The 52-year-old model shared that DWTS had been “chasing” him to be a cast member for quite some time now, but his work schedule and a knee injury prevented him from saying yes. This time around, though, he said the timing “was just impeccable.”
“I’ve always been one who wants to do different things so that’s why my career has expanded into such different genres of work,” Beckford told Blavity’s Shadow and Act.
Beckford said he was particularly a big fan of Iman Shumpert, who won DWTS‘ 30th season.
“Honestly, I’ve never watched the show. I’ve seen clips, and I knew who won last year ’cause I’m a fan of Iman. And I was just like, ‘If that big man can move like that, I can definitely get up [there],'” he said about Shumpert’s time on the show. “So I’m kind of like following in his big footsteps, ’cause they are some big shoes to fill.”
Beckford credits his dance partner Jenna Johnson, a So You Think You Can Dance alumna.
“When you get in there with your partner and your partner is someone like Jenna, she makes me work,” Beckford said. “This woman is life-changing, you know, as far as how we work together. We bonded the first day and it’s so many things we bond on. We just have great conversation. I feel like I’ve known her my whole, you know? And you want that in a partner.”
Beckford said DWTS‘ male pro dancers have also been helping along the way because everyone roots for each other even though it’s a competition, which he appreciates.
“Who’s been helping me the most is Sal and Brandon,” he said. “Everyone is super helpful…no one wants to see you lose. No one wants to see you go out there and not accomplish the moves because, at the end of the day, this is all to promote ballroom dancing. Hopefully, somebody will see this and be like, ‘Man I’m inspired by that.'”
Beckford’s time on DWTS has also inspired his brother, Leon, who is now taking dance lessons.
“I can’t wait to see my brother and my sister-in-law get out there dancing,” he said.
Beckford wants fans to know that he always considered himself a dancer as someone who grew up between New York City and Jamaica.
“There’s a lot of street dancers and you look at that and…I like to dance, but you know, this Ballroom [dancing] is something different. I’ve never done it,” he said. “I’m good at hiding my emotions when it comes to my nerves, but every show I get nervous. I’m not as bad as the very first show.”
As Beckford geared up for this week’s Motown Night theme, he talked about how important it is for him to represent his roots. Part of accomplishing this goal starts with the music selection. This led to him spilling some of the artists that viewers will hear during his upcoming routine.
“We did my late great friend Luther Vandross to start off. So, a lot of the artists that I pick are Black artists I grew up with or they’re Latino artists like Willie Colón and Hector Levoe,” he said. “So, this week I’ve got Stevie Wonder’s ‘Master Blaster,’ which connects to my Jamaican roots…it’s tough doing the foxtrot, which I’m doing. ‘Master Blaster’ is a very fast song so my foxtrot has to be fast.”
Although this is just the third week of the competition, Beckford has a newfound joy in dancing and a sense of pride in performing a new routine every week.
“I’ve done a lot of stuff in my career, but I’ve never done anything like this. This is the most fun I’ve ever had on TV,” he said. “I don’t want to go home. I want to stay here as long as I can and as long as the fans want me there.”
To keep up with Beckford’s dance moves, tune into Dancing With the Stars on Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC and Disney+ or stream it the next day on Hulu.