Why ‘GMA’ Star Ginger Zee Thought Val Chmerkovskiy Was the ‘Last Person’ She Would Get As Her ‘DWTS’ Partner
Meteorologist Ginger Zee has a full plate on Good Morning America each weekday. Married with two young sons, Zee appeared in season 22 of Dancing With the Stars shortly after the birth of her first child, Adrian. Zee was stunned when she learned she was being paired with pro dancer Val Chmerkovskiy.
‘DWTS’ star Val Chmerkovskiy was usually paired with the ‘cool chick’
Zee made her ballroom debut in March 2016 on Dancing With the Stars, just six weeks after delivering her newborn son. Becoming a mother gave Zee a newfound confidence when she joined the competition.
“The producers did a great job at keeping my partner a secret from me,” Zee wrote in her 2017 book Natural Disaster: I Cover Them. I am One. “I was still carrying a considerable amount of pregnancy weight and hardly felt like myself, but it’s amazing what becoming a mother does to your self esteem. It makes you feel like a superhuman.”
Even with that “superhuman” vibe, Zee was stunned when she met her partner for the season. The GMA star considered him a bit out of her league.
“When I walked in and saw Val standing behind the curtain, I nearly fell to my knees,” Zee remarked. “He was the last person I thought they would give me for a partner. He usually got the tough, cool chick with attitude. I was the furthest from that.”
‘GMA’s’ Ginger Zee commended ‘DWTS’ pro Val Chmerkovskiy as a teacher
With rehearsals four to seven hours each day to prep for the DWTS competition, Zee developed a solid friendship with Chmerkovskiy. The GMA meteorologist revealed that he is a man of many talents.
“What most people see on TV is a hot guy with his shirt off,” she wrote of her dance partner. “What I am here to tell you is, he is ferociously talented well beyond his dancing ability. He is a poet, a rapper, a violinist, and a creative force who loves inspiring young people and giving back to the community.”
Zee described how the DWTS star was completely dedicated to the training process and how seriously he took his role as teacher.
“As awesome as he is, he has a distinct style of teaching that I am not sure I could have handled at any other point in my life,” Zee admitted. “Val and I were always buddies off the dance floor, but the moment I stepped on that floor I had to be ready to work.”
‘DWTS’ pro Val Chmerkovskiy gave Ginger Zee high praise
The GMA star shared that Chmerkovskiy was a tough teacher, but she knew his tactics were to push her in the right direction.
“I am obsessed with commitment, so our dynamic was harmonious,” Zee explained. “If you are lucky enough to get Val as your partner, you better know how to take criticism and not break under pressure.”
Chmerkovskiy gave Zee high marks for her talent and work ethic, noting that he would have even considered taking their relationship beyond the dance floor if they had crossed paths at earlier in life.
“I knew immediately that I had a partner who was very much an adult,” he said of Zee in his 2018 book I’ll Never Change My Name: An Immigrant’s American Dream from Ukraine to the USA to Dancing with the Stars. “She was one of the coolest people I had ever met. If we had met ten years earlier, in a different life and in different circumstances, I would have probably married her. As it was, we developed a great friendship that never once strayed into the romantic.”
Zee and Chmerkovskiy finished season 22 of DWTS as finalists, with the Mirrorball trophy going to Nyle DiMarco and his partner Peta Murgatroyd.