Last night Jeanine Mason was crowned champion of season 5 of So You Think You Can Dance, taking the more brief than usual title of America’s Favorite Dancer. Unlike the other three finalists, who’d gotten lots of pre-season camera time and love, Jeanine was virtually unknown before the Top 20, making her win even more impressive. With each passionate performance, Jeanine built a fan following. As Jeanine grew as a dancer and her performances got better seemingly every single week, her fan base grew in devotion in size. As she peaked in the finale, so did her popularity–on the largest voting night in the history of So You Think You Can Dance, no one received more calls (or Twitter shout outs) than Jeanine Mason.
Jeanine wowed the judges and America with her powerful dancing, her growth as a performer and technician, and her bubbly sense of humor. This morning we chatted with Jeanine, who still can’t quite believe she was named America’s Favorite Dancer. Just as she was on So You Think You Can Dance, Jeanine was charming, absolutely hilarious, self effacing, and a gracious winner. Here are some of the highlights of our chat.
On What Finale Night Was Like For Her:
It was the craziest night ever. It [the show] finished and I went straight into press. I was standing behind those ropes being taken pictures of and I felt like I’d be sucked out of my life on to some Hollywood red carpet. It was amazing. I am so happy to be here, I am so blessed to be here. I’m loving every second of this, just trying to take it all in.
And then we had a wrap party with all the cast, production, choreographers, and dancers. So we had an incredible party and obviously did a lot of dancing.
On Whether She Thought She’d Won Last Night:
I tried to stay positive and to convince myself that it was a possibility. But once you’re standing there and that ominous, horrible music played–music that will always haunt me. I literally just didn’t think it could happen and Brandon is such an amazing dancer. He is such a powerful and beautiful dancer, and I admire him so much, and I definitely thought he had it. So I was just ready to give him a hug and step back and let him have his moment. Hearing Cat say my name was so surreal, it was amazing.
On Brandon, The Runner-Ups Kind Words:
Brandon and I have been friends for along time, we’re both from Miami. He’s such a nice guy on top of being one of the strongest dancers, which is very evident in his muscles. He was so supportive and so happy of me. And he was just so supportive and so proud of me and I would’ve been just as proud of him. And I am proud of him. So proud of him. And I know he’s going to have an incredible career, they’re all going to have incredible careers.
On People Voting for Her and If She Thought She’d Be Sent Home:
It’s the greatest feeling ever to hear that people actually picked up the phone and voted for you. Somebody asked me if there was ever a week I thought this is the week I am going home? And I said, “Yeah, every week.” It’s literally every week you think you are going home. You’re constantly thinking and you’re not trying to play that guessing game. But you’re like it has to be me because last week she went home, and she has brown hair, and she’s a contemporary dancer too. You just think about the craziest possibilities.
On Her Early Love/Hate Relationship With Dance:
It wasn’t really that I hated it. I always loved dancing. I hated that it made me feel so defeated towards the beginning of my lessons. I was so horrible my teachers didn’t feel like putting in the effort because they knew how much work it would take to get me to a place that was anywhere near good. It took me such a long time to find a teacher that was willing to work with me and put that into me. I definitely came home crying a lot between the ages 6 to 9. My mom said it was the hardest thing in the world for her to sit there and see me sobbing and tell me she thought it was something that was good for me. She didn’t know what it was, but she had a gut feeling that she needed to keep me in dance. I am so grateful for keeping a stern fist, though I was pretty convincing.
Her Advice for Young Dancers:
It would definitely be to never give up. I doubted myself way too many times. I doubted myself when I first started dancing. I wasn’t a promising dancer so I thought I couldn’t do it. My mom told me you are going to do this. Then I doubted myself when the auditions rolled around and I didn’t want to audition for the show, I thought I couldn’t do it. … I need to stop doubting myself and it took this to realize this, but I will never doubt myself again.
On Her Hollywood Dreams:
I hope to do film. I would love to do movie musicals, because it incorporates so much dance. I am such a big fan of Chicago and Hairspray and all those MGM films that Evan would be so amazing at as well. I would love to work on a film that Incorporated dancing and acting, that would be my dream.
On Her Dream Hollywood Dance Partner:
I’m going to say Hank Azaria. Because he’s hilarious. The guy is so funny and he probably has some great moves.I’d love to have a fun comedic dance with him. But if it had to be a sexy tango, who wouldn’t take Brad Pitt, you know? Or Robert Pattinson, wouldn’t mind him either.
On the Possibility if That Contemporary Kiss with Jason Led to Romance:
No, I’m still looking. So if they’re between 18 and 23 and really funny — let them know that I’m here and I’m waiting.
On Her Advice for Next Season’s Dancers:
Pack extra band aids. Especially if they’re as clumsy as I am. And never give up. Even in that moment when they think they are out of their comfort zone, that they must look like an idiot attempting to Paso or something; that they can do it. And that it is so worth it in the end to go out there and give it their best shot.
–Abbey Simmons, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image Courtesy of FOX)