Benji Schwimmer of So You Think You Can Dance

Books for Reality TV Fans
Are you a bookworm who enjoys reality TV or the entertainment industry? Then hurry over and add these bargain books to your summer reading list as each novel has a plot thread relating to reality TV or television in general. To celebrate the launch of this list, I hope you’ll enjoy the “reruns” I am showcasing of my June 2011 interviews with former contestants from the reality TV shows Survivor, Top Chef, Beauty and the Geek, Shark Tank, Bachelor Pad, I Love New York and Big Brother.
Benji Schwimmer

As part of our festivities, today we have a special hot off the press interview with Benji Schwimmer. Benji is a professional dancer, choreographer, and actor, who won the second season of So You Think You Can Dance. Crowned “America’s favorite dancer” at age 22, the West Coast swing won a $100,000 grand prize, a new car, and a one-year contract with Celine Dion’s Las Vegas show “A New Day.” (He later turned down the Celine Dion contract.) Benji has choreographed for both the U.S. and international versions of the show, and co-starred in the 2010 film Leading Ladies. He is known for his versatility in mixing the arts of solo dance and partnering. He works for the non-profit group, Dancers Everywhere Making a Needed Difference (D.E.M.A.N.D.), and is the songwriter, producer, and vocalist for pop-rock band, The Weekend Forecast, who are signed with Executive Music Group. Benji is also the brother of Lacey Schwimmer, a So You Think You Can Dance alumnus and former Dancing with the Stars professional who is currently a professional/celebrity dancer, singer, and costume designer.

This interview was conducted by Amanda Brice, the perfect person to interview Benji as she published a novel revolving around a fictional dance show. Amanda’s book, Codename: Dancer (The Dani Spevak Mystery Series), is like Nancy Drew in toe shoes when hit TV show Teen Celebrity Dance Off comes to the campus in this light-hearted tween mystery, a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® Award for Best Young Adult Romance. Read more about the book here.

Amanda:If you could boil down your experience on So You Think You Can Dance to one paragraph, what was your overall feeling about being on this show?
Benji: Awe inspiring. A truly blessed learning experience. A validation of hard work, blood, sweat and tears.

Amanda: How nerve-wracking was it to dance on TV in front of millions of viewers?
Benji: I felt no nerves performing/competing on the show. But it royally sucks when you watch yourself on TV afterward. I got really critical of EVERYTHING about me as a dancer and aesthetically.
Amanda: What was the best part about being on SYTYCD?
Benji: The best part was the ability to be a part of the modern day revival of dance in the media. I felt like I was at least a small part as to why it’s now cool to dance. I’d be a dancer with or without the exposure, but it sure broadened my horizons artistically and professionally.

Amanda: What advice would you give to someone who is considering applying for a reality show?
Benji: Get a therapist. And make sure you’re physical healthy.

Amanda: What else have you been up to lately?

Benji: I’m traveling the world over, competing and performing, choreographing and adjudicating in various mediums of dance. I also have been in a few films with my acting, and currently I’m producing/singing/writing an album with my band, Kingdom Theory. The hope is to make some sickeningly cool dance music videos. In my spare time, I focus a lot of my energies on equal rights for all and the prevention of suicide of at-risk teens.

Thanks so much to Amanda and Benji for bringing us this fun interview!

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  1. Fun interview! I think it is so wild that there were “no nerves” in performing, but nerves after the fact! And I love how Benji makes time to work on public interest issues.

    Thanks for the interview, Amanda!

  2. Love the interview, and I suspect the therapist and good health is necessary for surviving on reality TV. I love watching reality TV that revolves around physically challenging competitions, and this year when I watched The Biggest Loser, I really felt inspired to lose weight just by watching the contestants struggle down the same path. I’m sure you must have gone through the same thing, Benji – inspiring others to want to dance. All the grueling work and missteps give a real picture of what it takes to make it in a tough business. Thanks for taking the time to do the interview.

  3. Thanks so much, Amanda and Benji, for giving me the opportunity to post this wonderful interview. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to perform before the cameras, knowing all the people who are watching at home. It takes a lot of courage and hard work to put yourself out there. It is always so inspiring to see people following their dreams and doing what they love. Wishing you both lots of success in the future.

  4. Great post! I LOVE SYTYCD! Great job Amanda and thanks for posting Stacy!

  5. Thanks for the interview, Amanda and Benji-fun! I love dance shows as most of the time I can’t walk without stumbling over my own feet so I have to live vicariously.

  6. Thanks so much for taking the time from your busy schedule to be with us today, Benji. I loved watching you on SYTYCD all those years ago, so it’s nice to see what you’re up to these days. Kudos on all your great charity work.

    And you definitely are part of why it’s cool to dance these days, so I thank you for that. I’ve danced my entire life, so when I decided to write a mystery series, it was just natural to set it in the dance world. But when it came time to shop it around, my former agent couldn’t get a single bite. The editors all loved the writing but the premise seemed a bit out there to them. They didn’t think teens would be interested in a series about dancers. (Apparently only toddlers read dance books. What?!)

    But I knew they were wrong. And with the modern-day dance revival in the media (as you aptly called it), it just seemed like the perfect convergence. So I jumped on the chance to publish it independently, years after I originally wrote it. Because you’re right — it IS cool to dance again.

    So thank you!

Stacy Juba