'Dancing with the Stars' Exclusive Interview: Jaleel White Talks About Challenges and Rewards
'Dancing with the Stars' Exclusive Interview: Jaleel White Talks About Challenges and Rewards
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
With dancers like these, anybody could win Dancing with the Stars season 14. How might a competitor react?

Talking to BuddyTV, Jaleel White gave an answer to that question and much more. Who entertains Jaleel during rehearsals? What has dancing done for his body? And what challenges face those who compete on Dancing with the Stars? Keep reading to find out what Jaleel White had to say.

How has Dancing with the Stars been for you so far?
Jaleel White: Whew! I work seven days a week. I worked hard before, but I've never worked this hard. I've lost 12 pounds -- all my pants are falling off my butt and I'm on to the last hole in my belts.

But at the same time, I'm getting a lot of laughs. You guys don't realize that we're cooped up in that rehearsal hall all day. We really get a chance to get some funny interactions with a lot of great people. Gavin DeGraw keeps me on the floor. Roshon Fegan makes me want to be 20 again. And William Levy -- the one-man bachelorette party -- he's always offering me a Pollo Loco chicken every day when I take a break.

If I could just shut out the cacophony that is the paparazzi, I'm having a blast.


Why did you want to compete on Dancing with the Stars in the first place?

JW: 'Cause my mom said it would be the cherry on top of everything that I'm doing! That's why. [laughs] But at the same time, I'm like, if I can make it through this thing alive, it's going to be one of the greatest experiences of my career. I know that.


What has been the absolute best thing about the show?
JW: One of the best things is that I'm in really good shape. I'm in great shape right now. I mean, I wish I had time to go play basketball somewhere. I might be able to compete with a 21 year old again!

The other thing is learning these dances. And so far I've been able to present, you know? I hope people realize: I've been able to give three respectable dances! I haven't done anything out there yet that I've been embarrassed to see on YouTube. So if I can just continue this streak of dancing -- and I love watching back with my daughter on Tuesday mornings. That's still my trophy -- being able to watch that dance and go "Hey! You know, I could do a slow step better here and there, but that was good, baby!"


Has there been anything on Dancing with the Stars so far that surprised you?
JW: Man... You know, we're not learning these dances on a basic level. It's championship-level choreography. This week it's particularly real. I'm doing a tango, to rock music, and Kym is basically whipping me up to be Mick Jagger... But she's my friend!

It's just a challenge. Every aspect of it's a challenge.


Going forward in the competition, what do you think might be your biggest stumbling block?

JW: I think I'm going to just have to just continue to narrow my focus.

People keep coming up asking me who my biggest competition is... I'm not looking at it that way! There are no reality stars in here with a questionable work ethic. Everybody in this competition has a kickass work ethic. Everybody! And so that's changing the dances that you're seeing and it's also changing the anxiety. It's kind of upping the anxiety a little bit, because you know everybody is going bring. Right now, Gladys Knight -- you look over and you see fricking Gladys Knight in there! At her age. And you go, "How long has Gladys Knight been in today?" "She's been here four hours..."

Just trying to keep up, keep in step with everybody else and not fall to the back of the pack -- that's really the name of the game.


Since you've been in so many scripted shows, how is it different being on a show like Dancing with the Stars, a reality competition where everything is live?
JW: Well, one of the things is: They capture every single thing you do. From the second I walk in that building to the second I leave, they are filming. That is incredibly, like... overwhelming. Your every motion, your every misstep, if you fall, if you do anything, they're capturing it.

When you're doing something like this and you're really putting yourself out there, ideally you'd like to be able to do it in a private room somewhere, where even if you're angry with yourself, you can be angry with yourself. You're not judged by everybody.

So that's kind of hard, because you're really offering a piece of yourself and saying, "Hey. This is how I learn, and I'm doing my best. And I hope you appreciate the finished product."


What has been your favorite dance so far, and what are you looking forward to?
JW: Well, I loved the foxtrot. And I'm looking forward to the waltz. And I'm actually really looking forward to this week. This week has such tricky footwork that I know, if I can get past this week, I'm going to have the knowledge that I can get past anything.

Not enough Dancing with the Stars for you? Click here to check out everything at ABC's official DWTS page!

Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8pm and Tuesdays at 9pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)


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