Dancing With the Stars’ Emma Slater Chats All Things Childhood and Career

America’s top dance show is making its debut in the Lilac City Wednesday night. Dancing With the Stars, known for its dazzling dances and star-studded celebrities, the fierce and fabulous dance show has taken its talents on the road. 

Stopping in cities along the route like Vancouver, Seattle and now Spokane, the Trending Northwest team had the honor of interviewing the host of the live DWTS tour, Emma Slater. 

The champion dancer and now host shared with Trending Northwest that she remembered begging her mom and dad to take her to ballroom dance classes growing up in England. Years later, her dreams of dancing have come true and now she is conquering collaborating with her other dream, hosting. 

Taking the Trending Northwest stage before the First Interstate Center of the Arts, here is our interview with Emma Slater. 

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TNW: I know you started dancing from a young age. Do you remember why you were drawn to it? 

(Photo by Amy Ryerson)

ES: I always had so much energy as a kid I was bouncing off the walls and I begged my parents to take me to a ballroom dancing class. I begged my parents to take me to a ballroom dancing class, and it was just everything to me.

TNW: How does your family feel now about your success after driving you to dance lessons and now it’s your career? 

ES: Really proud. My parents are just the most amazing people. They really sacrificed a lot for me. We didn’t come from a family of money at all. And so it was a lot for them to commit to because something is really expensive. Especially when I got into competitions. A lot of money goes into traveling for gas, and the lessons are so expensive. Then the costumes, and then even just to enter the competition, it’s a lot. So they are amazed and thrilled and so proud of me for making my career, especially when, honestly, there’s so few opportunities to do that.

TNW: When did you realize you wanted to make the jump into like, “I love this so much,I want it to be my everything, my career.” 

ES: In competitions, I got the opportunity to do small little things were still in school at the time. I did some music videos. And then once I finished with school, I was offered a touring show. And I took that because I was able to make money throughout the week, performing every night, which was an absolute dream.Then from there, I got an agent, my agent just naturally said, hey, just why not have an agency to see what you can get? And then, and then I ended up getting “Mamma Mia” from the movie.

TNW: So that then started opening more doors for you, you would say?

ES: Absolutely. I think there aren’t very many ballroom dancing shows like theater shows that people take note of. And so it’s a niche market. If you’re in the ballroom dancing world, and you do performances in theater, the amount of people that do it is quite small, and so people get to know you. And then if there was another opportunity, and people need dancers, there’s kind of pool of people that they speak to, and everybody’s connected.

TNW: Can you take us to your first interview or audition for Dancing With the Stars or your first like call to that stage?

ES: I had an interview. I remember it was a producer that gave me the interview and I went into the Los Angeles Beverly Hills of office. I sat down and they had seen me dancing on videos. I knew I was qualified, and they just wanted to do a camera test. And I remember them specifically asking me questions like, what does it mean to you to win? And how competitive you are because of that personality, totally everything. And I just answered the way I normally would. Then I got the call that I was going to be on and I was actually in Australia at the time. And I remember I only had like, four days to get my passport stamped. It was the most exciting time.

Emma Slater, Betty King and Harry Jowsey - Dancing with the Stars

Emma Slater, Betty King, and Harry Jowsey share a moment of laughter on stage during the Dancing With the Stars Tour in Spokane at First Interstate Center for the Arts on Wednesday March 14th, 2024. (Erin Peterson/Trending Northwest)

TNW: Can you tell us how hard your job is? I think people think it’s all glitz and glamor, but it is difficult. As we know, can you kind of tell us how difficult it is?

ES: The hard part of my job is more on the mental side and how you have to have a lot of endurance, because as a professional dancer on the TV show, there’s a lot of pressure on you to get it right. Because if the celebrity even if they can’t dance, yeah, you train really hard, physically throughout the week, and you make the right decisions. 

ES:  I constantly feel like I’m having to sharpen my tools, I’m having to be super aware, and to be self critical. But at the same time, make sure that I’m also supporting myself so that I can be the strong leader that I need to be for my celebrity and choices. I always need to be looking for new tricks, and new choreography and new ways to make them shine, new dances, new kinds of music, everything like it’s a constant learning curve. 

TNW: You’ve been on the show, you’ve been in the public eye, like how do you stay grounded and happy without dealing, you know, with everything that comes with being in the public?

ES: That is a challenging part of my job. Being in the public eye is wonderful, I’m not going to pretend that it sucks, because it really it doesn’t. It’s a great thing, especially to be acknowledged for your craft. That’s really something special when you are known for what you do and what you produce. Rather than just, you know, being known. I find that so, so rewarding. 

ES: It does come with challenges. Particularly, you know, if you’re going through Sunday in your personal life, and if you need to protect yourself, it can get a lot. You know, a lot of people sometimes think that they know you and they might come up with a judgmental or a comment that hurts. Yeah. And generally I find these people they don’t even think about it doesn’t matter so much to them. They just kind of just chuck out comments,

Thinking about how it might hurt you. So I have had to build up a big barrier because I’m a pretty sensitive person. Yeah. And, and you have to sort of move past that and surround yourself with good, supportive people.

TNW: That’s, that’s beautiful. That’s perfect. Okay, my last question for you is, what can people look forward to next week at the show?

ES: it’s going to be electric. There’s going to be so much energy. We have phenomenal group dances choreographed by Mandy Moore, who is just an absolute legend. We have a section in the show that explains what goes into making a perfect dance and it’s more of a theatrical piece. Our people really enjoy that. We have Harry Jowsey, who is a very lovable and endearing character as a character and loveable person. 

ES: It really is a wonderful, spectacular night for all the family.

Learn more about upcoming shows at the Spokane Arena and First Interstate Center at firstinterstatecenter.org

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