Janet Jackson, Pink, Missy Elliott, Kelly Clarkson, and Justin Timberlake All Had Jenna Dewan as a Backup Dancer Before Her Fame

Part of what adds to the appeal of a singer’s onstage performance is their skilled backup dancers. Backup dancers are the spice to the dance routines that the musicians often provide melodies for. Some dancers go on to achieve fame aside from their work, breaking even in music and acting. One such backup dancer hit the jackpot after working for some notable names in the entertainer industry. That’s because Janet Jackson, Missy Elliot, Kelly Clarkson, and Justin Timberlake all had Jenna Dewan as their backup dancer before becoming an A-lister herself.

Jenna Dewan first came into the spotlight as one of Janet Jackson’s backup dancers

Jenna Dewan and Channing Tatum
Actors Channing Tatum (L) and Jenna Dewan Tatum attend the 19th Annual Hollywood Film Awards. | Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Hollywood is filled with celebrity stories of people who came from working under other famous people to becoming major stars themselves. Mindy Kaling interned for Conan O’Brien and even wrote and starred in a film with the same name as the host’s famous show, Late Night With Conan O’Brien.

The dancer first appeared in the singer’s ‘Doesn’t Really Matter’ music video in 2000 and followed it up with appearances in ‘All For You’ and the subsequent tour. Dewan spoke to Billboard, saying that she became obsessed with working for the star in high school, crediting the singer for her career.

Dewan is a major star, today having gotten her breakthrough in the Step Up franchise alongside her ex-husband Channing Tatum. When the actor came to Los Angeles from Hartford as a teenager, her first significant job was dancing for Janet Jackson.

Speaking of what Jackson looks for in dancers, Dewan said: “She likes personalities, you know? When you watch her tours, her dancers all stand out. A lot of times with artists, it’s the opposite; they want the dancers to blend in — to make the singer look better. Janet is the opposite. She wants unique personalities—she’s very clear about that.”

Dewan also danced for Kelly Clarkson

Jackson isn’t the only star Dewan spoke highly of. In 2019, Dewan shared a throwback photo on Twitter of her dancing in the background for none other than Clarkson. She captioned the photo: “tbt to dancing w/ @kelly_clarkson at Walmart parking lot in TX … I will never forget quick changing in the break room amongst employees & running through aisles to make it back on stage in time. To this day, Kelly is one of the nicest and best I have met in the business.”

The photo sent fans into a frenzy, and many seemed to enjoy the sweet exchange between Clarkson and Dewan. Clarkson retweeted the photo, writing, “Yes!! What a throwback?! My dream is still to dance as well as you ha! A girl can dream,” ending the sentence with a laughing emoji. The throwback even had Walmart chiming in the wittiest way possible, inviting the ladies back.

The two first met when Clarkson, freshly crowned as the American Idol winner, was doing promotional appearances singing her first single after the show in the retailer’s parking lot. The two ladies had a charming reunion on Clarkson’s talk show The Kelly Clarkson Show and reminisced about their time working together.

Jenna Dewan has worked as a backup dancer for several other artists

Clarkson and Jackson weren’t the only stars to experience the magic that Dewan brought on stage with her moves. According to Best Life, the dancer lent her talents to other artists — including Pink, Justin Timberlake, and Missy Elliott, before becoming a major movie star with the hit show Step Up.

Since her dancing days, Dewan has been busy in Hollywood, starring in movies and TV shows. The star has appeared in American Virgin, 10 Years, American Horror Story: Asylum, and had a lead role in Witches of East End playing Freya Beauchamp. In 2015, she joined the cast of Supergirl playing Lois Lane’s sister Lucy.

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