Why ‘DWTS’ Season 31 Competitor Joseph Baena Doesn’t Use His Famous Father’s Last Name

Most people know about the four children Arnold Schwarzenegger shares with his wife Maria, but not many know about his other son, Joseph Baena. Born to Mildred Baena in 1997, Schwarzenegger’s youngest son will compete in season 31 of Dancing with the Stars. Find out why the actor and body builder chose to keep his mother’s last name instead of his famous father’s.

Joseph Baena, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mildred Baena's son and 'DWTS' Season 31 star, flexing for the camera
Joseph Baena attends the Los Angeles Premiere of Columbia Pictures’ ‘Bullet Train’ | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Joseph Baena didn’t know Arnold Schwarzenegger was his father until eighth grade

Baena was unaware of who his father was until he was in grade school. “I was in the eighth grade,” he told Men’s Health in February 2022. “Fifth or sixth period. And I get called out of class to leave. And my mom’s there, and she’s like, ‘We gotta go — everyone is finding out about you and who your father is.'” 

To escape the media frenzy, Baena and his mother went to Texas to visit family. Mildred used to be Arnold Schwarzenegger’s housekeeper. She was born in Guatemala and worked for Schwarzenegger’s family for 20 years before leaving in 2011.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has a relationship with his son, but Joseph wants to make a name for himself 

According to Men’s health, Baena and Schwarzenegger “appear to have become close.” The father-son duo often work out together at Gold’s Gym, Schwarzenegger’s iconic training ground. 

However, when it comes to his career — Baena is pursuing acting — he made the conscious choice to keep Mildred’s last name. “When I go to auditions, they don’t know who I am, because we don’t have the same last name,” Baena told the outlet. “I know it’s all me.”

So far, Baena’s acting credits include Scam Squad and Chariot. He’ll also appear in the upcoming Called to Duty: The Last Air ShowBully High, and Encounters. He also said: “My dad is old-school; he doesn’t believe in handouts. He believes hard work pays off, and so do I. I love the word honor, and I’m very prideful in the sense that if I use my dad’s contacts or ask him for favors, I wonder what honor is that gonna bring me?”

Joseph Baena is competing in ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Season 31 

Baena hopes to continue making a name for himself in season 31 of Dancing with the Stars. He’s partnered with season 30 champion Daniella Karagach, who won the Mirrorball Trophy with NBA star Iman Shumpert last year. 

Here’s what Baena’s competition looks like: 

  • Sam Champion  — Cheryl Burke 
  • Vinny Guadagnino — Koko Iwasaki
  • Jordan Sparks — Brandon Armstrong
  • Wayne Brady — Witney Carson
  • Gabby Windey — Val Chmerkovskiy
  • Teresa Giudice — Pasha Pashkov
  • Shangela — Gleb Savchenko
  • Charli D’Amelio — Mark Ballas
  • Heidi D’A’melio — Artem Chigvintsev
  • Selma Blair — Sasha Farber 
  • Trevor Donovan — Emma Slater 
  • Daniel Durant — Britt Stewart 
  • Jason Lewis  — Peta Murgatroyd
  • Cheryl Ladd — Louis van Amstel
  • Jessie James Decker — Alan Bersten

Ahead of week 1, Baena isn’t at the top of Dancing with the Stars fan’s leaderboards. But that could change! 

Tune in to see Baena’s dancing skills in the premiere of Dancing with the Stars Season 31. New episodes air exclusively on Disney+ beginning on Sept. 19, 2022. 

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