Dancing With the Stars pro Val Chmerkovskiy is incredibly focused on bringing home a trophy for the Dance With Me studio alliance (both brothers Chmerkovskiy, plus Tony Dovolani) on Dancing With the Stars Season 14. In an exclusive interview with Wetpaint Entertainment, Val dishes on the strengths of his celebrity partner Sherri Shepherd, her secret weapon, and what he has planned for tonight.

Wetpaint Entertainment: What will you be dancing tonight (March 26)?
Val Chmerkovskiy: I will be dancing the Jive.

Competition is fierce this year. What are you doing to keep Sherri on her toes?
I’m telling her to tuck in her butt and keep her weight forward. Well, [her “girls”] pretty much keep her on her toes. Everybody has their obstacles and their challenges. I really like all our fellow contestants on the show. I think everybody’s kind of awesome. I’m a big fan of everybody. I know it’s the beginning of the season, but I’m a fan of the show that I’m part of now, because of all those celebrities and all the people that are part of the show. I’m very much focused on Sherri and making a great product, a product that I’ll enjoy, she’ll enjoy, she’ll look back and be proud of. And I think if we do that, the audience and the judges will take us forward. I’m not really focused on any of our competitors.

What has the group been like behind the scenes?
I just feel like this season, everybody’s here because they want to be. That pretty much builds respectful relationships between [a] celebrity and dancer. We have a lot of big names on the show, but all of them are humble and modest enough to want to learn and they’re all very respectful to their pro dancers. Because of that, you’re getting a high quality of performance. Great attitudes and great relationships all around. We’re all kind of pulling for one another. And it is the first episode so let’s see how long this camaraderie lasts. Everybody’s quite positive. 

I’m very much focused on Sherri, and she makes me so happy and I’m very blessed to have a partner who trusts me, believes in me, wants to learn from me, wants to listen to me, and believes that I only have the best intentions for her. That makes my life a lot easier because I’m not out there just dancing or trying to prove anything to her. We’re just working together for the common goal.

Credit: Adam Taylor/ ABC Photo: Val Chmerkovskiy and Sherri Shepherd on the Dancing With the Stars Season 14 Premiere

What are Sherri’s strengths?
Her secret weapon is her personality. She has a natural presence and she draws people to her. She has a beautiful smile. The smile is a reflection of her, of her soul, and her being a genuine personality and I think that’s her strength.

How have you been working around Sherri’s demanding schedule?
That’s been tough. Fortunately for me, and then at the same time unfortunately for me and us, Sherri’s the kind of person who whatever she commits herself to she does full strength and wholeheartedly, she does full-out. That’s why her and I get along, because we have the same type of personality, when I come to something I want to give my all. She commits herself to a lot of projects because of that she really exhausts herself. But she doesn’t look at her dance training as a burden. She feels very blessed to be part of the show, she’s a big fan of the show. She loves everything about it, she loves the work that goes into it.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of our interview with Val!

Catch the next new episode of DWTS on Monday, March 26 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays and Tuesdays on ABC.

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