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Carrie Ann Inaba, best known for her role as one of the judges on the popular show, Dancing with the Stars, talks with TheCelebrityCafe.com about the show that made her a household name and the latest project she is working on as an animal activist.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: When you first signed on as a judge for DWTS did you ever think it would turn out to be such a huge success?
Carrie Ann Inaba: What I’ve learned over the years of being on television is that you never know what’s going to be successful. You can only hope for the best.
Prior to this show, I was a choreographer on American Idol and then for So You Think You Can Dance. When I was given an opportunity to either be a judge on DWTS or So You Think You Can Dance it was a really tough decision for me. But there was something about DWTS that was interesting to me. The world of ballroom dancing is so glamorous and seeing celebrities get out there and do something different is inspiring and intriguing.
So You Think You Can Dance is a world of dance that I come from, which is commercial dance, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Ballet, and all that stuff. So ballroom dance was a little scary and different for me. But I trusted my instinct and went with DWTS. I’m very happy I made that choice because it has turned out to be such amazing show.
TCC: Now Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, and you have been judges on the show since it first aired in 2005. Do you guys ever get on each other nerves? Or are you more like family?
Carrie Ann: We’re more like family. So yes, we do get on each others nerves! (Laughs) Sometimes on the show we argue with each other about our opinions, but that’s the point of being on a judging panel. But it’s all in a place of love and respect. We never really fight. In fact, before every show, Bruno, Len and I hold hands and give each other kisses and say, ‘We love one another,’ so that during the show our dialogue is free and open, knowing that it’s not personal.
TCC: Are there any contestants in this season of DWTS that you feel are doing surprising well so far?
Carrie Ann: I would have to say I am very surprised with Katherine Jenkins, William Levy, and Jaleel White. But the overall quality of dancing from all the contestants has been really good. Season 14 has been one of my personal favorites.
TCC: Do you believe the ‘DWTS Injury Curse’ is real or just something over-hyped by the media?
Carrie Ann: It’s something over-hyped by the media. Injury is part of dancing. It’s not a curse. It’s like with a football player. They always get injured - that doesn’t mean that the football field is cursed. In the same case with DWTS, we are all athletes. The dancers are athletes. The celebrity contestants become athletes when they join the show and undergo intense training. And with that training there is a great risk of injury.
TCC: In your career you have done both singing and dancing. Do you think professional dancing is a much tougher business to get into than show business? Are they equally difficult?
Carrie Ann: I think they are equally difficult. The physical intensity of dancing is incredible. But for singing, that’s difficult too because you are the star of the show.
Speaking for myself, I had a hard time being the star. I was 18 years old and just come from Hawaii and was pursing a singing career in Japan. It was scary for me. I wasn’t used to the criticism. People say things about your performance, the way you look, and the way you dress. I didn’t care much for that. So I stuck with dancing. Although having a singing career was tough for me I still love to sing.
TCC: It’s been reported that In Living Color will returning to television this year. Would you ever make an appearance on the show?
Carrie Ann: Of course. Any way I could be a part of the In Living Color reunion would be fantastic. Just last week, TV Land Awards honored the cast of In Living Color for being a groundbreaking TV show. All the cast members were reunited. It was great seeing the Wayans, Jim Carrey, Tommy Davidson, David Alan Grier, and some of the former Fly Girls. It was really nice. I believe the award show will air this Sunday (April 29) [on TV Land].
TCC: Recently music, fashion, and dance moves from the 90s are becoming popular again. Is there a particular 90s dance move that you would like to see make a comeback?
Carrie Ann: No! (Laughs) I know they brought back the Running Man and turned into the Jerk, which is like a reverse Running Man. But let’s just leave the 90s alone. Let’s not bring any of those dance moves back. The only exception is at weddings.
TCC: What do you think is the best and worst dance move ever created?
Carrie Ann: The best dance move is Break Dancing. I find it so exciting because there is an element of danger to it. It looks so natural yet takes incredible athleticism and grace to be able to pull off some of those moves. I also love House Dancing. It incorporates a little bit of B-boy moves as well as this free flowing kind of skip step.
Now the worst dance move is…I probably shouldn’t say this because I made a living off of it when I was a Fly Girl. It would have to be the Running Man. Though it is iconic it’s maybe the worst dance move.
TCC: Now this is something I’m curious about so I have to ask. Who do you think is a better dancer, you or former Fly Girl, Jennifer Lopez?
Carrie Ann: We both have different styles, that’s for sure. She came from a more street background and I came from a more trained background. She has continued to dance and I haven’t been able to because of my condition. I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis about two years ago. It comes from severe whiplash and that comes from dancing. It’s a dance injury that I wear with pride. So, due to the circumstances, I would say Jennifer Lopez is a better dancer than me right now.
TCC: Tell me about your animal rescue show.
Carrie Ann: I started producing a show called Crib Cat. It’s a web series that’s cute and entertaining. I do the voice of Kit, a sassy cat that hosts the series and plays matchmaker for the shelter cats that want to get adopted. Kit’s goal is to get cats across America a permanent home, or crib as we call it. We are on our ninth episode and we have twelve more episodes coming up. I’m trying to give these animals exposure so people can find them and hopefully these cats will be placed in a forever home. We’ve had success with one already.
I love all animals. But I have more of a connection to cats. After the loss of my cat, Shadow, last October I really felt the need to get involved and give back more. I work with a lot of rescues in helping get animals out of kill shelters and raise money for them. It’s a big calling and an exciting time in my life. It’s really important to get the word out about these shelter animals that need to get adopted.
Check out the web episodes of Crib Cat at Petsami.com.
Also, watch the remaining contestants battle it out on the dance floor to Classical Week on Dancing with the Stars which airs Monday on ABC.
Photo Courtesy of Felix Mack