"My first dance has an ode to Pretty Little Liars in it," says the star

Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

Janel Parrish is best known for playing Mona Vanderwaal on the TV drama Pretty Little Liars. She’s been paired with pro Val Chmerkovskiy for season 19 of Dancing with the Stars, and she’ll be blogging for PEOPLE about her experience on the hit ABC show.

When I found out I was going to be on the show, my reaction came at me in two waves. The first wave was extreme excitement, and the second was extreme nervousness, just because I’ve never done anything like this before.

Everyone watches you go through your journey, whether it’s up or down, and they see you at every stage of the rehearsals. Doing a reality show kind of makes you feel like you’re naked, but I’m also open to that challenge, because I think that’s why people watch the show. It’s been a really, really fun roller-coaster ride for me so far.

I started dancing when I was 6 and was in and out of dance classes my whole life, but never anything with partnering and never any ballroom – so really never anything that’s going to help with this.

We are doing the jive this week, and my body’s kind of working against everything that I learned in my dance classes. Everything that my instincts want to do is not correct for the jive. Eventually, I think my instincts will be correct with certain dances.

My first dance contains an ode to Pretty Little Liars. If I get it right, which I think I will because Val’s going to whip me into shape, it’s going to be explosive.

Val has completely exceeded my expectations. He’s very particular about the steps, which is good. He’s also very funny. He makes me laugh all the time, and that’s what it’s all about. Even if I don’t do something right, he makes a funny joke about it and makes me laugh at myself and then we start again.

I’m sure everyone on the show’s going to be amazing, and the sad thing is that we all love each other already. It is great because, even though it’s a competition, we all really enjoy being together. I think we’re all rooting for each other.

I definitely, definitely want to win, but if that’s not in the cards, I just want to stick around and be here and work and learn and perform. There’s nothing like the rush of being onstage.

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