Laurie Hernandez has been killing it on “Dancing with the Stars” week after week and it finally paid off. This week, she and her partner, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, earned the first perfect score for this season. The duo, who are favored to win it all, rocked out to Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” and it was EVERYTHING. Here is how they wowed the judges, and the crowd, to earn the title of first perfect score for season 23.
Their lifts were on point!
CREDIT: Dancing with the Stars / YouTube
Meanwhile, we can barely get out bed without falling over.
There were also some expert leaps of faith.
CREDIT: Dancing with the Stars / YouTube
And despite her partner’s experience as a dancer, Hernandez totally stole the show.
In it, Machado covers everything from her lengthy career, to the sad state of Latinx representation in Hollywood, to the offensive phone call she had with a tone-deaf TV exec in the ’90s.
Finally, after almost 25 years of hard work in Hollywood, Machado is dominating America’s Monday nights with two high-profile gigs: a spot on “Dancing With the Stars” and the return of “One Day At a Time” to CBS after it was unceremoniously dropped by Netflix.
Naturally, with so much on her plate, the Puerto Rican actress in not only mentally, but physically exhausted. After all, “Dancing With the Stars” is notorious for its grueling practice and shoot schedules. “Every day when I come home, my routine is dunking my feet in [an ice bath],” she told the LA Times. “The first week and a half of rehearsals, forget about it–I was crying.”
But Machado is glad that she took the DWTS opportunity for what it means in terms of Latinx representation on network television.
“The thing about ‘Dancing With the Stars’ is it reaches so many more homes than [‘One Day at a Time’]…,” she told the publication. “I know they’ve had Latinas on the show, but they need a whole lot more. And so I was like, ‘I’m going to do that. I’m going to be that Puerto Rican woman that’s on that show.’”
Throughout the interview, Machado gets candid about what it’s like to be a Latina in the American entertainment industry–which is an unforgiving business.
She described the beginning of her career as plagued by insecurity. Before she began a professional acting career, Machado was convinced she couldn’t make it as an actor because professional acting “wasn’t a part of [her] world.” “Nobody was an actor in Chicago that I knew, in my neighborhood, in the inner city of Chicago,” she explained.
After she finally established her footing in Hollywood, she was then met with further doors slammed in her face in the form of racism and anti-Latino sentiment.
Like when an executive called her to tell her why her TV show wasn’t moving forward, back in the ’90s.
“He literally called my house, nice man… and said, ‘My God, your pilot is so great. Everybody loves you, everybody. But we don’t think America is ready for a Latino family.’”
What’s depressing about this story is that Latino representation onscreen still hasn’t gotten much better over 20 years later. But Machado is hopeful that the tides of change are turning
“That was acceptable for him to say…Like, what? And that was the ’90s! And look at today. How many Latino families do you see on television? So America better get ready because we’re here. We’re here.” We know that if Machado has anything to do with the future of TV, we’ll be seeing Latino families more and more often.
It’s a well-known fact that the world of gymnastics can be particularly grueling. Gymnasts are often subjected to long hours of intense workouts, immense pressure to compete, and the high likelihood of sustaining injuries. It’s all part of the sport and what makes elite gymnasts like Laurie Hernandez so inspiring.
What women like Hernandez, do not sign up for however is the culture of abuse pervasive in the gymnastics world. Recently, USA Gymnastics has seen a period of years in which instances of abuse have come to light. In 2018, in fact, Lawrence Gerard Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics national team doctor and osteopathic physician, was sentenced to prison for his sexual abuse of minors who were gymnasts and patients of his. As part of his conviction, many gymnasts were quick to point out that the toxic and abusive nature of certain coaches allowed such abuse to happen. As it turns out while Hernandez never came forward to make a claim against Nassar she has recently made one about her gymnastics coach.
Maggie Haney, a gymnastics coach who trained Hernandez during the 2016 Olympics, has been suspended by USA Gymnastics.
USA Gymnastics decided that she would be suspected for a period of eight years for her part in verbal and emotional abuse of athletes. According to reports, once the suspension period is over Haney will be permitted to reapply for membership.
“The independent hearing panel — comprised of three members of the gymnastics community, including an attorney, a club owner, and a former national team athlete — found that Ms. Haney violated the USA Gymnastics Code of Ethical Conduct, Safe Sport Policy, and other policies,” the organization told People.com in a statement.
Hernandez spoke out about the abuse in an Instagram post shared to her page.
Hernandez, who won a gold and a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, testified against Haney throughout a series of months of hearings which involved other gymnasts who trained under Haney.