Speaking to PEOPLE on Tuesday in Los Angeles at a special launch event for her line of products, L.A.C., Arnold opened up about the most recent season of the ABC show, which saw her partnered with President Donald Trump‘s former press secretary Sean Spicer.
Spicer’s casting was controversial from the get-go: The political aide was widely disparaged after he used the White House press podium to lie and attack journalists during his tenure; he resigned in 2017. Still, he made it relatively far in the competition, placing sixth.
“Here’s the thing — every season, we never know who our partner is going to be, but we know that we’re going in with a job and we’re going in with a skill that we are going to try to give to another person,” Arnold explained. “And for me, that’s my favorite part of the show, the fact that I get to take what I love and what has brought me so much joy in my life and help somebody else feel that as well.”
“So going into that, I knew no matter who my partner was going to be, I was going to respect them, and teach them, and do the best that I could with the job that I was given,” she continued. “And that’s what we did all season long.”
“I think everybody’s going to have their opinion no matter what the topic is,” she added. “No one’s ever really going to agree on anything. So I understood that, I knew that was going to come, and honestly I just had to take it with a grain of salt and do my job, make sure that this season was no different than any other, and respect and give my best to my partner in the best way that I could. So that’s what I tried to do, and we ended up making it very far.”
As for her own personal dynamic with Spicer?
“If you know me, I am not the kind of person to talk politics,” said Arnold, 25. “I love to get to know who people are, about their family, their interests outside of work. That’s the stuff I care about and the stuff that I try to talk about with my partner.”
“So Sean and I got along very well,” she continued. “He was a very respectful man to me, and very kind and gracious and a very, very hard worker. We had a great relationship, but no, we did not chat politics. I don’t even think I’d know where to begin with that, so I just kept that out.”
Arnold said both she and Spicer, 48, understood that his dancing skills weren’t what kept him in the competition for so long.
“We knew every single week that technically, dance ability-wise, he shouldn’t have been making it as far as he did, but we have to remember what the show is,” she said. “It’s not just a dance competition, it’s also about people at home voting. Because it was Sean, it caused a lot more controversy, … it sparked up some issues, but at the end of the day, like I said, we’ve just got to do our job and do what we’re asked, and try to make the best of every situation that we have.”
Speaking to PEOPLE after his elimination on Nov. 11, Spicer said he had “mixed” emotions — that he was both “relieved in a way” and “somewhat disappointed” to be going home.
“The judges made the right decision on a night where you had two dances,” he said. “The scores were going to be very difficult to overcome.”
He also thanked his fans, making note of the public support he received from the president and his son, Donald Trump Jr.
“It means a lot,” Spicer said. “I appreciate his support and his continued friendship. It means a tremendous amount to me to know that he’s taking time to put his support out there. I thank him for that.”