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EXCLUSIVE TV Goodness Q&A: Dancing with the Stars Champion Peta Murgatroyd [INTERVIEW] 

Photo Credit: ABC
Photo Credit: ABC

About a year ago, I had the fortune of doing an interview with one of the newest dancers from ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Peta Murgatroyd was in her second season and about to go into the semi-finals with her then partner, Donald Driver. We all know what happened after that…..they won!  Well, I recently got the chance to speak with Peta again. It’s clear she has found her place at the head of the pack in more ways than one. 

TVGOODNESS:  The last time you and I spoke, it was the semi-finals and your second season. And you were about to go in and then you guys won.  I wanted to first say congratulations and second tell me how you felt about that, how did it go?

PETA: That season with Donald Driver was the most amazing season.  I was coming off a season where I was out first, my first season.  I was just so thrilled to be through to the semi-finals and just be there for the ninth week.  We went into the semi-finals strong and we came out strong.  I think we had the waltz and the samba.  It was such an amazing experience.  He’s such an amazing person.  Yeah I wouldn’t take back anything that happened.  I think we got all 9s and 10s. So yeah, it was just incredible.

TVGOODNESS:  Yes, and the best reaction to winning anything ever by him.

PETA:  Oh you mean when we actually won?

TVGOODNESS: Yeah…that was great. 

PETA:  Yeah, he just took off and rolled on the floor.  (Laughs)  You could literally see our hearts beating.  It was so tense.  It was probably the most nervous I have ever been in my life. And it had the best outcome, it was amazing.

TVGOODNESS: Well I was very happy for you so congratulations.  I don’t really want to talk a lot about the all-star season, except to say, that Bollywood dance [with celebrity partner Gilles Marini] – I knew you were a little nervous about it – was probably the best dance that season.

PETA:  Oh, my gosh!  Thank you.

TVGOODNESS: You’re welcome.

PETA:  Yeah that was a tough week… we were in Miami and neither of us had obviously done Bollywood before.  So we just had to pull it together really quickly and it just wasn’t working that week.  So we just prayed that it would come together and eventually it was good.

TVGOODNESS:   Let’s jump to this season.  No one knew you [and The Bachelor’s Sean Lowe] were part of the cast right away.  Can you talk a little bit about that?  Because I was a little surprised when they did announce the cast…and you weren’t even there.  So I was wondering if you can talk a little bit about that process.

PETA: Yeah, absolutely.  It was something contractually with The Bachelor, so he wasn’t allowed to be announced until the season finale was over from The Bachelor, which was fair enough because they wanted viewers to be watching The Bachelor instead of thinking about the new project that Sean Lowe was doing, with Dancing with The Stars.  So we were in hiding, for almost two weeks. We started a little later than everybody else.  And then we just sort of had to go to these remote studios in Downtown LA and Malibu, sort of stay out of the area of West Hollywood; so we wouldn’t get caught training.  But luckily we were allowed to train, because if we weren’t allowed to train then it would have been a disaster!  But it was super hard to keep it a secret, because I wanted to let everyone know that I was involved in the show and that I wasn’t kicked off or fired or anything like that.  When people started mentioning through twitter and Facebook and everything, it just went crazy.  And especially when we were announced, everything just blew up and it was amazing.  It was just great to finally let it out.

TVGOODNESS: Tell me about working with Sean.

Photo Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC
Photo Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC

PETA:  What you see is what you get with Sean.  He is an amazing person; a soft, gentle person.  He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.  I think when I first watched his series of his Bachelor run, I thought he was this really sweet guy that had the qualities of a great man.  And then when I got to know him and saw him in real life, he is actually that person, what you see on television – that is Sean Lowe.  And I really respect that and I think that’s amazing that someone can actually be a real portrayal of themselves on television.  But apart from that he’s a great student.  He listens. We have a great fun time in practice, with a lot of hard work, as well, combined.  But we tend to have a lot of fun together and we just make it an exciting season.  He’s been a great student so far.

TVGOODNESS:  Now let me ask you about this season, you came off an all-star season….Do you think the judges are scoring fair?  I want to know because I’m struggling with how they are voting on some of you guys.

