Jenna Johnson Details Tough Week with Karamo Brown: 'I Have Bronchitis, He Has a 103-Degree Fever'
Jenna Johnson is back for her fifth season as a pro dancer on Dancing with the Stars — and is partnered with Queer Eye‘s Karamo Brown. Every week, Jenna will give readers an inside look at their journey thus far: the challenges, the laughs they share and what it’s going to take to win!
Week two has been a pretty chaotic week for Karamo and myself. Karamo took 10 flights this week and he’s been doing a bunch of speaking engagements as well as trying to master and conquer the quickstep, which is by far the hardest dance to have on DWTS, especially during week two when we’re so fresh and new. I was so incredibly proud of him because we were both under the weather, very sick and he pushed and pushed because he really truly loves the show and wanted to do well for the judges, the fans and for himself. He did just that.
I thought it was a great improvement from last week. We got two 7s, which is incredible and I was so happy with the judge’s comments. You can really tell that they saw improvement. Carrie Ann had some great comments for Karamo. She said, “That’s what I want to see. I saw you,” because Carrie Ann saw the pop and charisma; and Bruno is always great. I learned that the more I showcase Karamo and just show who he is as a person, the better he’s going to do, the more he’s going to shine and the more he’s going to feel more comfortable. I did that.
In the beginning he had this fun reveal with the cape, which was his idea by the way. He was like, “Jenna, every drag does a reveal and so we have to add one” — and it paid off! I think he gave a really sassy beginning that set the tone for our quickstep. I was so proud of him because his frame was aligned, his elbows were up, the body contact — I just couldn’t believe our performance. I knew it was going to be good because we rehearsed and he was catching on. I think when it comes to showtime, he shows up and he’s just a performer. I don’t know how he hasn’t danced before because he truly lights up the stage when he goes out there.
I have had bronchitis for three weeks, which is really awful, so my lungs basically hate me right now. Karamo had a 103-degree fever at the Emmys last night and he broke his fever while they were camera blocking today; he was throwing up all day. But he pushed through and I’m really happy he did because it shows that he’s a fighter and it showed that he’s really serious about the competition to never give up even under the circumstances. That’s what you want in a partner and that kind of attitude is what’s going to get him far in this competition.
I think we always need to add a little bit of Karamo moments. Whether it’s a reveal, feathers, sparkles, I want to add it all and keep building, hopefully until the end. We have something really exciting and fun planned for next week and I think a lot of his fans are going to love it. Karamo is very hands on and has a strong opinion. He lets me do my work as his teacher, but I also want to know his opinion on things because when he feels excited and confident about what he’s doing, he’s going to show off more. Which we want because he’s going to produce better and he’s going to feel himself. It’s so scary out on that dance floor so you always want a moment of comfort or a “this is me” moment. You do way better that way.
I love the consistent critiques from the judges because I think it shows that they’re invested in him and that they want to see him do well because they see potential in him. So far we need more hip action, which we’ll continue to give them, and more body action like they said today. Body contact in the quickstep is the hardest since you’re running around and almost bumping into each other. But I know we’ll bring it next week.
I think we’re good on the chemistry and steaminess on the dance floor, but it’s funny because Karamo keeps asking if I’ll marry him and I say yes. I think it would be fabulous to have two husbands. I guess it would be three because then his fiancée will be my husband, so I’m down!
But really, my husband Val is my lifeline and we’re always communicating, especially when I’m on the road and he’s here rehearsing in L.A. We love to Facetime and I must have our daily Facetimes. He is so supportive and I look forward to our nights together. It’s so funny, I think we’re already this old couple, we never go out or anything. My favorite moments are coming home to him and be able to relax, snuggle, watch a favorite show of ours and order some food in — that’s just the best. Val is definitely my sanity through a tough and exhausting season, and he’s going through it too. He’s fine-tuning his brand new partnership. Sailor has been amazing for him, Karamo has been amazing for me, and so I think we’re super fortunate to be where we are with our partners. At the end of the day, Val is just the best support system.
For next week, it’s going to be drama. It’s going to be colorful, wild, a production. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m excited for you all to see.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.