James Van Der Beek was instantly a fan-favorite contestant on Dancing with the Stars after the cast list for Season 28 was announced, and the former Dawson’s Creek star is ready to put in the work. Van Der Beek, who’s 42-years-old and 6 feet tall, isn’t taking the show lightly. With professional dance partner Emma Slater, he wants to win that mirror ball trophy.
Joining him as fellow competitors on the show: Bachelorette star Hannah Brown, The Office actress Kate Flannery, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Queer Eye‘s Karamo Brown, Fifth Harmony’s Ally Brooke, country singer Lauren Alaina, Christie Brinkley’s daughter, Sailor Brinkley-Cook, who’s filling in for her mom after she broke her arm in rehearsals, former NFL linebacker Ray Lewis, comedian Kel Mitchell, former L.A. Laker Lamar Odom, and singer Mary Wilson from The Supremes.
Here’s what you need to know about James Van Der Beek on ‘Dancing with the Stars’….
1. ‘DWTS’ Has Tried to Cast Van Der Beek for Years
Van Der Beek admitted that the ABC competition reality series has extended an invite for him to compete on the show for years, but it wasn’t until now that the timing was right. He said to US Weekly, “This year, the timing was right and I realized I just really, really want to do this. I’ve always loved dancing. I’ve always loved it. I love to move, I love music and it’s fun.
“My favorite thing about my job is when I get to learn skills that most people don’t ordinarily learn from the best in the world,” Van Der Beek continued. “Being challenged and having an amazing teacher is really my happy place. So whether it’s learning fight skills for the next project that I’m going to do, or learning how to ballroom dance. Over the last 10 years, every year I would purposely seek out a skill that I wasn’t very good at and just learn. Just to go through the humility of not being good at something, of working through the challenges, and then coming out on the other side with a new skill set.”
2. Van Der Beek Is Married to Wife Kimberly, Who Used to Be a Dancer
While numerous contestants fall in love and marry their dance partners, Van Der Beek has been happily married to wife Kimberly Van Der Beek since 2010, and together they have five children. Since Kimberly used to be a dancer herself, may be she was able to give her husband a few pointers before he started the official DWTS rehearsals.
Van Der Beek’s dance partner was officially revealed during the show premieres on September 16, and he will be competing alongside Emma Slater this season. The other professional dancers ABC signed on for Season 28 include Alan Bersten, Brandon Armstrong, Cheryl Burke Gleb Savchenko, Jenna Johnson, Keo Motsepe, Lindsay Arnold, Peta Murgatroyd, Sasha Farber, Val Chmerkovskiy, Witney Carson, Pasha Pashkov and Daniella Karagach.
3. He Played a Ballroom Dancer on ‘Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23’
While talking about attempting to train to be a real ballroom dancer on DWTS after portraying one himself on the scripted sitcom, Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23, Van Der Beek said to US Weekly that it’s all just incredibly meta.
“I don’t think it could be any more meta without all of our brain imploding,” he said.
“That happened because I love to dance and I thought it would be really fun. I’m the one who actually pitched that storyline. Fake me doing a fake Dancing with the Stars because I thought it would be really fun to dance and I thought it would be amazingly fun to also play a scene where like the fake version of me melts down, hallucinating and his hands are made out of pound cake. I learned, one cha-cha and had a great time.”
4. Van Der Beek’s Kids Accompany Him at Dance Rehearsals
The Van Der Beek family includes 5 children, and the Pose actor is regularly spotted leaving dance rehearsals in LA with at least one of his kids in tow, either sitting atop his shoulders, or holding their dad’s hand. Their eldest child is Olivia, 10, followed by Joshua, 7, Annabel, 5, Emilia, 3, and Gwendolyn, 1.
Based on Van Der Beek and his wife’s Instagram video posts, it appears the entire family has moves, and have regular dance parties at their house.
5. His ‘DWTS’ Fan Club Online is Huge
Van Der Beek not only has the support from his big family, but from his massive following of fans online. With nearly 300K followers on Twitter, and 740K on Instagram, fans from his roles in the movie Varsity Blues, along with FX’s Pose, CSI:Cyber, and of course, Dawson’s Creek, are incredibly excited to see how the 42-year-old will do on the reality competition series. Even people who’ve never before watched the show, they will be tuning in merely to watch Van Der Beek dance.