Melora Hardin and Artem Chigvintsev are at the top of the Dancing With the Stars leaderboard after Disney Week. The pair earned the first 10 of the season from Len Goodman after their stellar jazz routine. Melora and Artem have been consistent every week, and they are in it for the “long haul.”
Ahead of Grease Week, HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Melora about her “shocked” reaction to getting the first 10. She also opened up about working alongside DWTS pro Artem and the “great communication” they have, possibly singing for another performance, and more. Read our Q&A below:
What was going through your head when you got the first 10 of the season?
Melora Hardin: I was just shocked. I was shocked and thrilled and that it came from Len [Goodman] was like, I was just really blown away. I was very excited. As you can see by the expression on my face reacting to it, I was like, “Oh my god.” I look like a 5-year-old.
Artem is an amazing partner and choreographer. What has it been like forging that really strong relationship and collaborative vibe with him?
Melora Hardin: It’s like an arranged marriage. It’s like someone knew that we would work really well together. It turns out we really do. We really have great communication because we really have so little time. We have a similar work ethic, and we both work our asses off. We don’t even sit down in our rehearsals. We are just really, really focused. We’ve also just been very communicative about this works well for me and this doesn’t work well for me. He’s very receptive to feedback, and I think I am too. It’s been a really beautiful collaboration, and I think we’re really ultimately building a friendship which is also really, really nice.
You opened up about the intensity of the competition earlier in the season. How are you feeling about the show and your progress now?
Melora Hardin: I’m in it. I’m in it for the long haul. I’m in it to win it and what I mean by winning is winning for myself. I want to be giving it my all every week, and I think that it requires stamina to do that. Luckily, I’m not a spring chicken and I’ve built stamina, but it doesn’t just require physical stamina, which it definitely does. But it really requires emotional stamina and intellectual stamina, and the ability to kind of navigate all of the things that it brings up because those things that it brings up are real and they affect your daily experience, they affect your sleep, they affect your ability to concentrate, your ability to perform. I’ve spent so much time working on myself, getting conscious, and I have worked hard to transform. I’m always still transforming those things within myself that are kind of my own personal challenges. Those things are being included in this experience. They’re being included in every dance I do, in every rehearsal I have, in every relationship I start or grow, and I think that in that regard I’m lucky because I have tools in my tool belt that are really, really different than just being able to point your toe. I think that’s been beneficial for me so far in the process, and it makes it so that I can really enjoy the moment and enjoy the process because there’s nothing we can count on. We can’t count on any scores. We can’t count on staying in the game. We can’t count on staying in the competition. We can count on the process. That’s what we can count on. We can count on every minute of every day of what we have, as long as we have it. That’s what I’m just staying focused on, and that’s part of what’s keeping me in it.
How are you feeling about Grease Week?
Melora Hardin: I’m excited about this dance. I don’t know, maybe it was like a past life or something, but it’s the Viennese waltz, and it just feels so good. I feel so happy dancing, so I’m kind of like in a little bit of heaven with this one. It’s another great dance that Artem has pulled out of his head again. He’s just an incredible, incredible choreographer, and I’m so grateful for the incredible work he does for us to make it make us look good. It’s a beautiful dance. I just love it.
I’m always so impressed with the choreography. All of the pros are so amazing.
Melora Hardin: They are so amazing. They’re just so talented. I don’t know if people realize how hard the pros work. I mean, they’re not just dancing on the ballroom floor and dealing with all the emotions and all the stuff that comes up for all the contestants because they’re being thrown to the fire every single day trying something new that they’ve never done before. But they’re choreographing, and they have creative meetings with all of the creative teams. They have to also sometimes dance on the show when they do openers or something. It’s a really intense job for these people. They’re teachers, they’re creatives. They’re doing like four jobs in one.
Everyone has said so far that this might be the most competitive season yet. How does it feel to be surrounded by such talented people?
Melora Hardin: I love it. I love being around people that are as good if not better than me. I think it makes you better. It makes you better when you’re surrounded by people that are really good. And that’s how I see it. I keep stretching and growing and learning and that’s the way I like it.
I loved that you got to sing “Mother Knows Best.” Will we hear you sing something else this season?
Melora Hardin: I guess we’ll wait and see how it all pans out. Maybe there will be something that’ll pop up and it’ll feel really right, but that one was just so right. They loved the idea and Disney has to clear everything and they liked it. That was very exciting for me. I would love to if there was something else, but I certainly enjoyed singing and then dancing to myself singing. That felt like I was really embodying the character. All I needed next was some lines.
I was a big fan of The Bold Type. Have you heard from the girls since you started DWTS? I’ve seen Katie Stevens comment on your Instagram.
Katie is so cute. I think she’s coming to the show soon. I don’t know if it’s this Monday or next Monday, but she’s coming. I think she’s going to bring Meghann [Fahy] and Aisha [Dee] if they’re in town. I don’t know if they are. They’re all so supportive. It’s great.