PETA:  Yeah, I guess how we think that….it’s hard because even for us we’ve come back with people that we are starting from scratch with, which is what the show is about.  And that’s what I love about the show, seeing someone who has no experience come in and learn steps.  A couple of us have said that, coming from the All-Stars, cause it was hard because all the other people could dance that we had before, now we’ve gone back to the basics, which is great.    But we definitely think that the scoring has been quite hard.  But I do think it has been fair in most cases.  With Sean last week, they gave us three 7s; I thought we were going to get three 6s from them.  But I thought they were actually quite generous.  Yeah, you never which way they will go.  I find that I can’t even pick my own score by the end of the dance.

TVGOODNESS:   So from your first season to now – what’s the biggest change for you on the show?

PETA:  When I first started, I didn’t really know who I was.  I’ve been on camera before but I didn’t know if I had to be something that I’m not.  Like did I have to be a character or slip into someone else’s character that has left the show like Edyta or somebody; and I really didn’t want to do that.  And I tried to be myself, but I think I have grown as a woman and I’m a stronger one now through everything….you know….what  four seasons have gone through and put me through, I think I can be myself and I’m comfortable with seeing myself on camera.  And I just love to be able to laugh and have fun and being me without having to be someone else.

TVGOODNESS:  I agree, I think that is amazing.  So what are you guys dancing in Week 7? And how are you preparing for it because it’s getting harder and harder and you are getting closer to the end.

PETA:  The 7th week, and it’s Latin week.  We have the Rhumba.  I think it’s going to be a good dance for sure.  He [Sean] has to come back and look like a completely different dancer then he was in the Samba.  He has to be gentle; he has to show passion; he has to be able to act it out on a lot of the moves.  You know it’s a very sensual, sexy dance so he’s got to be able to portray that and be comfortable with that.  And he’s really getting it.  I just touched down in North Carolina.  So I’m here ready to rock and roll when he’s finished with his event.

TVGOODNESS:   So just to go off topic a second what other things have you been doing besides Dancing with the Stars?  Because I know at the time I talked to you, you were talking about some stuff, eventually happening.

PETA:  Off-season there’s a whole lot of shows that all the dancers do for corporate events, to cruise lines, to all these other things. My main passion is to be on stage. I’m auditioning all the time. I’m taking acting lessons. I really, really want to act, that’s my main thing.

TVGOODNESS:  Talk about some of the new DWTS dancers. You have some really interesting new dancers.  Sharna was in the troupe last time.  I actually really like her and she’s not the only one, but talk about the new people.  It’s kind of the biggest new group in a while.

PETA:  Sharna is amazing!  I’ve known Sharna for years.  We have competed against one another in the Latin Ballroom competition world.  And we’ve traveled together, I think five years on tour, with Burn the Floor.  So I’ve known her.  She has a heart of gold.  She is a strong, independent, lovely woman.  And she’s a great addition to the show.  She’s got a lot of knowledge about dance and she’s a very patient, she’s a very good teacher.  I’m so glad they brought her from the troupe, because she’s been there for too long anyway.  Lindsay — I love Lindsay. She is such a breath of fresh air. She brings that innocence, that young beauty.  She is like a little princess, so beautiful.  And I think she’s a great teacher as well.  I think she was perfect for Victor.  And Gleb, he’s great.  He’s a sexy hunk; he looks like a GQ model — something for all ladies at home. I think they did a good job with him too.

TVGOODNESS:  You know we write about television and I just wanted to find out if you had any “not miss” television shows. I know your time is very limited, but what do you watch?

PETA: If I turn on the TV, it’s to turn on the movie channel or play music before I leave to go to work.

TVGOODNESS: Is there anything about the show that people would be surprised about, of Dancing with the Stars?  Something backstage that is interesting to someone passionate about the show…They did a little video this past week but I was just curious on your point of view being backstage..

PETA: I was just going to say that it’s not all glitz and glamour.  Backstage, you know there is a whole lot of stress.  People are running around like crazy.  It’s like a madhouse.  There are a lot of emotions running high.  People are just going crazy.  People are late sometimes.  It’s not picture perfect as it may seem. It’s always, go, go, go.

Thanks to Peta for speaking with us for a second time!  She has a lot of projects in the works, so I think it’s safe to say we will be seeing a lot more of her!

Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c and Tuesday at 9/8c on ABC.


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