Dancing With the Stars season 29 premieres on September 14 at 8 p.m. Eastern time (7 p.m. Central time) on ABC; ahead of the premiere, the complete DWTS cast was announced on Good Morning America Wednesday morning, September 2.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the reveal on Good Morning America looked a little different this year, with the stars being revealed remotely via pre-recorded home videos. The stars then introduced themselves via video call and briefly talked about their excitement and plans for the season.
In the weeks leading up to the big cast reveal, all of the season’s pro dancers were announced on GMA. The 2020 professional dancers are Brandon Armstrong, Alan Bersten, Sharna Burgess, Cheryl Burke, Artem Chigvintsev, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Sasha Farber, Jenna Johnson, Daniella Karagach, Keo Motsepe, Peta Murgatroyd, Pasha Pashkov, Gleb Savchenko, Britt Stewart and Emma Slater. The season’s pairs were not revealed on DWTS; fans will have to see who the celebrities were partnered with on the season 29 premiere.
ABC also announced a few of the celebrity cast members to generate excitement for the new season in advance of the full cast announcement. The Bachelorette star Kaitlyn Bristowe was the first cast member confirmed; Backstreet Boys’ AJ McLean was confirmed at the end of August.
One major cast change this season is the show’s host. Supermodel and America’s Next Top Model host Tyra Banks is taking over, replacing Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews.
Here’s what you need to know about the stars of Dancing With the Stars season 29:
Former NFL athlete and Superbowl champion Vernon Davis was invited to join DWTS in the past, so it’s been a long time coming for Davis to take the ballroom floor. Over video call, Davis showed off his “signature move.”
Davis retired from the NFL earlier this year. According to NBC Sports, Davis made a statement explaining his unexpected exit from professional football, writing, “Just the simple wear and tear over time. Especially those concussions,” Davis said. “They can take a toll on you in the long haul. It’s just better safe than sorry. But if it wasn’t for that throughout the course of time, then I probably would have played for the next five years, at least. But I feel like I made a great decision as I move forward.”
Actress Skai Jackson, who got her start on the Disney television show Jessie, is the season’s youngest competitor. She is only 18 years old, and just graduated high school. Jackson spread the news that she’d be competing for the season 29 mirror ball in an Instagram post, telling her 6.6 million followers to “Get ready!”
Johnny Weir is a two-time Olympic figure skater and earned a bronze medal for Team USA at the 2008 Olympics. This is not Weir’s first celebrity talent competition; he previously competed as “The Egg” on The Masked Singer. Weir said his time on the ice, his ability to emote to a song and his athletic strength will help him on the dancefloor, but dancing is going to be an entirely different skill to learn.
Nelly is a big name in the music industry as an American rapped and recording artist, known for hit songs like “Dilemma” and “Hot in Herre.” As a virtual guest on GMA, Nelly said his honest first reaction to being asked to compete on DWTS was “Hell yeah, let’s do it.” He said he’s not sure how he’ll do as a dancer since he believes he has “two left feet, and two right ankles.”
Baskin said she was “villainized” by Tiger King, and that the show missed the ball by not focusing on the cats. She said her plan as a contestant on DWTS was to keep the cats at the forefront. When she was asked if she’s competitive and if her fellow contestants should be worried about her, she replied, “I am competitive, but I am competitive with myself.”
Tiger King became a viral sensation in March, as a popular Netflix binge for many at the start of the COVID-19 quarantine. Baskin was a controversial character among the docuseries’ audience, so it’s no surprise she quickly started trending on Twitter once it was announced that she would be a part of the Dancing With the Stars cast.
Chrishll Stause stars in the hit Netflix real estate show Selling Sunset. Talking about her dancing potential on Good Morning America, Stausse chose words she said they use in real estate to describe the less-than-impressive homes, saying she’ll bring “unique and charming” qualities to the stage. After the announcement was made, Stause took to social media to express her excitement and nervousness. In an Instagram post, she wrote, “Ahhhhh!!! Tune into @goodmorningamerica today & soon you can catch me in the BALLROOM on @dancingabc ! Equal parts EXCITED and TERRIFIED!.”
There are a number of reality stars competing on Dancing With the Stars this season, including the creator and star of Catfish, Nev Schulman. Schulman said he’ll use his experience helping people navigate heartbreak on his show to help his competitors get through their own heartbreak and loss throughout the competition.
Catfish is currently airing its 8th season on MTV; the season was filmed remotely, with Schulman investigating suspicious online relationships from his home.
Backstreet Boys star AJ McClean said he was going to bring some of his boy band moves to the competition, adding that his unnamed partner is already warning him not to drop his arm and break his frame on the dance floor.
McClean’s spot in the cast was revealed at the end of August, days before the rest of his celebrity castmates were announced. Spreading the exciting news, he wrote on Instagram, “We’re going for the mirrorball, baby!! I am so grateful to @dancingabc and @abcnetwork for the opportunity to be joining this season’s cast of #DWTS. I also want to thank my wife and my two girls for letting Daddy go on this new adventure. I’m doing it ALL for you! Get ready, BSB Army, this is going to be a wild ride. LET’S DO THIS!!!!!!”
Monica Aldama rose to fame as a coach on the reality show Cheer. Although she has years of experience in cheerleading, Aldama said she has no prior dance training. As a nod to the DWTS trophy, Aldama posed holding two mirror balls to announce her season 29 casting to her Instagram followers. With the photo, she wrote, “I’m so excited to be dancing in the ballroom this season on @dancingabc!!! Lets go!! #DWTS.”
Actor Jesse Metcalfe was invited to join DWTS in the past but turned the offer down. When asked what made him change his mind this time, Metcalfe said, “I really just feel that it’s a totally new landscape in the entertainment industry. … It’s sort of wide open for you to do whatever you want.” He referred to himself as a “non-dancer” but said he wants to leave the show with a new skillset and hopefully get a role on Broadway after.
Kaitlyn Bristowe was the star of The Bachelorette after appearing as a fan-favorite contestant on The Bachelor. Bristowe said she has her eyes on AJ McClean and Johnny Weir as her main competition.
When Bristowe’s participation in the season 26 cast was revealed, she reflected on the opportunity in an episode of her web series. She said, “I’m going to be under a microscope again, and I feel like it took me a couple years to get out of that feeling of everybody’s eyes on me and criticizing and just everybody has an opinion. So my fear about going back into the world of national television with something as vulnerable as dancing, I’m excited, but I’m also a little bit nervous again to be critiqued for being myself.”
Jeannie Mai is best known as the Emmy award-winning host of the daytime talk show The Real. She made a name for herself as a stylist on the show How Do I Look? Mai also produces a web series and podcast called “Hello Hunnay With Jeannie Mai.”
Actress Anne Heche is also an accomplished director and filmmaker. Outside of her professional work, she is known for her past relationship with Ellen DeGeneres; the relationship ended in 2000. Heche stars in the new film The Vanished, alongside Thomas Jane and Jason Patric.
Actress Justina Machado rose to fame in the hit HBO show Six Feet Under; she also played Darci Factor in Jane the Virgin. Machado currently stars as “Penelope Alvarez” in the sitcom One Day at a Time.
Former NBA star Charles Oakley is the second professional athlete in the season 29 Dancing With the Stars cast. Throughout his impressive career, Oakley played for the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards, and Houston Rockets. Oakley said he’s only 5 pounds above the weight he was in the NBA, suggesting he’s in shape and ready to compete.
The season 29 premiere of Dancing With the Stars airs on September 14 at 8 p.m. Eastern time on ABC.