Published 10:00 AM EDT Sep 3, 2020
“Dancing with the Stars” is just the right adventure for “Selling Sunset” star Chrishell Stause after a challenging year or so in which news of her marriage’s demise played out on TV and she lost both of her parents to lung cancer.
Stause, 39, one of 15 celebrities in Season 29 of the ABC dance competition, premiering Sept. 14, (8 EDT/PDT), is happy for the challenge and the chance to show how she’s doing after “Sunset” viewers watched her react after she learned her husband, “This Is Us” star Justin Hartley, was filing for divorce. The episode of the Netflix reality series was taped last fall and streamed in August.
“I am in a great place. That’s something that I’m looking forward to showing, because that wasn’t the case when I was filming (“Sunset) many months ago,” she says. “And I’ve had a lot of things happen since then, too,” including the death of her mother in July.
Support from friends and family has helped the former “All My Children” and “Days of Our Lives” star cope with difficult times. (Her father died in April 2019; both parents had lung cancer.)
Back to the ballroom: ‘DWTS’ snares Netflix stars Carole Baskin, Chrishell Stause and coach Monica from ‘Cheer’ for Season 29
“When you get knocked off your horse, (they) help you get back up again,” she says. “I don’t like to dwell on negativity. I really am excited to change the narrative of what we’ve been talking about and move forward.”
Hartley filed for divorce in November 2019 after two years of marriage to Stause, whose reaction to the news was part of “Sunset,” a reality show that follows a group of real estate agents, primarily women, at The Oppenheim Group who sell luxury properties in Los Angeles. The Season 3 episode, “Bad News Travels Fast,” began streaming last month.
Real (estate) life: ‘Selling Sunset’: Chrishell Stause learns of divorce from Justin Hartley in a text: ‘It’s hard not to feel worthless’
Earlier in the season, it seemed like the relationship was fine. However, in the final minutes of the fifth episode, Stause’s co-workers learn of Hartley’s action from TMZ and she tells colleague Mary Fitzgerald that he informed her of the split in a text message.
Stause wouldn’t discuss Hartley or the divorce with USA TODAY, but she acknowledges the unease of having a difficult personal matter play out on TV.
“That’s not ideal, and it’s definitely the hardest part of what we do. It’s not my favorite part and it’s certainly turned into something that I never imagined when I did sign up,” she says. “But it is what it is. At this point, if everyone’s going to be talking about you, at least (I) have nothing to hide. So I’m looking forward to turning the page and hopefully the fans will come with me and we can get things moving toward positive, different chapters.”
“Dancing” is one such chapter, and Stause sees her mother, whom she honored this summer in an Instagram post, as inspiration.
She’s pleased to have “a tribute to her, to bring the spotlight to the issue at hand. Cancer has touched everyone and is such a terrible disease. I know my mom would want me to do this and I know she would be the proudest of me.”
“Dancing” puts participants under a different kind of real-life spotlight than “Sunset” and Stause is aware of the risks, especially because she doesn’t have any dancing experience.
“Hopefully, I don’t fall on my face,” she says. “It’s just hitting at the most perfect time in my life: What do I have to lose? I think I would have been a little too scared in the past. So far, I can’t tell you how happy I am that I did say yes. I’m already having a blast.”
Stause, who had finished her second day of rehearsal with her pro partner earlier this week and feels “very safe” with pandemic health and safety protocols, envisions “a very steep learning curve.”
“I feel like every single thing that they’re teaching, my body wants to do the opposite,” she says.
Stause meanders when asked if she think she will win: “I want to give it 1000%. Anything I say yes to, that’s how I attack it. I just don’t see how you can go from nothing to being able to beat a natural dancer,” she says. “Of course, everybody would like to win. It seems a little unlikely, but let’s put it out there to the universe: Sure.”
Stause expects her “Sunset” co-stars will cheer her on.
“I think I would have the majority of them on my side,” she says, listing colleagues Jason Oppenheim, Mary Fitzgerald, Amanza Smith, Heather Young and Maya Vander. “I know I would be supporting them if the tables were turned. I’m sure you can make a guess of the ones that are probably going to vote against me.”
OK, we will. Would rival Christine Quinn be in her rooting section? “No, I don’t think it would make her calendar,” Stause says.
“But it’s probably better that way.”