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Mayra Dias Gomes: Rising from Scars to Stardom

By Billy Montgomery To look at her you see the makings of a star, but Mayra Dias Gomes says many scars preceded her rise. The Brazilian-born model, featured prominently in the pages of several esteemed publications, has garnered a legion of admirers. However, her path to stardom was not without great challenges, particularly her harrowing struggles with substance abuse that nearly compelled her to retreat from it all.

“I have been through a lot.  I know I don’t look like what I have been through,” the vivacious media personality said. “Eventually, I found the strength to withdraw from the chains that held me captive. Through every challenge, my resilience became my redemption." Gomes tapped into her artistic passions early but didn’t fully release them until the untimely death of her father. She found out the news of his passing from an online news article. “That was a very disturbing time for me.  I didn’t want to go to school anymore.  I just went into a rebellious period,” Gomes said. “I was dealing with depression following my father’s passing.  The substance abuse came along to dull the pain.” In a cathartic response, she began penning her teenage experiences, authentically sharing her struggles, resonating with the hearts of her peer group, and eventually earning the status of a best-selling author by the age of 19. Her success in Brazil drew the attention of U.S. entertainment circles, propelling her into the roles of a media personality for VH1 and MTV, and a contributor for Rolling Stone, Glamour, and The Hollywood Reporter.

Her burgeoning fame prompted the tattooed, multi-talented writer to make the transcontinental leap from Rio de Janeiro to Los Angeles at 21, facilitating her transition into another realm of entertainment. “I wanted to be in Hollywood since I was a child.  So, when I was ready, I decided it was time and I went straight to Hollywood,” Gomes said.

Over a decade as an entertainment reporter led Gomes to interview various celebrities. Despite the glittering exterior, she grappled inwardly with the same demons from her childhood."I experienced panic attacks for lots of years," she said. “I was just making those panic attacks worse with substance abuse."

Amidst the trials of her pain, the captivating millennial captured the attention of the modeling industry, including features in publications like Playboy Denmark and FHM last year as she strategically pivoted from international writer to international model. Yet, amidst her accomplishments, her most profound role is arguably her portrayal of May Valentine, a wrestler and broadcaster on the National Wrestling Alliance. “One night, while watching a women's (wrestling) match, I felt so inspired and empowered, and decided I wanted to become a professional wrestler,” Gomes said.  One to pursue her dreams, she enrolled in a wrestling school in Las Vegas.  Shortly afterward, she was discovered by Smashing Pumpkins rock band member Billy Corgan, owner and promoter of the National Wrestling Alliance.  Under the moniker, May Valentine, Gomes quickly became a hit, captivating fans with her charisma and on-screen presence. But despite the achievements, Gomes

said her biggest accomplishment is defeating the challenging years of substance abuse. Gomes said she has successfully embraced sobriety, celebrating two years of recovery. Gomes' said she hopes her openness about her experiences serve as a source of inspiration for those facing similar battles, demonstrating that resilience and determination can lead to personal triumphs. Gomes’ commitment to sobriety not only highlights her strength but also underscores the importance of mental health and well-being. Her journey serves as a reminder that, despite the challenges one may encounter, positive change and growth are achievable through dedication and support.  “It's not too late to start something new, and to become the best version of yourself," Gomes said. Photos by Billy Montgomery Heart of Hollywood Contributor Billy Montgomery

Billy Montgomery stands as a seasoned photojournalist, accomplished writer, and adept digital content producer with a rich and diverse portfolio. His extensive experience in media production has taken him to illustrious cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and Atlanta, where he has successfully crafted compelling photography, videography, and podcasts for a diverse clientele.

Beyond his role as a media producer, Montgomery is committed to education, imparting his knowledge through classes and workshops focused on media literacy and production for both youth and adults. He believes in the transformative power of media education to empower individuals in navigating the ever-evolving landscape of digital content creation.

In the realm of writing, Montgomery champions innovative thinking as a cornerstone of journalism. His perspective emphasizes the importance of embracing diverse viewpoints, acknowledging that true growth comes from listening to a chorus of voices rather than the echo of one's own. Living by the motto, “We don’t grow by listening to our own voice,” Montgomery encourages a dynamic and inclusive approach to storytelling that reflects the richness and complexity of the world we inhabit.

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