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Dancing with Marla Maples

The emotional reason the Broadway vet decided now is her time to shine

Last night, Marla Maples took the Dancing with the Stars stage to quickstep with partner Tony Dovolani on the premiere of the competition’s 22nd season. After nailing her number and ending with a cartwheel, she proved that her talents extend beyond her notoriety as Donald Trump’s ex-wife. Maples has never been a stranger to performing, having taken the stage on Broadway and as a host at both the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants. Even so, she hesitated to join the DWTS cast multiple times in the past—until now. Here, she tells DuJour how she prepped for her debut dance and why there was no better time than now for her to finally take the stage.

How did you prepare for the competition? 

You know, it’s one thing when you have your normal routine at home that you do before you go out in the day, but the [training] schedule seems to change most every day and you just have to be prepared. It’s really funny watching everyone—everyone watches me try to scramble because I eat organic and I’m 90% vegan. Tony is my partner who is amazing. It is his 21st season here and he’s such a true champ in heart and soul. He’s like, “More meat! You have to eat more meat! More protein!” I’m like, “Okay, now I’m a vegan carnivore.”

So how much have you been training? 

They try to limit us to six days a week, but that doesn’t mean on the seventh I’m not going to be doing something on my own to make sure I can still remember this routine and keep it in me. That’s my biggest fear is getting there and forgetting the routine. So we have been rehearsing about four hours a day and then doing a lot of press. It’s a lot of interviews. I didn’t realize it was so much. We had cameras on us during each rehearsal. It’s a little more like reality television than I had thought it would be.

Was the whole cast together during training? 

We were together on Good Morning America when we made the announcement and we’re all training in the same area now in Hollywood. It is really fun being able to pass each other in the halls. I find that the professional dancers are so kind to help each person. I’m working with Tony, but there are certain movements that only one of the female dancers could really show me in a way that I can really get. I see how everyone is really helping each other even though it’s a competition. Everyone wants everyone to do well.

What made you decide to do Dancing with the Stars now? 

[I was] was terrified to say yes to the show for so many years. Finally this year I was able to say, “Okay, I’m ready to overcome the fears. Step forward, you’re 52 years old now. Live life. Live beyond your fears. Get out there and know that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.” I think when my agent asked me to do a call with the producers this time—I will be honest, my mother died. This was my mother’s favorite show. And my best friend loved it also. They both died two years ago within the same month. I just feel like they are giving me the courage to do things that I didn’t have before. It’s really powerful. I feel them a lot with me. Whenever I get nervous I ask for their support and I feel this warmth and I can do it.