It's Time for 'Dancing with the Stars' to Hire Black & Brown Pro Dancers
Updated: Aug 18, 2020
There is no excuse anymore. Let's be honest. Many Dancing with the Stars viewers have called for more diversity in the pro ranks for years. With the Black Lives Matter movement shining a glaring spotlight on where society has failed for decades, it's time for DWTS to step up and hire a Black female pro.
The show has been picked up for its 29th season at a time when life has been turned upside down for many of us — COVID-19, job losses and a movement that is opening our eyes to systemic racism. ABC has cast its first Black Bachelor star, Matt James, after the first Black Bachelorette star, Rachel Lindsay, had to call out the network and executive producer Mike Fleiss for their obvious biases when it came to the franchise.
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Any longtime fan of DWTS knows that Keo Motsepe, the show's first Black male pro, hasn't always been treated fairly. From getting more challenging contestants (think Lolo Jones in Season 19) to not having a partner in Season 28 after a stellar Season 27 with Evanna Lynch doesn't sit well with me... and it shouldn't sit well with you either.
For years, we have accepted that a pro doesn't always get a celebrity due to height. That notion was completely blown out of the water once Linsday Arnold was paired up with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Season 26. We've also been told that personality pairings are important — which might be the case with teaching older or under-18 contestants who need the right pro — but it can't be the only factor.
Yes, the show has two Black male pros — Keo and Brandon Armstrong, but that isn't enough. There are so many incredible Black and Brown ballroom dancers who deserve a spot on the show. It's also about inspiring the next generation of dancers who can finally see themselves represented on the show.
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On Friday morning when I posted my tweet, replies rang out immediately with Britt Stewart's name. As one of the busiest dancers in the commercial dance industry, she would be a natural fit for the show after five seasons in troupe. Britt even mentioned that being a pro was one of her career goals. After auditioning for a pro spot in Season 28, she was disappointed that dream didn't come true. However, it's a door she hasn't completely closed.
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"I think I would be open to it, I do," she said in a February 2020 interview on To The Pointe. "I think if I came back around, I would be open to it."
Hiring a Black female pro for Season 29 would be a big step for DWTS... as would hiring a few Latinx pros as well. With The Bachelor franchise making a long-overdue move in casting, it's time DWTS stepped up, too.
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