The early front-runner got off on the right foot during her first performance with partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, receiving the week’s second-highest judges’ scores and waltzing through the initial elimination, but when we spoke with her on the morning after the first Results Show, her emotions — and her nerves — were still running high.
We'll be checking in with Brandy every week during her bid for the coveted Mirror Ball trophy. This week she spoke to us about bonding with Maks and who she voted for after the last performance (hint: it wasn't herself).
How do you feel? You must have gone through eight zillion emotions in the last forty eight hours?
Oh my God, you have no idea! This is a roller coaster. You really feel excited. You feel nervous, you feel scared, you start to worry. Then you start to feel confident and you have to tell yourself that everything is going to be okay. I've never been through anything like this in my life. This is probably one of the biggest things that I've ever done, and the scariest! I think I'm going to be a different woman after this entire experience.
Were you nervous – even with the positive feedback you got from the judges – about how the fans were going to vote? On Tuesday did you think "I could actually go home today"?
Actually, yeah – I was a nervous wreck. I felt like I was going to have a heart attack, because you just never know. America loves the cast. So many people did a great job Monday and you just don't know because some people can just love you from home and appreciate what you did, but then they may not pick up the phone and vote. At the end of the day it's not about your score. It's really about what America feels about you and if they can relate to you. So I didn't know what was going to happen. Yesterday in rehearsal, just hearing Tom [Bergeron] say, "The biggest surprise elimination of the season…" I was like, '"Oh my God! That could be any of us." You never know. I was so happy when they called my name and Maks' name. I really did not want to go home.
During this first experience dancing live in front of a TV audience, what was the hardest thing to do?
To beat the nerves. During rehearsals I was really nervous because it was my first time camera blocking (being aware of all of the cameras on stage and dancing in front of them) when other people were watching. The other dancers were there. When I'm nervous I don't do my best. So I just wanted to overcome the nerves and really just perform and give it all I had. I was really scared and you look at the beginning and you can tell that I'm just trying to talk myself into it, like, "Calm down. Just please do your thing."
And what part of the experience made you genuinely happy?
That I got through it! And the crowd makes you feel like you're doing a great job because they clap on every line that you hit or for certain special moments. They really embraced me. Knowing that my family was watching me and my daughter was in the audience, that made me feel like everything was going to be okay.
Last week I got the sense that you genuinely just want to do well with this competition and that it's not about a comeback or making the most of a career moment. It's just something you really want to do. Can you talk about why that is?
I just really want to be a good dancer. Just learning things that I've never learned and trying to do well at it and giving it my best and doing it in front of so many people, that does something to you as a person. It does something to your confidence and I just really feel like if I go all the way then I probably will feel like I can do anything. This is, like I said, the scariest, craziest thing I've ever done. I just really want it. I want to prove to myself that with positive thinking and hard work I can accomplish anything. Taking that theory into different aspects of my career is just going to be great for me. I just want my daughter to be proud of me. When she was born she didn't really know what I did because I took time off to be with her. So for her to see me in my zone and in my power, it's like she's so proud and I've never seen the type of glow in her eyes that she has for me now. It's so great. She's really proud of me and that makes me feel good. That makes me feel like a star. I'm tearing up right now thinking about it.
How bonded are you and Maks? Maks is a great teacher and a nice guy, but he has an edgy personality. How is it all meshing for the two of you?
I think we're meshing very well. I think we're both human of course and we go through our little tiffs, our ups and downs but I know Maks' heart and I know where he's coming from. This guy really, really wants to win – and he's a champion already even without the trophy. I know that he wants to bring the best out of me and I want the same thing. He's a fantastic partner. He's a fantastic teacher and I'm just so happy that we're dancing together. It's so funny because he's born on the same day as my brother and I'm born on the same day as his mom. His mom is his favorite person and Ray J is my favorite person in the world, besides my daughter. So there's a little coincidence there.
What's your main goal for next week?
I just want to bring my personality to the ballroom. I just feel like the Jive is going to represent the fun side of my personality. I just want to kill it and give it two hundred percent and really just go out there with confidence and bring the crowd in and just be awesome. It's scary though, because the Jive is so many steps. You've got to remember so much but I'm ready. I cannot wait until next week.
Has your body been taking to it okay – no problems?
I'm very sore. My feet right now are like, "We just need a day of relaxation," but they're going to have to deal with it. I'm going to have to ignore the fact that my feet are killing me right now. It's funny because for three weeks I was able to deal with it with my feet but for some reason, the day of, Monday they really started hurting bad and today they're screaming. But they're going to have just chill out because I have to do what I have to do.
Who else on the show among your contenders really blew you away and surprised you?
I really enjoyed Kyle Massey's performance. I just thought him and his partner (Lacey Schwimmer) were so into each other, so connected and they had a beautiful chemistry. I thought that he was a great performer, and I secretly voted for him. He's amazing and my daughter loves him, too. She already told me the night before, "Mom, I'm just letting you know, I'm going to vote for you and I'm going to vote for Kyle." I told her that night, "Mommy understands why you would vote for Kyle. So I don't mind."