Social media star Olivia Jade had a lot to be nervous about when she stepped onto the Dancing with the Stars ballroom floor last Monday night for her first dance with partner Val Chmerkovskiy. There were a lot of people on social media that didn’t think she deserved a chance to try to redeem herself from her part in the College Admissions Scandal, for which her parents Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli went to jail.
But when she began her salsa, Olivia was more nervous about getting the dance right than what people were saying about her.
“I was most nervous being in a completely different element doing something I’ve never experienced,” she said. “I think it went well and I’m just looking forward to learning more.”
The 21-year-old influencer received 25 points out of a possible 40 – now that there are four judges, Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Derek Hough, the total possible is higher – which found her tied for sixth place.
It is not a bad position to be in, but she will still need to get fan support to avoid being the first person to go home.
“I’m just letting the universe take over,” she told Monsters & Critics. “I’m going to work my hardest. There are so many incredible people in the cast. There are so many dancers, a lot of athletes. I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had to perform, let alone just use my body this much and exert this much physical energy. So, it’s definitely been a challenge, but, honestly, I don’t think I’m that bad, so, hopefully, I won’t go home first.”
Olivia did have some moral support. Her sister Bella was in the audience rooting her on.
“It was great having my sister in the crowd,” she said. “She’s my best friend in the world, so her support is everything and it brings a level of comfort knowing my older sister is there watching me. The best advice she gave me was to just breathe. Take a deep breath when you’re nervous. I was probably holding my breath a lot and not releasing.”
Here is more of the conversation with Olivia Jade, which took place over Zoom.
Oliva Jade: It was definitely a debate in my mind for sure. Obviously, in any situation, it’s scary to be vulnerable and show a personal side to yourself because they really do see all the behind-the-scenes. But I’m honestly just so grateful for this opportunity and I’m really excited and stoked.
M&C: Why was now the right time for you to do the show?
Oliva Jade: Honestly, I don’t think there’s a better time than the 30th season. I think it’s such an incredible opportunity and I’m ready to put myself back out there and try new things. I think I’m really excited to challenge myself and put myself outside of my comfort zone, which I don’t do often, so it kind of just all happened, and I’m just letting the universe take over and see what happens. I’m just living it day by day.
M&C: What was the most difficult challenge for week one and how has Val supported you?
Oliva Jade: The most difficult challenge, maybe not particularly this week, but in the last few weeks of training, if I’m being technical, there’s certain little things like keeping my back strong and my arm attached to a certain part, and just things I’ve never heard, and things that feel very unnatural. But Val was very patient with me.
I always say when we’re training, “What if I were in your position?” I would be so fed up with you because it takes me such a long time to finally process what he’s saying and what he’s instructing me to do. But he’s super patient and we get along really well. I think we have a similar vibe, so it’s been a pleasure.
Also, a challenging aspect so far, honestly, has been dancing in heels. I can barely walk in high heels, so spinning and dipping and all that stuff can be definitely hard on my body. But I’m having so much fun and every day it’s a little bit easier, which is a positive.
M&C: By doing DWTS, what do you want fans to learn about the real you? What do you hope to get out of this journey?
Oliva Jade: I hope people just see that I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity, and I’m just so honored to be a part of this cast. Everybody’s so amazing. Obviously, I hope to take away some good dance skills because I’m not a dancer and just to grow as an individual throughout this process.
M&C: We know this experience is going to be physically challenging and demanding, but what mental and emotional challenges are you anticipating?
Oliva Jade: I think I’m probably the most nervous just to actually learn the dances and try and figure it out. It can be frustrating when you don’t get a step and you want to figure it out so badly and there’s so much to it.
M&C: What was it like meeting Val for the first time?
Oliva Jade: It was awesome. My partner is beyond incredible. I’m so excited and he’s extremely patient with me. He’s so effortless with the way he dances and he’s just super talented. I can’t say enough good things, so it was great. It was a blast and we vibe really well. He’s very easy to get along with, so no complaints.
M&C: There are a lot of packages in which stars open up emotionally, what are you hoping audiences learn about you?
Oliva Jade: Like I said previously, I hope people just really genuinely know how excited and grateful I am for this opportunity. I think about a few years ago and knowing that this was very farfetched and not really in the cards, so I’m super, super thankful for a second chance to be out there and putting myself out there, and just growing.
M&C: How have your family and friends been supporting you through this process?
Oliva Jade: All my friends are super excited and my mom’s been a huge support. She’s in total mom mode, making sure I’m taking an Epson salt bath and she’s trying to get me to take an ice bath. I’m like, “I don’t need an ice bath yet.” My sister has been telling me she wants to come to every single show, that I have to reserve a ticket for every time. But yeah, everybody’s been really supportive and I’m super grateful.
M&C: DWTS gives people a platform to be very vulnerable, especially with contemporary routines. What’s a story (or a side of yourself) you hope to tell through dance?
Oliva Jade: I definitely think this process can get very emotional. I’m, obviously, still in the very beginning, so I haven’t experienced that side of things yet, but I have heard from previous contestants that it’s really hard on your body and you have to be patient with yourself, especially if you’ve never had experience dancing before. But I’m just excited to learn and to grow and every day, just hopefully, to improve a little bit more.
I just hope people see a more vulnerable side, a real side. I think it does get really personal. I don’t have a specific story set in mind, but I’m sure you’ll see a bunch of different sides to me, and I guess I’ll just have to keep you waiting for that.
Dancing with the Stars airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET/7c on ABC.