DWTS pro Witney Carson has revealed the highs and lows of her tenure. Plus, which stars did she name the worst dancers of the series' entire run?
Witney Carson of Dancing With The Stars has never hesitated to be brutally honest about the show's long history. Witney first appeared on the series in 2014 and competed from seasons 18-28. The Utah native took last season off after becoming pregnant. She gave birth to her son, Leo, in January.
While promoting her Witney Carson x JuJuBe bags collection, the conversation inevitably turned to DWTS. She was asked questions about the best and worst of the long-running ABC competition series. Like fellow pro Keo Mostepe before her, this meant calling out the celeb contestants with two left feet. The Emmy nominee didn't hold anything back.
Speaking to Us Weekly, Witney had not one, but two choices for the all-time worst celebrity contestants. “That’s a toss-up honestly between Kim Kardashian and Master P. I remember watching that sitting at home just being like, ‘Oh, my goodness.'” Both were on before she even joined the show. They must've been extra rough to stick in her memory so long! But she didn't just dish on the bad. The 27-year-old also revealed her favorite dance partner, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star Alfonso Riberio, with whom she won the season 19 mirrorball trophy. “He had a personality- people just absolutely adored him. He was a great dancer in ballroom and Latin and hip-hop, so he was a well-rounded celebrity and he’s always around." The pro added, “He’s so great and he’s so relatable, so I think everybody just gravitates to him so much. He’s like our big brother, he just has so much advice.”
Witney also spoke about her favorite moment from her time on the show, which happened with Alfonso. That would be the unforgettable Carlton dance, one of the all-time best DWTS routines. “I have never felt that experience and that feeling in my entire life, like that was absolutely insane. Like when we started the Carlton, people just lost their minds....they were like screaming and I’ve just never felt that in the audience ever. So that was an experience for me that I’ll just never forget.”
Finally, the dancer revealed Malcolm In The Middle star Frankie Muniz started off as terrible, but ultimately surprised her most. “I remember the first day of rehearsal. I was like, ‘Dude, let’s do just a little bit of freestyle.’ And I literally had to look away. It was so bad." Revealing they've kept in touch, she added, “Frankie and I talk about it still to this day...But we made it all the way to the finale and people really loved him. He was an incredibly hard worker and he just wanted to be the best that he could be.”
Dancing With The Stars has already been renewed for its 30th season. Witney also told Us that, after taking last season off, she hopes to return to the ballroom. Friend and fellow pro Lindsay Arnold, who also took season 29 off to give birth, plans to come back as well.
Stefanik’s rise is linked to her commitment to bringing more Republican women to Congress, an effort that helped make the House GOP’s 2021 first-term class one of the most diverse in history. But those close to Stefanik suggest there is one moment above all that solidified her political transformation and rise in Republican politics — and that moment had little to do with diversity.
It was a Thursday night in November 2019, and Trump’s first impeachment inquiry was raging on Capitol Hill. Stefanik had emerged as a leading Trump defender in committee hearings, but on that night, she brought her message to Fox News’ Sean Hannity for the first time.
After attacking the Democrats’ case for impeachment, she asked Fox viewers to send money to a website designed to protect her from a growing wave of political attacks.
Within 15 minutes, she had raised $250,000, aides later tweeted. Several hundred thousand more flowed into her campaign by the next morning. Her team had never seen anything like it, according to people with direct knowledge of her operation who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose private discussions.
The snowball grew the next day when Trump went on “Fox and Friends” and praised Stefanik. It grew still more weeks later when Trump singled her out during a White House event as he crowed about beating impeachment.
In total, Stefanik raised more than $13 million over that cycle, almost twice as much as the combined fundraising totals from her previous three elections. She raised an additional $2 million for Republican candidates and assembled what her office now describes as one of the five strongest donor email lists among 212 House Republicans.
She never wavered in supporting Trump again.
Even as staff privately encouraged her to moderate her message in the following weeks, Stefanik leaned harder into Trumpism. Her team began regularly insulting critics and reporters on social media. Her transformation was complete when Stefanik, a former White House aide under President George W. Bush and admirer of former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., voted against certifying the 2020 election results even after a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Stefanik’s evolution is the story of the modern Republican Party, which has come to believe that the path to power and fundraising success runs through Trump, whether party members like him or not. A few Republicans have resisted his influence, including Cheney, but the vast majority has fallen in line even as Trump continues to spread the same disinformation about the 2020 election that inspired the Jan. 6 insurrection.
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Trump “has been our strongest supporter of any president when it comes to standing up for the Constitution,” Stefanik said this past week on former Trump aide Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast.
In the same interview, she again cast doubt about the integrity of the 2020 election, even though allegations about widespread voter fraud have been discredited by senior Trump administration officials and dozens of judges across the country.
Those who have worked closely with Stefanik describe her as a hardworking, smart and disciplined messenger, tenacious in her pursuit of energizing Republican voters and framing the terms of the debate.
She became a policy aide in the Bush White House after graduating from Harvard University in 2006. By the time the 2012 presidential election arrived, she was a well-regarded political operative with strong ties to the Republican establishment. She joined former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s short-lived presidential campaign before going to work for Mitt Romney, the party’s presidential nominee against the Democratic incumbent, Barack Obama.
After the election, Stefanik moved from Washington to her parents’ home in upstate New York with an eye on the U.S. House seat left open by Democrat Bill Owens’ retirement. In what was widely considered a swing district, the 30-year-old Stefanik won the race and became the youngest woman, at that time, ever elected to Congress.
She found success with a moderate message focused on bringing a new generation of voters to the Republican Party.
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