Queen + Adam Lambert may be the headlining act at the Global Citizen Festival in New York City on Sept. 28, but festivalgoers won’t want to miss “The Man” Becky Lynch.
Lynch, who over the past year has become arguably the most talked-about figure in professional wrestling, will serve as one of the celebrity hosts of the event along with Hugh Jackman, Forest Whitaker and Lynch’s fiancé, WWE Universal Champion Seth Rollins.
“I’m beyond excited,” Lynch tells Yahoo Entertainment. “It’s such a wonderful cause. When you’re out there and you have a voice and a network, you always want to go out and put something good into the world. Especially with us, we get so caught up in the rat race — work, work, work, what’s next? — that it’s hard to sometimes shift your focus to think about how you can use this platform for the greater good.”
It’s the first time in the festival’s history that WWE talent is taking part in the event. In many ways, Lynch perfectly represents one of Global Citizen’s missions — ending gender inequality around the world.
“WWE is such a global entity at this stage,” Lynch said. “We’re universal, everybody can relate to the stories that we tell. It’s a testament to what we’ve done. There’s absolutely nothing greater than Global Citizen and trying to end world poverty and try and create equality for everyone on the planet and end gender inequality. It’s incredible.”
The Irish-born star has been a central player in the ongoing “Women’s Evolution” within WWE. Alongside Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Natalya Neidhart, Lynch has helped usher in an entirely new equal era of professional wrestling.
“I’ve proven that it doesn’t necessarily matter where you’re from, what your history is or the role that you see yourself put into, you can break through that and past that,” Lynch said. “We never thought that women would be main-eventing WrestleMania, but we did and we did because people cared.”
Aside from a handful of moments, women’s wrestling had become an afterthought in WWE. It took a fan movement in 2015, inspired by a 30-second match between four female stars, to spur the company to change.
Four years later, Lynch and her peers have shattered several industry barriers and participated in a number of historic moments, including at WrestleMania where she became the first and only woman to hold both the Raw and Smackdown women’s championships.
Now, WWE’s marketing campaign for its upcoming video game features Lynch — also the first woman to appear on a WWE video game cover — symbolically crashing through a glass ceiling and interrupting a black-tie affair.
“Give us the opportunity — give everyone equal opportunity — and let’s see what happens there,” Lynch said. “I’m not asking for a free ride or anything like that. It’s about earning your spot and I think that people don’t need to be held down because of gender, race, where they come from. It’s all about proving your worth as a human and being allowed to be treated as such.”
Lynch wasn’t always the brash, outspoken character she has evolved into over the past year. After joining WWE’s main roster (wrestlers are assigned to either the Raw or Smackdown brands), Lynch was almost exclusively used as a “babyface,” or good guy.
A storyline shift in August of 2018 that saw Lynch finally turn “heel” allowed her to reach new heights. Despite being a previous champion and a well-respected performer, Lynch’s somewhat unexpected explosion had an underlying message to it.
“I think [the best part of the past year has been] really seeing how invested people get into this and how it has changed people’s perceptions of what you can do as a woman or anybody really — saying enough is enough,” Lynch said.
“When I first became the Smackdown women’s champion, I felt guilty. I was thinking ‘Oh I’m sorry, I wish everybody could be the champion.’ I played myself down. I realized that it didn’t do myself any favors. I saw people who weren’t putting in a fraction of the work I was getting handed opportunities, titles, title shots. I looked and said ‘No when I get my chance again this isn’t going to happen again.’ I promised myself it wouldn’t and it hasn’t.”
3 years ago I won my first title and felt like apologising for it. Since then I’ve stood up, grown up, straightened my spine and changed this whole damn business. And I apologise to no-one for it. pic.twitter.com/OvoWsmJVjw— The Man (@BeckyLynchWWE) September 11, 2019
Lynch’s character upheaval has been compared to the likes of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who carried WWE during the late 1990s.
The new persona has opened several other creative doors for her. Lynch has appeared with Austin on his USA Network television show, starred in a series of spots for the “This is SportsCenter” ESPN ad campaign and appeared on the cover of Muscle & Fitness magazine — all in the past month.
That said, Lynch refuses to rest despite her demanding work schedule.
“It’s one thing to get on top and it’s a whole other thing to stay there. It’s all about making sure I keep up interest in storylines on TV, continuing to main event. Being consistent in making people care, making people talk. The more people talk the more I feel like I am doing my job.”
This year’s Global Citizen Festival taking place on the Great Lawn in Central Park on September 28, 2019. David Gray and NCT127 will perform at the Festival alongside headliners Queen + Adam Lambert, Pharrell Williams, Alicia Keys, OneRepublic, H.E.R. and Carole King, along with special guests French Montana, Ben Platt and Jon Batiste & Stay Human.
MSNBC, Comcast NBCUniversal and iHeartMedia will serve as presenting media partners and will air the festival on MSNBC, iHeartMedia Radio Stations and on the iHeartRadio App.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment
Want daily pop culture news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle’s newsletter.