Today we bring you Part 2 of the interview, in which Jaleel details the intense, grueling rehearsal schedule each week on DWTS, discusses his new reality show Total Blackout on SyFy (which premieres on Wednesday, April 25 at 10 p.m. ET/PT), and breaks down his biggest competition.
Wetpaint Entertainment: What is your typical DWTS rehearsal week like? Jaleel White: Typically right now [Tuesday], I haven’t even started a dance for next week yet. I would presumably start that [on Wednesday]. When that clicks, that could click on a Friday morning, or Friday night, or even on a Saturday morning. Or, as a couple of weeks ago, as late as a Saturday night. You start learning the dance in segments. So originally there were about four parts, now there’s probably about five parts. And you learn it without music. You’re just trying to get the steps and be able to get them, get the exchanges fluid. That was actually one of the compliments that Len [Goodman] gave me, that I appreciated, when he talked about my Foxtrot, he was like, “Your transitions are very fluid. They weren’t choppy.” And we had like two weeks to get ready for the Foxtrot. And I believe in repetition, repetition, repetition. So you start learning in segments.
Then hopefully by Thursday, you can start doing it to some music. But you’re still not going to get through a whole dance. Maybe you’ll get through a segment with music. And then if you’re lucky, by Thursday night or by Friday, you can actually get through the whole dance to music. At this point the dance looks like shit, but you’re getting through it [laughs]. And then it’s time to clean up a lot of the things that [Kym]’s been probably barking at [me] about all week. “Your toe, your arm, your this your that, boom boom boom!” You’re not a professional, you’re learning in such a short period of time. When it’s show night, you just pick a couple of things and focus on that, and make sure that that’s really good. And that’s really the hectic process of the show.
Do you think you’ll go shirtless again? Who knows? Any time Kym feels desperate about our chances and wants to keep us out of Dance Duel, I have a feeling she’s gonna rip my shirt off. I’m rolling with it and just making sure I do my push-ups at night.
Who do you consider your biggest competition? I still think the biggest competition right now is myself, because there are things that I know I can improve. Eyeing the competition, I mean, obviously I think Katherine [Jenkins] and Donald [Driver] are doing amazing. The night before, I was like, I don’t want to talk too much about the scores, I’ll just see if they work themselves out, because I think they’re neck and neck, and they’re not.
Tell us about your new SyFy show, Total Blackout. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. It’s basically about people confronting their worst fears in pitch-black dark for cash prizes and time challenges. Whoever comes in with the worst time, obviously they get eliminated. We have a hilarious elimination process. The outfits that they wear are just ridiculous. These people go into a dark room that [they] have no spatial awareness of beforehand, and touch and identity things and complete challenges. I call this show a bowl of peanuts because, a bowl of peanuts, you just kind of sit there and you eat four handfuls, and you don’t really know why you’re eating them. [On Total Blackout] you know you’re basically going to see different versions of the same reaction.
Is it based on the contestants’ real fears? All of the contestants have been psychologically profiled so we know certain things that they’re most afraid of, so when they encounter those things, you never know. It could be early, it could be late. For example, one of our games, let’s say Four Tanks, where you have to identify the object in four tanks in the shortest amount of time. In the first tank it might legitimately be tarantulas, in the second tank it might be a woman’s bra. In the third tank it might be a pineapple, and in the fourth tank it might be a spider. So moving down that line, they don’t know that it’s like, look, just get through it. You might have a person be deathly afraid of snakes and by the time they breeze through the first three, they feel like this one is a snake, and it paralyzes their chances.
How will you manage your time between DWTS and Total Blackout? I’m taking DWTS one week at a time. I don’t even know if I’m in Dance Duel tonight [Tuesday, April 17]. I don’t feel like I did a dance [on Monday night] that would warrant that I would be in the bottom two. At the same time I have to respect the unpredictability of the show and be prepared to be in the bottom two. With that said, schedules can always be juggled. Sometimes I go to voiceovers for three hours, then I go dance for six. That’s what I call a champagne problem.
Total Blackout premieres Wednesday, April 25 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SyFy.
Watch the next new episode of DWTS on Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
Molly Friedman is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @MollyFriedman.