Up Close and Personal with Jenna Johnson

BELLA caught up with Dancing With The Star’s Jenna Johnson to talk about beauty, her blog, and of course DANCING! See what Jenna had to say about her experience on the hit show and more!

What was your most challenging dance routine on ‘Dancing with the Stars’? What was your favorite?

The most difficult routine I had to do on DWTS was on Season 23. It was a Macy’s sponsored Christmas special, which was choreographed by the brilliant Mandy Moore. We were using technology that we had never used before so everything was new. There was one part of the choreography where I had to back roll out of a screen on the same mark over and over again, it had to be perfect. If my pinky was in the wrong position the whole take was ruined and we would had to redo it. In real time it looked as if I was easily rolling out of a make believe virtual world, right into a little girls bedroom was pretty amazing! The stress behind that piece was unreal, but Mandy got nominated for an Emmy this year for it, so I guess it was all worth it.

My favorite number has to be my Suicide Squad Viennese Waltz routine with racer driver James Hinchcliffe. I love to act and acting is a big part of dancing. You have to be able to feel the character in order to have the audience gravitate towards the story you are trying to tell, along with the character and/or emotions of the dance.  Given the role of Harley Quinn was a dream come true for me, it gave me the opportunity to pull out all these different personalities that make Harley Quinn. Another great advantage was having a dance partner who can get into his own character, feed off mine and being able to dance was a huge plus! It my first time getting a perfect score, so it was an even more special night for me.

Tell me your connection with your specialty in Latin Ballroom dancing?

I grew up competitively training in ballet, jazz, hip hop, and contemporary at age 3. I wasn’t introduced to Latin until I was about 10 years old. One day, a beautiful blonde teenager came to our studio and started dancing Latin. Needless to say, I was mesmerized by her! I was so fascinated by her passion and her sensual style she possessed. I then begged my mom to let me take lesson with her! Her name happened to be Julianne Hough. I feel like Latin targets all the main emotions women want to feel, especially passionate woman. You get sassy and spicy in Cha Cha/Samba, romantic and expressive in Rumba, fiery and aggressive in Paso Doble, and upbeat and energetic in Jive. Latin is truly a way for me to express myself and I LOVE IT!!

What advice would you give to other upcoming dancers?

As a dancer you feel pressured to constantly judge yourself and I am definitely my toughest critic. If I could go back and give a younger me some advice, I would tell myself to enjoy the process more and keep reminding myself how much I had accomplished. I think as a society we constantly want more and more and have are eyes set on having the next best thing rather than enjoying what we have.

What have you learned about the industry that most people looking outside in do not know?

One major thing I have learned about the industry is that you can never settle. There are thousands of people looking to be in this industry wanting my exact job. The moment you become complacent and comfortable, that same moment you can become replaceable. The industry has taught me to have work ethic and learned how to hustle. You have to make it happen for yourself!

What are some of the stigmas of being a dancer and how have you overcome them?

I think people automatically assume that as dancers we have insane amounts of confidence. Maybe because on camera we exude that type of energy, but if you were to meet us in real life it would be very different. Unless you know me well, I tend to be very introverted and shy. I have mounds of self confidence issues. Fortunately, I’ve been able to use dance as a way to break out of my shell. It’s always been my safe-place and where I have felt my most confidant and free.

How do you define beauty?

My definition of beauty has definitely change over the years. When I wasn’t sure of myself and who I was, I was convinced that the only way I would be beautiful was if I was a size 0 or if I didn’t have any acne or if I looked perfect at every moment of the day, etc. Let’s be honest, this is not very realistic and ultimately not what truly has made me happy. I can confidently say that I have never been more sure of myself than at this point of my life. That in itself is beauty to me. As a result, I look at my body differently and I take care of it more instead of punishing it for everything its not. To me, loving yourself for who you are and what you have to offer is when one finds happiness. Strong is beautiful to me. Being mentally, physically, and emotionally strong.

What’s the best advice someone has ever given to you?

”Raise your standards and the universe will meet you there” I truly believe that what you put out, you get back in return. Never stop pushing yourself!

Your blog Get Real With Jen what was the process of opening up yourself in a raw sense?

My Blog has literally changed my life. I was so terrified to admit to anyone that I struggled with all sorts of internal battles that I masked it with someone I was not. My sister, Stacy, called me one day and said, “Jen. I think you can be a source for good in this world. I think you need to open up about the changes you’ve made in life and start a blog.” And we literally got on the phone with a website company the next day and started making Get Real With Jen come to life! It’s truly been the most therapeutic thing for me. I was so sick of seeing people make their life look picture perfect on social media when I knew for a fact it is mostly fabricated. I wanted to use my blog for people to reach out to and be relatable, it has done just that! The first post i posted was about my body shift, which received SO much attention. It wasn’t like people were just commenting and saying “Goals”… People saw the real rawness of it and started reaching out to me. I didn’t realize that my honestly could affect and ultimately help lots of people going through similar experiences. It was eye opening that people are yearning for realness…. not fake facades.

As a dancer, music is essential to your lifestyle. What’s on your current playlist?

I love music. I always have to have something playing in the background. Right now my playlist is filled with Bryson Tiller, James Blake, and Roy Woods. I love lyrics. R&B always is my go to when I want to be in my feelings.

Tell us about your experience with “So You Think You Can Dance.”

So You Think You Can Dance is where it all started or me. My mom took me to Memphis, Tennessee so I could try my chances at getting the golden ticket from the judges and I did! That was my very first experience on T.V. and I wanted more and more.

Follow Jenna!

Instagram & Twitter: @dance10jenna



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