“Dancing with the Stars” Judge Carrie Ann Inaba is blogging exclusively for Access Hollywood for Season 22 of her hit ABC show. Here is her final blog of the season:
I am still buzzing with excitement from last night’s season finale. Crowning Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd as our Season 22 Mirrorball Champions was really something special! There were tears everywhere!!! All three finalists this year were incredible, and trying to figure out who was going to take the mirror ball trophy was nearly impossible. But truth be told, Season 22 has been my favorite season of DWTS hands down. There were so many challenging and rewarding moments, like the Judge’s Choice round, but for me the highlight of the season was the warmth and love I received after signing last night to Nyle DiMarco.
Since Nyle started the show, I had wanted to sign to him. I have known the ASL alphabet since I was young. In fact, I often sign the alphabet to myself when I’m nervous or excited. I like the way it feels as I do it. It’s like dancing without using your whole body. So I can dance away my fears so to speak even without anyone noticing. But since day one, I wanted to sign to him, but I was concerned that it might not be appropriate, that it would slow down the judges comments, that it would take away attention from Nyle and treating him equally and fairly, so I didn’t.
I couldn’t let go of the idea though, so I started learning in my own time. First, I learned how to sign his name. Eventually I decided that if Nyle made it to the finals, I would sign to him then. But when the finals came on Monday night, it just didn’t feel quite right, and his Sound of Silence Freestyle was so incredible that I actually had too much to say about it and needed to use my words to express it all.
Last night, I decided I wanted to honor him and learn enough sign language to communicate in his language after watching him learn to dance and express himself so well in my own language of dance. And thanks to Marlee Matlin and Jack Jason ( her interpreter), I was able to learn just enough to communicate my basic thoughts to Nyle in his own language. It was a profound moment. And as everyone saw, I was nervous and had to start again. I also missed the word, “beautiful” or as Nyle would say, “BEYOUTIFUL,” but I was able to connect with him directly. That moment is something I will never forget. I did not expect such an emotional response from Nyle and Peta, nor did I expect the outpouring of love and kind words I received on social media. I’m tremendously humbled and extremely grateful. I have been reminded that it’s important not only for ourselves to take chances, to do things that are not our “norm,” but also it is important because of how our actions also affect those around us.
So today for my final blog of Season 22. I wanted to write an open letter to anyone who wants to try something new, which is the heart of what Dancing With the Stars is all about.
To Anyone Who Wants to Try something New but is Afraid;
To all of you who have a desire, a dream, or a daring thought of doing something you have never done before, of trying something you wish you had done many years ago and may be afraid you are too old to do now.
To those of you who feel a tug in your heart when you watch someone dancing, singing, painting, volunteering, or reaching out to help when no one else will, because deep in your heart, you want to be that person…
To the shy souls that want to say hello to a neighbor they always see but have never learned his/her name, or to the successful business people who really just want to start their own small business and simplify their lives,
I offer you this: Life is a journey, your personal journey.
It is yours to explore your heart’s desires and your most secret dreams.
If you listen to the whispers of your heart, even if you think people may laugh or judge you, you will find yourself satisfied and you will give yourself joy.
For life is about growth and expanding, exploring the unknown, and pursuing your own bliss.
Start small, or go for it all.
But I urge you all to dare to live the life you want to live.
And maybe even one day, we will see you on Dancing with the Stars.
Have a beautiful summer and I hope to see you soon.
To all the Season 22 contestants, thank you for daring to dance with us. Your courage has inspired us all. I hope you have enjoyed and have been enriched by the journey. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with you all, and to do something I love. Spread love wherever you can and I’ll see you next season! xoxo
— Carrie Ann Inaba
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