With a freshly shorn beard, former Bachelor Matt James is set to make his “Dancing With the Stars” debut on September 20. Off the dance floor, his girlfriend Rachael Kirkconnell is proving to be his biggest cheerleader.
Singing his praises to Us Weekly, the 24-year old said, “I think he’s going to be incredible, of course, but you know it’s been really exciting just watching him come home from practice and whatnot, and his partner is so amazing.”
The Georgia-native continued telling the outlet, “He’s been picking it up so quickly, so I’ve been so impressed with him. I’m impressed with everything he does. I think he’s going to do really well. He’s not the most fluid, and he doesn’t have the rhythm down yet but I think he will [get it].”
James and Kirkconnell began dating after meeting on season 25 of “The Bachelor.” They briefly broke up after her past racially insensitive social media posts resurfaced, but reconciled weeks after the “After the Final Rose” special.
James Practices His Dance Moves With Kirkconnell
While Kirkconnell did not name James’ professional partner, she teased Us Weekly that “they work really well together.” As Good Morning America reported, James and his fellow contestants will reveal their partners on the season 30 premiere.
When he’s not in the studio, James turns to a familiar face to practice his moves.
“She’s been my dance partner outside of ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” the 29-year-old told People. “I come back and try to apply the same lessons that I learned during my rehearsals. She’s been keeping me in shape!”
This is not the first time he has been open about her support, revealing to Us Weekly that “She was stoked about this opportunity for me.”
Kirkconnell Will Be Bicoastal While James Competes
James and Kirkconnell were already in a long-distance relationship, with the ABC Food Tours founder living in New York City with his best friend and Bachelor Nation fan-favorite Tyler Cameron. He has temporarily relocated to Los Angeles, California for his tenure in the dancing competition.
“So I’ve been splitting time ever since he’s been out there,” Kirkconnel told Us Weekly on September 10. “I’ll be out there next week again because the premiere’s on the 20th so it’s been fun going, you know, being a little bicoastal.”
Kirkconnell admitted to the outlet that she “would love to be there and support him” during his performances, but is unsure if this season will have live audiences amid the coronavirus pandemic.
James Is Following in the Footsteps of Other Bachelor Nation Stars
James is not the first Bachelor Nation star to compete on “Dancing With the Stars.”
Former Bachelorettes Hannah Brown and Kaitlyn Bristowe won the last two seasons, with Melissa Rycroft winning season 15. Other past contestants include Trista Sutter, Jake Pavelka, Sean Lowe, Chris Soules, Nick Viall and Joe Amabile.
This season, the former football player will join a slew of stars from across sports and the arts. He will compete against Martin Kove, Jimmie Allen, Melanie C, Cody Rigsby, Melora Hardin, Iman Shumpert, Christine Chiu, Brian Austen Green, Amanda Kloots, Kenya Moore, Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, Olivia Jade Giannulli, JoJo Siwa and Suni Lee.