Season 21 of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars kicks off on September 14, 2015 at 8pm ET/PT with a married couple, an Oscar nominee, a couple of musicians, and a true American hero as the celebrity dancers. The cast of this season, which was revealed on Good Morning America, will find the following talented dancers teaming up with celebrity wannabe dancers:
Alek Skarlatos partnered with Lindsay Arnold
Alexa PenaVega partnered with Mark Ballas
Andy Grammer partnered with Allison Holker
Bindi Irwin partnered with Derek Hough
Carlos PenaVega partnered with Witney Carson
Chaka Khan partnered with Keo Motsepe
Gary Busey partnered with Anna Trebunskaya
Hayes Grier partnered with Emma Slater
Kim Zolciak Biermann partnered with Tony Dovolani
Nick Carter partnered with Sharna Burgess
Paula Deen partnered with Louis van Amstel
Tamar Braxton partnered with Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Victor Espinoza partnered with Karina Smirnoff
ALEK SKARLATOS – Alek is an Army National Guard Specialist from Sacramento, CA. Alek and his two childhood friends, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler, made headlines around the world on August 2015 when they heroically overpowered a man that opened fire on a train from Amsterdam to Paris. This true American hero was recently awarded France’s highest honor by President François Hollande. Alek is partnered with Lindsay Arnold.
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ALEXA PENAVEGA – Alexa is known worldwide for her role as Carmen Cortez in four blockbuster Spy Kids films, as well as Machette Kills and From Prada to Nada. PenaVega made her Broadway debut in 2007 when she played Penny Pingleton in the Tony Award winning Broadway version of Hairspray. Fans of the ABC hit drama Nashville also know her for her turn as Kiley Brenner. Alexa is married to actor/singer Carlos PenaVega, who will also compete in Season 21 of Dancing with the Stars. Alexa is partnered with Mark Ballas.
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ANDY GRAMMER – Los Angeles-born, New York-raised pop star Andy Grammer has gone from hustling street performer on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade to platinum-selling recording artist. With his 2011 self-titled debut album, Andy became the first male pop star in a decade, since John Mayer in 2002, to reach the Top 10 at Adult Pop Radio on his first two singles, “Keep Your Head Up” and “Fine By Me,” certified platinum and gold respectively. Andy’s second album, 2014’s critically acclaimed Magazines or Novels, continues his disarming success with his huge hit “Honey, I’m Good.” Over the course of the last year, Andy’s double platinum-selling song became ubiquitous, topping sales, hitting #1 on adult pop radio for the first time and top 10 across 3 radio formats, garnering over 70 million views on YouTube and 60 million streams on Spotify, broadcasting on national TV everywhere and most recently became a country collaboration with Eli Young Band.
The euphoria of the year’s successes sparked an undeniable new emotion for the artist, so on a short stop in Los Angeles recently, Andy swiftly penned a new gem “Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah).” The song was just released on iTunes. “Life has so many ups and downs and this is about that pure bliss you feel when things are finally going your way,” explains Grammer. “The lyrics ‘good to be alive right about now’ convey something that I think anyone who’s felt like they had a breakthrough can relate to.” Andy is partnered with Allison Holker.
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BINDI IRWIN – The 17 year-old Australian has continued the legacy of her parents, Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin and Terri Irwin, starring in a series of wildlife shows, including Bindi: The Jungle Girl, Bindi’s Bootcamp, and Steve Irwin’s Wildlife Warriors. As an actress, Bindi starred in the films Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove and Return to Nim’s Island. In 2014, Bindi was awarded the prestigious Australian Geographic Society’s Young Conservationist of the Year, an honor that she dedicated to her late father, Steve Irwin. Bindi is partnered with Derek Hough.
