Dancing With the Stars is no stranger to jaw-dropping eliminations, but Karamo Brown and Jenna Johnson’s elimination on Halloween Night hurt. Karamo and Jenna were so entertaining to watch and always looked like they were having such a blast together. HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with the talented DWTS pro about what was going through her head when she and Karamo were in the bottom two and then heard their names called. Even though these pros are used to eliminations, Jenna admitted it doesn’t get any easier for them.
Her run on season 28 may be over, but Jenna is already looking ahead to the future. She’ll be going on the Dancing With the Stars tour in early 2020 and she noted that she’s ready to “tackle” hosting, which is something she’s always been passionate about. Jenna also gushed that married life with fellow DWTS pro Val Chmerkovskiy is a “dream.” She revealed how they handle being on the show together as both a married couple and competitors.
First and foremost, I’m so bummed for you both.
Jenna Johnson: It’s weird. I think it’s because he did so well and we ended on such a high, I’m so proud. I’m obviously devastated that we’re not in rehearsal right now. I feel like we should be rehearsing, but I guess it was our time to go and that’s just kind of the nature of the show. You never know what’s going to happen.
What was going through your head when you and Karamo were in the bottom two and then you both heard your names called?
Jenna Johnson: There are no real words to describe what that feeling is like when they say you’re in the bottom two. I saw that we were with Kate and Pasha and I feel like Kate is the dark horse in this competition. She is working so hard and I think that she has so much potential and then I was also looking at Karamo and I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, he had such a great night tonight. Could it be us?’ And then they called our name and I was just devastated, but Karamo sprinted around the floor and made an exit. I think it was a perfect ending, just a perfect little bow on top of this season that we had together.
Do eliminations get easier for pros as seasons go on?
Jenna Johnson: No, it never gets easier because you’re so invested and you care so much. This is our baby for three months and it’s my dream job as well, so I care a lot about it. I think you never get used to being in that situation of being in the bottom two and being eliminated. It’s really tough.
Carrie Ann chose to save you and Karamo and then Bruno chose to save Kate and Pasha, so it came down to Len. That is so intense because it’s literally down to one person.
Jenna Johnson: It’s hard. They were picking their favorite child. But ultimately, I think that Len really loved the traditional technique that passion Kate had been doing all season and so I kind of had a feeling that he was going to go with Kate and Pasha, but you don’t know until you’re in that moment.
How do you feel about the judges’ choice addition this season?
Jenna Johnson: I think it’s been a nice change to give the judges more of a voice because sometimes you never know what’s going to happen with the voting. I think there could potentially be these shocking eliminations, which I think we’ve also had those this season, so I think it’s a good way to switch up the voting and give the judges more of a voice, but we’ll see what happens next season if they’re going to keep it or what will happen.
You and Karamo had such great chemistry and had such a great bond. What was it like working with him?
Jenna Johnson: I think that what you see on TV with Karamo and Queer Eye is what you’re going to get. He’s super kind, humble, he was so into the show, which I loved, and he was a massive fan and had told me beforehand. I was excited to go on this journey with him and he took every style head-on and really wanted to do the best at it. We had a great fabulous time together and I think we really bonded. We had good chemistry, we laughed a lot, and it was great.
This season has had a number of major injuries. What’s that like for the pros? Do injuries happen often or have you all been doing it so much that it doesn’t really happen to you?
Jenna Johnson: I think people don’t understand that dance is truly a sport, so you are prone to just as many injuries as you are if you were going to be playing football or basketball. It is high-intensity and it is full-out and it’s nonstop and so all of us dancers, I think our bodies are used to it, and we’re normalized to the aggression and the intensity that comes with dancing. I think a lot of these celebrities that are trying this out for the first time, their bodies don’t know how to handle it and so I think they are a bit more prone to injury. But my body has never hurt so bad this season especially because I had such a big partner. He was tall and he was really muscular. My body was going through it this season and I know Karamo was working muscles and things that he never felt before. So beauty is pain, dancing is for real.
