Dancing with the Stars returns in less than two weeks, and ABC announced who will be competing for the Mirror Ball Trophy. Who are the ringers and who is fodder for ill-advised sambas and rumbas?
Billy Dee Williams
Claim to fame: Actor, Malt Liquor Enthusiast
Brings to the Ballroom: Now that Disney owns the Star Wars franchise, the man who played Lando Calrissian is the first to appear on the show.1 However, as one of the oldest competitors in the field and not exactly someone who resonates with the DWTS demo, the only thing that will get him past week one would be a secret Arthur Murray past.
Candace Cameron Bure
Claim to fame: Played D.J. Tanner on Full House
Brings to the Ballroom: A resurgence of Full House in pop culture2 seems to be behind this decision. Aside from possible occasional visits from John Stamos, Candace will need to show some skills from the get-go if she wants to last more than a week or two.
Claim to fame: Comedian, current host of The Price is Right
Brings to the Ballroom: I imagine there is a fair amount of audience crossover between his show and DWTS. Drew’s improv background from Whose Line is it Anyway? has a chance of creating either entertaining or grating rehearsal footage. I probably have him ranked too low, but he seems like someone who could get hurt in scoring due to some unlucky dance style assignments early on.
Claim to fame: Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years, also MATH
Brings to the Ballroom: The throwback votes that Candace would have gotten on a different season of the show will likely go to Danica. After Wonder Years left the air, she went on to pursue a PhD in Mathematics and has carried the torch for getting young women involved in the sciences. So…feminism? I’m not sure how much of an asset that will be on this show, but I’ll be #TeamDanica until she gets a surprise early boot.
Claim to fame: At age 63, became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage
Brings to the ballroom: I mean, she must be in halfway decent shape, so the rigor of the competition shouldn’t be too much for her to handle. She will be the oldest woman in the competition, but I don’t expect her to get lost the way Valerie Harper did last season. However, Diana is paired with new pro Henry Byalikov, so there is a wild card in play here.
Claim to Fame: Double-amputee paralympic snowboarder
Brings to the ballroom: Amy has a lock on inspirational stories for the competition. Also, as an Olympic-level athlete, she won’t have to worry about the rigors of the competition either. Amy is paired with Derek Hough, which could be a liability in terms of how much of the spotlight he shares with his partner.
Claim to fame: Real Housewife from Atlanta, muse for Ryan Murphy
Brings to the ballroom: There is definitely audience crossover, as NeNe is not the only Real Housewife to compete. This also isn’t her first competitive reality experience, having been a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice back in 2011. As long as she keeps her cool when interacting with the judges and shows improvement week-to-week, NeNe could be a major player this season.
Cody Simpson / James Maslow
Claims to fame: Disney/Nickelodeon Teen Pop Starz SQUEEEE (or some combination thereof)
Bring to the ballroom: Normally there’s only one slot for someone of this celebrity type, but DWTS is doubling down this season. I know nothing about either of these guys, other than if they are part of the typical mould they would have been working on the required skills since birth (and perhaps before). Maslow has the slight edge, given that Simpson is an Aussie who has entered the D/NTPSS machine as entree to the US market.
Claim to fame: Former NHL player, occasional model
Brings to the ballroom: Avery is a man of firsts. He’s the first professional hockey player to compete on Dancing with the Stars, he’s the source of a handful of controversies in his sport, and he’s one of the first athletes to come out in support of same-sex marriage. He will have the agility and strength needed to be successful on the show, and as long as he doesn’t get into a hockey fight with Len, he could go quite far. That is unless he has the dance style of Keyshawn Johnson and is first to go.
Charlie White / Meryl Davis
Claims to fame: 2014 Gold Medalists in Ice Dancing
Bring to the ballroom: Uh, gold medals in the sport of ice dancing? They are the ringiest ringers that ever rang. Unless they have awful personalities (like, George and Martha from Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf? awful), there is no way they aren’t getting to the finals and claiming the Mirror Ball Trophy.