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CARLOS PENAVEGA – Actor/singer Carlos PenaVega shot to fame and cult status after starring on the highly successful Nickelodeon musical comedy Big Time Rush as Carlos Garcia, which also took to the road and toured with the ensemble cast around the globe. Having studied musical theater at the Boston Conservatory, Carlos recently released his first solo single in Spanish, “Electrico,” which charted in the Top 10 on the Latin iTunes songs charts. Carlos is married to actress Alex PenaVega, who will also compete in Season 21 of Dancing with the Stars. Carlos is partnered with Witney Carson.
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CHAKA KHAN – Chaka is an international music icon who has influenced multiple generations of artists and continues to do so as a singer, songwriter, producer, visual artist, author, actor, philanthropist, entrepreneur, activist and mother. A ten-time Grammy® Award winner who has the rare ability to sing in eight music genres, Chaka has released 22 albums and racked up ten #1 Billboard magazine charted songs. She is currently at work on a series of mixed media visual works with a planned gallery exhibition in 2016, as well as a new CD, set for release later in 2015. Chaka is partnered with Keo Motsepe.
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GARY BUSEY – Gary celebrates his 45th anniversary in show business during 2015. Gary rose to fame in Hollywood when he became an Academy Award® nominee for ‘Best Actor’ for his performance in the title role of Buddy Holly in The Buddy Holly Story. His other feature film credits include memorable roles in The Firm, Under Siege, Point Break, Big Wednesday, Straight Time, and Lethal Weapon.
Gary became a household name and ratings sensation with TV audiences, too, in Celebrity Wife Swap, Celebrity Apprentice, and All Star Celebrity Apprentice. His other memorable TV roles of note are his multiple appearances on HBO’s Entourage as well as a recurring role on the hit syndicated sit-com, Mr. Box Office. He also had a special guest-star role on Two and a Half Men when he played himself. Additionally, Gary became the first American to win Celebrity Big Brother U.K. in 2014.
Gary can also be seen in his comical TV commercials for Amazon as well as Entourage: The Movie and in his starring role in the upcoming critically acclaimed feature film, CANDiLAND. Gary is partnered with Anna Trebunskaya.
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HAYES GRIER – At just 15 years old, Hayes Grier is a rising star in the social media world, with more than 3.5 million followers on Vine and more than 2 million Twitter follows. The North Carolina teen shot to fame with his personal videos and is currently on a live tour across the United States. Hayes is partnered with Emma Slater.
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KIM ZOLCIAK BIERMANN – Known for her blonde wigs, catchy pop songs and her vivacious personality, Kim Zolciak is also the mother of Brielle, Ariana, KJ, Kash Kade, Kaia and Kane. Her socialite status amongst Atlanta’s elite snagged her the reality spot on Bravo’s hit show, Real Housewives of Atlanta. After meeting NFL Falcons player Kroy Biermann in 2010 at a charity event, Kim fell in love and the two began a whirlwind romance. The Zolciak-Biermann family lives in their dream home in the Alpharetta, GA.
Kim’s ambitions are as big as her blonde hair. As chronicled on the first season of Housewives, Kim began pursuing her music career in 2009. Her debut single, “Tardy for the Party,” reached the number three spot on iTunes. The hit was produced alongside fellow housewife, Grammy Award winning artist Kandi Burruss. In 2012, Kim released her second single “Google Me.”
In April 2012, Kim’s spin off Don’t be Tardy for the Wedding, debuted on Bravo. The series revolved around Kim’s extravagant wedding and was a huge hit for Bravo, currently on air for its 4Th season. Kim is partnered with Tony Dovolani.
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NICK CARTER – The singer, songwriter and actor sparked his career at the tender age of 12 as the youngest member of the iconic boy band Backstreet Boys. Since taking the world by storm in 1995, the band has sold over 130 million records worldwide and has earned five Grammy® nominations, countless awards, and an honorary star on the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame. As a standout member of the Backstreet Boys, Carter was named one of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World.” In 2002, Nick released his debut solo album Now or Never and released his second solo album, “I’m Taking Off,” in 2012. In 2014, Nick and longtime girlfriend Lauren Kitt made their TV debut as a couple in the VH1 reality series, I Heart Nick Carter. Nick is partnered with Sharna Burgess.
