Monday, December 3, 2012
Q-and-A: Former Cowboys cheerleader Melissa Rycroft talks Dancing With the Stars: All Stars win
Rycroft is glad to be home in DFW following her dark-horse win against Olympic gymnast and fan-favorite, Shawn Johnson.
SOUTHLAKE Tuesday night, America watched as 2001 Newman Smith graduate Melissa Rycroft and her dancing partner, Tony Dovolani, were showered with confetti and handed the coveted mirror ball trophy on ABC's Dancing with the Stars: All Stars.
Now, back in her Southlake home, Rycroft talked with neighborsgo about her Dancing with the Stars experience and how she feels to be back with her family in the Big D.
Q: Some have noted the genuinely surprised look on your face when the Dancing with the Stars: All Stars winner was announced. Were you shocked that you won?
Rycroft: You never want to underestimate yourself or put anyone down, but in that moment, to be honest, I thought it would be Shawn and Derek. I had heard everything that everyone else was hearing in the media of how they were fan favorites and expected to win. Let’s be honest: Shawn’s a powerhouse, and she had a phenomenal season. It took every ounce of everything in me week after week just to try to keep up. In that moment, when it was the two of us, I was looking at Tony and I went "I’m already happy. We’ve already done better than we did in Season 8." Tony had never been in the Top 2, period, so for both of us it was already an accomplishment. And I honestly was expecting for Tom to say Shawn and Derek were the winners. That’s why I think when they actually said it was us, we both had to take a minute and think “Is this really happening? Did this really just happen?”
It’s been a couple of days since your win; are you still in shock?
I think it’s starting to sink in. I am still in disbelief over it, until I look over and I see the trophy or I hear another friend reaching out to give congratulations. It was so unbelievable and unexpected that I think it’s taking longer to sink in than I thought it would.
In Season 8, you were edged out of the top spot by Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson. How does it feel to come back in Season 15 and beat her?
As much as everybody would love it, there was no competition between Shawn and I. Shawn and I were actually very good friends this time around. We pushed each other; we picked each other back up. I’ll be honest I was happy to make it to the finals. The three woman that made it, to me — we were all winners walking in on Monday night to have accomplished what we did. To come out on top is an unbelievable feeling. Like I said, it still hasn’t sunk in, and I don’t look at it as "You beat an individual person" or "There was one group we were after." It’s just it was amazing to be standing at the end of the competition as talented as this one was.
Is there a competitive atmosphere between the contestants on and off stage?
I think this season, more than any other season I’ve seen in the past, everybody was genuinely friends with each other. You were rooting for technically your competitors. That doesn’t mean you didn’t want to win or you weren’t competitive yourself, but you certainly weren’t rooting for other peoples’ failures ... I actually, for the first time yesterday, was watching the finale footage when they announced us, and I was looking at everyone’s reactions and I was like, “That cast is genuinely happy.” To me, that’s how a show like this should be. It shouldn't be fight to the death.
Is there something you did differently this time that you feel helped you claim the title?
I think our attitude this time around (helped). Tony and I, this time in the competition, were so much more relaxed than we were Season 8. I think that’s because (during) Season 8, we felt the pressure. Season 8, there was a lot of hype behind it, and there were a lot of expectations behind it. Because of that, you put pressure on yourself of what you feel people expect you to do. This time around, we didn’t really feel expectations. We weren’t front runners right off the bat, and we were having to go in and fight and dig just to stay in the competition at the early stages of it. Because of that, we were like "This isn’t our trophy to lose; it’s our trophy to win at this point." You go out with that mentality, and you don’t have any fear on the dance floor because there is nothing to prove. When you don’t feel that people expect you to be the front runner, it’s actually easier to go out and dance your hardest, and then you're surprising people. I think that mentality that we had really helped us, especially the last couple of weeks of the competition when we started gaining momentum.
This was your second time on the show; why did you decide to compete again?
It took me a little bit to make the decision, because Season 8 for me was such a highlight. It was perfect — the stars aligned, and I knew at the time I was coming off of all The Bachelor hoopla, and so in my mind that was kind of what propelled me to the finals ... I was hesitant coming in to the all-star season because I didn’t have that anymore. [I asked myself], what if I don’t have the audience behind me now, now that I don’t have the drama and this experience that was so magical just ends on a dead note? Ultimately, I went, "This was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and if you have the opportunity to do something like that again, why wouldn’t you?" So I just said let’s do it.
Do you think your dance background helped you at all?
I wish dance experience helped you on the show ... you’ve got the athletes that are trained to perfect themselves ... you’ve got the actors who can emotionally get into character, and then you have the musicians who can hear music in ways that other people can’t hear it. Sometimes in the competition, that can actually hurt you. You can overdo it, your body may not react the way it should, and that’s what I experienced ... from dancing with the [Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders] ... everything that I had known from that was wrong in ballroom, and it hindered that. Tony actually had to erase what I knew because I wasn’t coming in as a blank slate.
What does your daughter think about you dancing on television?
It was a cool experience for her. I’m glad she got to sit in the audience as much as she did. It was something that is obviously well-documented for her, so when she’s old enough to understand, we will share it ... it’s just really cool to not be doing this as a single person like I was Season 8. I got to share this with my family, my husband and my daughter, and that in itself makes it so much more special.
How would you describe your Dancing with the Stars experience?
It’s just magical. You push yourself harder than you ever thought you would before. This time around was much harder for me than Season 8, and that was because I was juggling so much more in my personal life. I had mommyhood to balance and being a wife to balance with all of that. It’s amazing how you don’t realize how competitive you are until you get in a situation like that. It’s not competitive with other people, it’s with you ... it’s really kind of incredible how it makes you push yourself and as much as we all wanted a break — and believe me, I am loving my downtime now — I know in probably about a week or two, I’m going to be missing that rush.
Do you see yourself competing or appearing on any other reality shows in the future? What’s next for you?
You never say never. You take opportunities as they are given to you. I’ve been known to do a lot of reality, but I’ve done a lot of other stuff too. I get to co-host and correspond on ET and GMA and worked with Dick Clark on New Year’s Eve, so there’s a bunch of stuff that I love to do ... and we’ll see. You take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, and so you never say never to any opportunities.
How does it feel to be back at home?
It feels good. It’s been three months since I’ve been back in my house, and this is my first day back. It’s just nice to have some normalcy again. I’m looking forward to spending the holidays back in Dallas where I belong.
What is your favorite thing growing up in Carrollton?
I just loved growing up in the Dallas area. You’re 30 minutes away from anything that you need. It’s suburban and family-oriented. That’s why it’s the place that we’ve chosen to raise our family.
What is something that not many people know about you?
At this point, I think everybody knows everything about me. That’s what I feel like.