“I’ve never been a tabloid whipping boy before,” said Jaleel White.
The former Family Matters star can’t look to the 60-hour training weeks or the throbbing feet when trying to describe his toughest moment so far on Dancing With The Stars. Nope. Instead, he's concerned with the gossip circuit.
For the past week and a half, publications have been running wild with Google-topping stories about his March 30 altercation with partner Kym Johnson and recent reports involving his ex-girlfriend Bridget Hardy’s abuse accusations.
“It really just cracks me up,” he said of websites picking up unsubstantiated stories. “These people specialize in telling you that aliens are abducting babies! ... I’m just blown away with how many people actually pay attention to that stuff.”
White spoke over the phone with Hollywood.com on April 6 about the trials of trying to dance on a national show with controversy surrounding the usually squeaky-clean star.
Last week, the celebrities on the show were tasked with the theme of creating a dance centered on the most memorable years of their lives. Jaleel wanted to pay homage to Stefan, Steve Urkel’s slick, popular alter ego. "My track record in life speaks for itself ... You could see it on my face. I wish I had been able to just smile more and enjoy the only tribute that I’ve ever done to my past character. The fact that people would try and take that joy away from me ... It turned the whole experience real high school,” he said.
Now, White turns to “Rock Week,” where April 8 and 9, he can return to his affable, fun-loving self and Kym can bring her “aggressive moves” without any complaints from Jaleel.
“I don’t make any secret that Kym didn’t know much about the Stefan character, she had a lot of very aggressive movements that she gets to put into rock now! I was like, ‘Look, this character is smooth.’ It was personal story week and last week was the only week I had an opinion about certain choreography,” he stressed before popping in some jokes about getting ready to emulate rock god Mick Jagger.
“Obviously I’m more Jigga (Jay Z) than Jagger but at the same time, I love songs that are American anthems and I feel my song is one of them ... I’ve got my competitors in the hall singing my song, so I like that feeling!”
Evidenced by his willingness to joke through the situation, it seems the cool, confident White should be back this week instead of a shielded competitor vexed by outside distractions.
But who is the team to beat? “Will Levy is the one-man bachelorette party,” he laughed. “He s such a fun guy to be around and it’s funny what he does to that ballroom. I love feeding off that energy.”
But don’t count out Jaleel just yet. With all the teams divided by a single point on what he affirms is the best season ever on DWTS, it is still anyone’s game. "If you were in a basketball game and only had a one-point lead, how comfortable would you feel?”
Would you hire William Levy for your bachelorette party? Do you expect Jaleel to make a big comeback this week and wow the judges? Who is in trouble this week? Leave a comment below!
Dancing With The Stars airs 8 p.m. Mondays and 9 p.m. Tuesdays on ABC.