Cheryl Burke Shares Emotional Message on Starting Over
After Sharna Burgess recently slammed the ABC show for casting football player Adrian Peterson in its upcoming season 32 despite his past child abuse charge, Cheryl weighed in with her perspective when it comes to dancing with controversial stars.
“We’ve had a lot of controversial characters on the show,” she told Variety in an interview published Sept. 18, referring to the murder charge her season 28 partner faced early in his career. “I think I danced with Ray Lewis—that was a bit controversial. When it comes to abuse, I do agree with Sharna. However, you sign up to be a part of the show.” (Ray was charged with murder following a Super Bowl party in 2000, but the charge was dropped and he later pleaded guilty to an obstruction of justice charge, per the Washington Post.)
Cheryl also noted that sticking with a partner you haven’t chosen is part of the gig.
“Honestly, as a pro dancer, whoever walks in through that door, you don’t turn around and walk out,” continued the former dance pro, who exited DWTS after 26 seasons last fall. “You’re signing up for this. It’s not like you can request, but if you say certain things that you’re triggered by, you would hope that that wouldn’t happen.”
However, despite personal feelings, Cheryl understands getting the job done. “This is showbiz,” she said. “I respect her, of course. I come from abuse as a little girl. At the end of the day, I don’t promote it. But my job is, I’m an employee. You can’t just turn around and walk out and say I’m sorry. That’s not part of the contract. It’s a fine line.”
E! News has reached out to ABC and Adrian’s rep for comment but has not heard back.
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Cheryl also pushed back against anyone who may be criticizing Adrian’s partner, Britt Stewart, who wrote in a joint Instagram post with Adrian last week, “I can finally share my football legend of a partner with you all! @adrianpeterson I am so excited to embark on this journey with you!”
“Let me just clear this up: We have zero say of who we dance with,” Cheryl emphasized. “Honestly, for most of these pro dancers, they are counting their blessings that they are asked back.”
In fact, she compared the DWTS pros’ jobs to any others.
“Think of most jobs in America,” Cheryl added. “Most people don’t want to be there. We’re lucky that we get to do what we love to do and get paid for it on national television. You’ve got to separate; not every workplace you’re gonna agree with their morals, values and beliefs, but you signed up for it. We all have to pay bills.”
The Sex, Lies, and Spray Tans podcast host’s comments come days after Sharna voiced her disappointment after the competition show announced Adrian as competitor this season.
“There’s one person that I’d like to share that I’m really shocked is on there is Adrian Peterson, the football player,” she recalled on the Sept. 18 episode of her Old-ish podcast. “The man has been charged with child abuse of his 4-year-old son in the way that he punishes him and that is just devastating for me.”
In 2014, Adrian was indicted on a felony charge for allegedly harming his then 4-year-old son with a switch, leading to cuts on his body, per USA Today. Adrian pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of misdemeanor reckless assault and avoided jail time. He also received a two-year probation period, a $4,000 fine and 80 hours of community service and faced a one-year suspension in the NFL.
“I’m telling you now if I walked into a room and that was my partner,” Sharna continued, “I would turn around and walk right out. There is no way—now being a mother—I would be able to stomach that.”
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