“I had no idea she was quitting,” the ballroom dancer, 40, told Us Weekly and other reporters following the Monday, September 19, premiere. “I was like, ‘What?’ … I honestly [found] out when they were talking to [cohost] Alfonso [Ribiero] and I was like, ‘Should I say something? Should I not?’ … [I decided] I’m gonna ask her afterward.”
D’Amelio, 50, explained that she was having doubts about her ability to compete on DWTS in the week leading up to the premiere. “I was fine up until last Tuesday. And then [on] Wednesday, rehearsal was awful, and I was on the verge of crying. … I struggled the entire rehearsal for three hours and then I went home and I rehearsed till, like, four in the morning,” the influencer revealed. “I came back a little bit better the next day, but [it] wasn’t great.”
She continued: “[I felt] all the self-doubt. I was like, ‘I can’t [do this]. I have to walk away from this.’”
However, the Hulu finally felt confident enough to hit the dance floor after returning for one last rehearsal, during which she felt like everything “settled” into place. A pep talk from her daughter — and fellow DWTS competitor — Charli D’Amelio also helped change Heidi’s mind. “She was super supportive,” the D’Amelio Show star said of her 18-year-old.
Once Chigvintsev learned about Heidi’s hesitations, he made sure to remind his partner that she has “amazing potential” to go far in the competition. “I think you are working really hard. I think you want to look really good, and you want to do well. And those [are] three types of ingredients that [are] so important to being successful in this show,” the Russia native said after the pair performed their cha-cha on Monday. “You just have to stay and go on from week to week and do better.”
Chigvintsev added that he hoped Heidi would feel a sense of accomplishment for sticking it out on the show. “I want you to leave this experience feeling like, ‘Absolutely, I’ve done it. I wanted to do it. And I achieved everything I wanted to,'” he continued.
The mother of two, for her part, was ready to put her heart and soul into her performances each week once the pressure of her debut performance passed. “I know I’m better now. I won’t feel like I did last week again,” Heidi said. “I’m over it.”
Heidi previously spoke about how excited she was to compete against her daughter on DWTS, joking that she hoped her husband, Marc D’Amelio, and older daughter Dixie D’Amelio would vote for her instead of Charli. “They keep saying they want to wait till they see us on the dance floor before they commit to voting one way or another,” she told Us earlier this month. “But, you know, I think they should vote for me. Honestly, Charli has millions of followers. She doesn’t need their votes.”
Adding that she and her children are “competitive” with one another, Heidi continued: “It’s all in good fun and we love each other. You know, she wants to win. I want to win. But at the end of the day, there can only be one winner … and I would love to see her win [too].”
Dancing With the Stars airs on Disney+ Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.