Former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Melissa Rycroft became widely known after competing on the 13th season of ABC's The Bachelor and going on to two seasons of Dancing With the Stars. She qualifies as a celebrity. And yet, after finding fame and fortune outside of Dallas, she has jumped at the chance to return to her hometown.
Rycroft began dancing at a young age at the urging of her mother. She attended Newman Smith High School in Carrollton and graduated with a bachelor's in marketing from the University of North Texas.
Today she's the host of CW's new local morning show, the Morning Dose. She's also a recurring judge on CMT's show about her former team, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.
The Dallas Observer recently emailed with Rycroft about growing up in DFW, and balancing her weird new work schedule with motherhood.
I know you were born and raised in the Dallas area. Can you tell us a little about your experiences as a true native?
Dallas is my home. I have had opportunities to relocate for work, and we tried on several occasions. Dallas has always been home to me and my husband, Tye. His parents and mine also live in the area. Being elsewhere we felt something was always missing and we found ourselves continually coming back.
How did you get your start dancing?
My mother always wanted to be a dancer and never got the opportunity to fulfill that dream. So, she put me in dance classes at a very young age. I am one of those individuals living out their parent’s dreams. Over time I fell in love with dance, and it was a natural fit because it allows me to express myself. My career in dance started off with my mother encouraging me to pursue it, but it turned out to be something that I wanted to continue to do.
Can you share with us a memorable experience you had as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader?
Being able to set foot on the football field for the very first time in uniform. It is such a process to become a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, from the audition to the three-month training camp. There are so many elements you have — the crowd, techno, pyro — and you have the players behind you. Overall it is an exciting experience.
You have been a part of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team on CMT. How different is the process compared to what we see on television?
Television has opened audience eyes around the world that this team is not just pretty dancers. They are put through a rigorous schedule and must be well rounded. As much as the show offers some insight into the program, having to participate in the process is a lot more difficult. The participants are in their late teens and early 20s and have never experienced anything like this. A lot of them have relocated from their homes and you are tackling employment, school and practice. It is a demanding schedule and can get overwhelming at times, and I feel the show has done a great job of showcasing it. However, there really is no way to capture what the struggle is like trying to make the team. Those three months are very crucial and can be brutal.
How do you balance your family life with your career as a host of the CW’s Morning Dose?
My life is constantly changing, and we are always trying to incorporate a new balance. Just when I feel that things are starting to become routine, life throws you a curveball. At this point of my life, I feel the stars have aligned and everything is functioning perfectly. My current work schedule might not be suitable for everyone. I am up at 3 a.m. every morning and arrive at work by 3:30. The great point about it for me is I am done by 8 am. So, I can come home and be around my children all day. In terms of me getting the opportunity to do something that I enjoy for work and not missing any family time, this is a schedule that works for me and is something I did not know existed until now.
How did you become a contestant on Dancing with the Stars?
That was honestly completely by accident. My season on the Bachelor had just finished airing on ABC. The way the schedule works on ABC, once the The Bachelor concludes, the following week is usually the premiere of Dancing with the Stars. During that week, one of the contestants developed an injury and they needed a last-minute replacement. So, with the controversy that came from the season finale of The Bachelor, ABC wanted to build on that momentum on the new season of Dancing with the Stars. They called me and the rest is history, but if the timing had been different things would be very different.
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What was it like to go through all the elimination rounds?
Completely nerve racking. And for television, of course, they need dramatics — but for us, it is the exact opposite. When the lights go down and you are in the red lights it’s hard because you are trying to figure out if you will be going home. Being able to participate on Dancing with the Stars was a great opportunity and a terrific experience. This was something that I never thought I would be a part of, and I did not want to be eliminated.
As the winner of season 15 of Dancing with the Stars have you thought about opening your own dance studio?
I have thought about it, but with the schedule I’m currently on, the timing is not right. It is something that I would love to explore, as I grew up in a dance studio. If the opportunity presented itself I would, but time-wise it is just not feasible.
You wrote your first book in 2012. Do you plan on writing another one?
I would love to write another book. My first book ended at the birth of my daughter and that was six years ago. I think it would be great from a different perspective, especially now because back then I was single with no kids. Now I am married with a career and three kids. So, absolutely I would be interested in writing another book.
What else are you doing this year?
Right now, it’s The Morning Dose and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.