity, enthusiasm and warmth that she brought to the show.
Yet her lengthy run with the world's leading wrestling promotion came incredibly close to ending before it even began, as Lilian shares on the #GoodJourneysPod:
"There was no mention of [being the] ring announcer until the day I showed up on Monday Night Raw [the WWE's flagship television show, broadcast globally] ... at 3:30 that afternoon they told me I was going to be replacing the legend Howard Finkel and here you go. Twenty minutes before going live on the air, they told me: no cue cards. I almost ran; you almost didn't get Lilian Garcia as your ring announcer for fifteen years based on that night! I looked at the EXIT sign and I was in full-on panic mode, hyperventilating.
"I didn't know these people [the WWF performers] ... I grew up watching wrestling but I grew up watching Ric Flair, Andre The Giant ... I didn't know who The Rock was, I didn't know who Stone Cold Steve Austin was, I didn't know Triple H, I didn't know any of these people!"
This unfamiliarity would swiftly be overcome though, as Lilian would join during the height of professional wrestling's mainstream popularity in 1999 and remain there until 2016. Over the course of almost two decades, she would be part of countless unforgettable moments, including multiple legendary encounters with The Rock, with whom she shared incredible on-screen chemistry.
"It was so much fun working with him," recalls Lilian. "He could make me blush so easily! There's just something he and I had, this chemistry, this banter back-and-forth, that worked."
Episode 22 of the Good Journeys with Second Mountain podcast is out now.
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