"Just let me get through the first week," The Real co-host says of her upcoming Dancing with the Stars appearance

By Morgan M. Evans
September 03, 2020 04:21 PM
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Jeannie Mai is getting ready for the ballroom.

On Wednesday, The Real co-host was revealed as one of the celebrity cast members on the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars. 

Mai joins a vibrant cast of stars including Backstreet Boys' AJ McLeanTiger King subject Carole BaskinSelling Sunset's Chrishell Stause and former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe.

And while the talk-show host "couldn't believe" she'd been selected for the series and is excited about her new dancing gig, Mai tells PEOPLE that she wouldn't rate her current dance skills a 10 just yet.

"I've never ballroom danced. My dancing skills range between electric sliding at weddings to dancing on top of a couple of speakers at bachelorette parties and raves. So I would say it's about a ratchet 10,  if ratchet was on the board," Mai says with a laugh. "When it comes to the ballroom, I've got two left feet, and I realized I need some vitamins for my ankles. I never knew that I had crappy ankles. They're terrible. They hurt so much."

She continues, "I got up from bed the other day and my fiancé [Jeezy] was like, 'What is that noise?' And I was like, 'My bones. They're my bones.' It sounded like a Jenga puzzle dropping under the ground. It's terrible. I never realized that."

Jeannie Mai
Matt Baron/Shutterstock

Despite her weak ankles, Mai is ready to vie for the mirror ball trophy, already starting rehearsals under strict health guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I want to be concerned about my health for myself, of course, but even now when I dance with my partner, we're COVID testing twice a day. And I'm only quarantining in my home, and then I'm going straight to rehearsals," she says. "I really love that the team's already taking safe precautions on their own. And then to me, just as long as I have my cell phone, my man, and some food in the fridge, I'm good. I'm good for a few months. So I can hang down for a bit."

While social-distancing at home, Mai — who got engaged to rapper/entrepreneur Jeezy in March — explains that she has been trying to detox and focusing on things that bring positive vibes in these trying times.

"I decided early on in the quarantine that I wanted to be a part of things that were positive and very productive for me," she says. "In quarantine, I really realized that we need to be focused on the essentials and what is most productive for who we are inside and outside, and Dancing with the Stars is a positive show that is helpful."

Jeannie Mai and Jeezy
Courtesy Jeannie Mai

In addition to hitting the ballroom, Mai has also partnered with Straight Talk Wireless in hard times brought on by the pandemic where it is crucial for people to stay connected but also save money.

"I found that besides the essential people I was quarantined with, my cell phone was essential. It was essential to help me talk to producers, to book me on Dancing with the Stars. What wasn't essential was the cell phone plan that I had and the thousands of dollars I was paying for my smartphone," the Listen Hunnay podcast host explains. "How am I trying to save money during the quarantine, but yet I'm spending out with just one essential. So partnering with Straight Talk wireless to teach everybody out there on how they could save money on a cell phone and cell phone plan."

"This quarantine has made me feel like I'm an adult," she adds. "I just make me feel like I'm making better choices."

Tyra Banks
ABC

Another thing that is essential to Mai? Her family and friends.

"My fiancé and my mom are the only two people that knew I was joining Dancing with the Stars. I kept it pretty hush because I couldn't believe it myself, to be honest with you. It wasn't until I went to rehearsals that I was like, 'Oh, s---, this is happening. This is for real,'" Mai says, explaining that after the reveal on Good Morning America, she was "inundated with messages" from her close circle.

"My mom started a bet, a pool for me and against me, it's over $6,000 now where all these Vietnamese people in the Bay area are voting with me or against me. I'm not getting a penny of this damn pool," Mai says, laughing. "It's just fun. I love it. All my people are coming out of the woodworks, just rooting for me. I'm getting videos and different tips.I feel like if I have the support, then I can do anything."

And even if she doesn't take home the mirrorball trophy in the end, there is another goal.

"Just let me get through the first week," Mai says. "All my friends, they all say, 'If you get eliminated the first week, we're unfollowing or canceling your calls, everything's done. Just don't get eliminated the first week.' And I was like, 'That's actually a good guide for myself.' Just every week, just get to the first week, and we're good."

Season 29 of DWTS, with new host Tyra Banks, will premiere Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.