As we approach season 20’s May finale, who’s your competition?
Nastia Liukin and Riker Lynch. The three of us have flip-flopped at the top of the leader board. They bring it every week, but I want to win!
You’ve said you signed on for DWTS to learn to dance. What has surprised you about the show?
I have been blown away by people who have said, “Thank you for sharing your story and being such a role model.” A role model! That feels great. There aren’t enough people out there saying what I’m saying: You don’t have to change to be successful, to be beautiful. Just be you. If the energy you put out there is “I’m not enough,” no one will see you as enough. You have to walk into a room like, “I have so much to offer.”
Why is it important for you to spread that message?
People are doing such emotional damage and breeding negativity online - especially among women. We have it hard enough as it is, so we might as well try to band together! I was talking with Scout the other day about how she got kicked off Instagram. There was such a controversy about whether or not you can show nipples, but people can literally say, “You’re a piece of f-king garbage” - someone actually wrote that to me. You can report them, and I have a couple of times, just to see what would happen. (Moderators) have said, “We see no reason to ban the commenter.” You can be verbally abusive to someone and that’s less offensive than showing breasts!
When did you start dealing with nasty comments?
Growing up, I was kind of a nerd. I had a hard time connecting with my peers. I was very much bullied my entire life. I was just so insecure with who I was that I kept trying to change myself to fit into what I thought everyone wanted. When social media started to boom, I was 14 or 15. Every time I went out in public and was photographed, people had something to say about how I looked. The worst things I read were that I looked like a man, or simply that I was ugly. Any time I looked good, a story would say I had plastic surgery. Because God forbid I just looked good being me!
Could you try to ignore the bullying on the internet?
You look at an article and go down a rabbit hole, and then you’re looking at comments - it’s a slippery slope. If you read 10 great things and one negative, you focus on the negative.
What advice did your parents give?
I didn’t share with my family how much I was hurting. I didn’t know how to ask for help. My mom would sometimes see what was happening and her advice was, “Don’t let that infect you. People are going to have opinions. You don’t have to make them yours.”
Meanwhile, your mom was a movie star. Did you feel pressure to look a certain way?
I compared myself to her. I would go, “My mom wears smaller jeans than me! Oh, God. Maybe I’m not skinny enough.” Every girl looks up to her mother, but my mom was larger-than-life and I felt I could never be like her. I just didn’t feel like we were even the same caliber.
Do you think living outside Hollywood helped?
Yeah. I’m really thankful I had my sisters to lean on. They are my best friends. We have this energy when we get together and I can’t recreate that with anyone else. We can finish each other’s sentences. And there are things I’ll tell them that I wouldn’t tell anyone else because they wouldn’t understand.
Tell Us about the Willis kids!
We would sing and dance and put on shows. We used to dress up like the Spice Girls. We have videos of us doing their dances. I was Scary Spice because I have curly hair. It’s funny: No one wanted to be Posh. Who knew she would end up being the most famous?
Did you ever go on movie sets with your parents?
I loved being with my dad when he was doing (the 1997 sci-fi film) The Fifth Element. I remember being in the hair and makeup trailer, in awe. It impacted my imagination. Seeing people who had an outlet for creativity was one thing that made me want to become an actor.
Do you remember the day your parents told you about their split?
No, I was only 10. But they made such an effort to make sure we never had to choose a parent. We lived primarily with my mom and we’d travel with my dad. But all the family vacations, birthdays - we were all together.
Ever wish they would reconcile?
Oh, God, no! (Laughs.) They work better this way.
When did you start following your dreams?
After eighth grade, I went to a boarding school in Michigan. My first year out there (in 2002), my mom moved to L.A. with my sisters and did Charlie’s Angels 2. My sisters would call me and be like, “We went to the craziest party! This is so cool!” I asked my mom if I could finish high school in L.A. Then I did a semester of college at University of Southern California and realized it was not for me. I came up with this whole proposal and typed it out for my mom. I said, “I’ll go twice a week to piano, guitar and voice lessons and I’ll go to acting class and work at the Marc Jacobs store and audition.” She was like, “OK!”
Has your celebrity made it difficult to meet guys?
Not necessarily. It’s kind of like having gaydar: fishing out who actually wants to have a conversation with me compared to someone who wants to talk about my parents or date me for the novelty of it. I had a couple experiences where I allowed people like that in my life and got screwed over. I don’t keep people in my life that I don’t feel safe with.
What’s your post-DWTS plan?
I’ve been working with (“Beautiful” songwriter) Linda Perry and I’m going to try to put a song out before the show is done. I want to do everything: Broadway, TV, movies. And I’d love to keep dancing. I never thought I’d make it this far. It’s a dream come true.
A Perfect Pair?
Their chemistry is hot. But despite fan speculation, Rumer and partner Valentin Chmer kovskiy, 29, keep it strictly professional. “Val is really funny - we’re very sarcastic and we have great banter,” says Rumer. The pro, for his part, tells Us that his friend’s work ethic “can only be overshadowed by the humility and love she displays daily toward people.”
Rehearsing up to seven hours a day for DWTS was a rude awakening for Rumer. “The first two weeks I thought I was going to pass out,” she tells Us. “I’ve never done this much exercise in my life.” To compensate, the 5-foot-6 star increased the amount of calories in her gluten- and dairy-free diet. “I’ve noticed my arms and legs get so much stronger, my stomach - all of it!