“Dancing With the Stars called, and they were like, ‘We want you to do this season,’ so I pushed [college] back again,” the So You Think You Can Dance alum, 28, explained during the January 31 episode of Jason Tartick’s “Trading Secrets” podcast. “Then, I think after that first season of Dancing With the Stars, I realized, like, ‘Oh, maybe I don’t need to go to college right now.’ … It just fell into place.”
Arnold’s first season aired in March 2013, when she was partnered with boxer Victor Ortiz during season 16. However, she claimed he had a “difficult personality,” which hindered their working relationship and contributed to her “demotion.”
“Then, I was given the boot down to troupe for four or five seasons,” she recalled to the Bachelorette alum, 33. “And then brought [back] up to pro. I wasn’t ready. I just was not ready. Honestly, that was probably one of the hardest parts of my career even though it’s such an incredible job; it’s an amazing job.”
While she gushed about her DWTS work now — including her season 25 win with Jordan Fisher — she admitted that she was initially saddened to be downgraded to a troupe member for those four seasons. (The troupe members do not dance with celebrity partners but rather perform in intro or “bumper” numbers with the other pros.)
“In hindsight, I know that I wasn’t quite ready. I needed to find out who I was, first of all,” Arnold said, noting her salary was cut in half. “And, what’s interesting is, when I say to you that it is a different kind of work, but you put in more hours on troupe sometimes than you do as a professional,” Arnold said, alleging the amount she received is not a livable wage. “It’s a total pay cut!”
The ballroom dancer further explained her duties as a member of the troupe.
“You put in more hours on troupe sometimes than you do as a professional because you are basically on-call 24/7,” she said. “You’re on the show’s schedule, always on call, ready to go. As a backup dancer, back when I did it, yes [the salary was livable], because there were two seasons a year.”
She continued: “But, with one season a year, no, I guess it depends on the kind of life that you live, but living in L.A., paying rent, buying food there, paying for gas, like, you’d be really tight.”
The Move With Linds founder — who welcomed daughter Sage in November 2020 with husband Sam Cusick — recently partnered with former Bachelor Matt James during season 30 of DWTS, which aired late last year.
“To my incredible partner @mattjames919 ✨ thank you for making this season so memorable, enjoyable, and fun every single day,” the Utah native captioned an Instagram tribute to the ABC Food Tours founder, 28, in October 2021 after their shocking elimination. “You are genuine, kind, funny, hard working, and one of the funnest people to be around. I am SO proud of you!! Coming in to this experience with zero dance or performance background and giving it your all week after week and genuinely improving SO much!!! I could not be more proud to be your coach, partner, and friend. I am going to miss dancing with you SO much and mostly gonna miss our karaoke rehearsal sessions, late night NYC pizza binges, and cookie nights with Sagey and @rachaelkirkconnell love you both so much! 💕 thank you all for your support and love for us this season!”