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PAULA DEEN – Paula was living the American dream—married to her high school sweetheart, raising two adorable boys when tragedy struck. Her parents died, her marriage failed and she began a prolonged battle with agoraphobia. With her boys in their teens and her family near homelessness, Paula took her last $200, reached deep inside her soul and started “The Bag Lady,” a home-based catering company that marked the start of Deen’s professional cooking. With sons Jamie and Bobby delivering “lunch-and-love-in-a-bag,” beginning in June 1989, Paula turned around her life by sharing what she knew best, traditional Southern cooking.
Overcoming poverty, self-doubt and health challenges to achieve success and acclaim, Paula has become one of the best-known personalities in the world of cooking. Yet the most remarkable part of Paula Deen’s journey from her kitchen to fame is that Paula has remained every bit as genuine, real and full of love as she was the day the first meals left her kitchen.
She moved her catering company to a small restaurant at a Best Western motel in Savannah and finally opened her first restaurant, The Lady and Sons, with Bobby and Jamie five years later. The restaurant was a hit and the popularity of Paula and her cooking led to her first cookbook, 1998’s The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook. This gave her fans the opportunity to try Paula’s recipes at home, and led to her first television appearance on QVC. Paula’s genuine warmth and folksy personality made her a natural for television. In 1999, USA Today food critic Jerry Shriver named The Lady and Sons “International Meal of the Year.”
In 2014, Paula launched her nationwide live tour, Paula Deen Live!, and her own digital lifestyle network, the Paula Deen Network where each day, Paula provides viewers with cooking tips, new recipes and step-by-step instruction on how to cook her signature Southern dishes in an unscripted format.
In 2015, Paula launched her first free mobile game, “Paula Deen’s Recipe Quest,” premiered her first show on EVINE Live, launched her podcast and radio show, and opened her new restaurant, Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen. On September 8, 2015, Paula will release her new cookbook, Paula Deen Cutsthe Fat: 250 Favorite Recipes All Lightened Up.
Ever grateful for all she has been blessed with, Paula and her family continue to give back to the community. Paula, a board member of the Bethesda Home for Boys, also works tirelessly for America’s Second Harvest. In 2012, Paula launched The Bag Lady Foundation, supporting issues of hunger that affect women and families across the country. Paula is partnered with Louis van Amstel.
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TAMAR BRAXTON – Tamar Braxton is a Grammy® nominated singer, reality TV personality, and talk show host. A veteran performer who began singing backup vocals for her older sister Toni at age 12, Tamar was also a founding member of R&B group The Braxtons with Toni and their siblings Traci, Towanda and Trina. She is married to music executive Vince Herbert, the couple welcomed their first child, a baby boy, in June 2013.
Tamar executive produces and stars in the WE TV reality hit Braxton Family Values, currently in its 4th season. Originally created and spearheaded by Tamar and sisters, the show soared as the cable network’s highest-rated television show. She is also co-host and producer of FOX-TV’s The Real, now going into its 2nd season. Tamar reveals, “The Real is one of the best things to ever happen to me. I get to chat with a group of women and its feels like happy hour in the middle of the day.”
Tamar’s third studio LP, Calling All Lovers, is due September 11 on Epic/Streamline Records. Tamar is partnered with Val Chmerkovskiy.
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VICTOR ESPINOZA – After coming close twice, Victor earned the famous Triple Crown earlier this year, winning the Kentucky Derby, The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes aboard speedy American Pharoah. It was the first time in 37 years the feat had been accomplished. The first Hispanic jockey to ever win the Triple Crown, Victor has won over 3000 races in his career and donates 10% of his weekly winnings to The City of Hope for childhood cancer research. Before becoming a jockey, Victor drove a city bus in Mexico and says, “It’s a lot easier riding horses than driving in that traffic in Mexico City.” Victor is partnered with Karina Smirnoff.
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