You are also really into wellness. What does that mean to you? Especially as a dancer who is practicing and rehearsing all the time?
Jenna Johnson: I think like anyone in their profession, my body is my tool and so I’ve been focusing a lot these past two years on taking care of my body, myself, and my confidence. I think that I’m my healthiest to me and I love it and I’m really passionate about it and I want to help others find that balance and that confidence because it’s changed my life for sure.
What do you do to keep yourself balanced while you’re dancing and also trying to stay the healthiest you?
Jenna Johnson: I think that finding a rhythm or routine is really important for you. I love to go to the gym and I’m not a gym rat where I have to be there for hours on end, but it’s just mostly for me. I love to sweat and I love to mentally get in the right mind space of taking care of my body and making sure that I’m active. I think sleep and self-care is really important. I know that if I do not get enough sleep, I’m going to be a grouch and so that’s really important for me, but I think also just being kind to my body. When I look in the mirror, instead of having immediate negative thoughts, I try to give myself some positive reinforcement of like, “Wow! You put some effort today and you look really pretty.” I think what you tell yourself to your own self is just as important as what other people tell you about yourself.
What is next for you?
Jenna Johnson: So Val and I are going on tour with Dancing With the Stars come January through April. So we’re really excited about that. I’m also really excited because I’ve tapped into this hosting side of me that I’ve always wanted to do, but I haven’t necessarily had enough time to do, so I’m really going to try to tackle that and push myself with a new little venture that I’ve really wanted to do for some time. That’s kind of what’s immediately next for me.
What is married life like with you and Val?
Jenna Johnson: Married life is a dream. I absolutely love it. I think I also scored with a fantastic, loving, caring, selfless husband and he just makes me feel like I’m on top of the world. I love him so much.
What’s it like for you and Val to have to work together and also compete against each other in some instances?
Jenna Johnson: It is crazy that we are married, we live together, and then we also work together. But I think it’s just finding the right balance and we’re not the only ones. But I think that Val and I have found out a balance of making it work, so when we come home there’s no work talk and we like to just be normal people, watch movies, order food, just be normal humans for a second. Once we’re in the right mindset of being in the work mode, then we can go there. But I love it. I love having his help and his advice. I think that he is one of the best dancers in the business, so I respect his opinion and his advice and his critiques for me. I think he’s my little secret weapon, so I love it.
What’s your advice to ballroom dancers who want to potentially end up as pros on the show or want to try and get to that level?
Jenna Johnson: So I do want to say that in the actual ballroom world, Pasha and his wife Daniella, who’s also on the show, are the top of the top dancers, so I was really excited to see him get a pro slot this season. I think that he has done a fabulous job, and I think he’s brought that really authentic ballroom style to the ballroom. I think it’s inspired some of the pros to tap back into those roots that we grew up competing in and training in for so long. I’m really happy for him and how well he’s been doing this season. I think he deserves all the credit. But also I think that for dance, this is the best show to be on and I think that anyone can have this opportunity. It takes a lot of hard work, you have to be ready for criticism and critiques, and you have to have thick skin, but it’s really fabulous to be a part of.
What does it mean to you to be a part of this show?
Jenna Johnson: I grew up being a 12-year-old watching this show. I remember sitting vividly in my living room on the carpet watching the TV when Dancing With the Stars was on and I turned to my mom and said, “I want to be on that show one day.” Thankfully, I had really supportive parents who pushed me and helped me fulfill my dreams and I never thought it would be possible, but somehow I’ve ended up on this incredible show and I met my husband through it. I get to create art every week and I get to meet some really talented celebrities and make lifelong long friendships. I also get to work with some of my best friends ever from home and meet new best friends on the show, so it just feels like a dream. Sometimes I have to pinch myself and remind myself that this is real life. I’m really grateful to Dancing With the Stars for making my dreams come true and for giving me a dream job.