'New Kid' Jonathan Knight on How 'The Amazing Race' Helped Him Overcome his Anxiety

by Lisa Lozano 6:01 AM PST, February 25, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

Jonathan Knight of the '80s super group New Kids on the Block was always able to "blend in" when he was on stage with his four band mates, but now he's stepping into the spotlight as he competes with his partner Harley Rodriguez on this season of The Amazing Race.

Despite all of his years in the public eye, Jonathan has always suffered from anxiety behind closed doors, but he tells ETonline that appearing on CBS' hit reality competition, has helped him overcome his nerves.

"I am a very shy, reserved person, very anxious person. So I will say it gave me a lot of confidence," Jonathan reveals to ETonline of his Race experience.

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"I think a lot of fans were surprised that I did the Race. It was totally outside the box and outside the normal of what I would do. But a big part of me doing that was just to overcome some fears and to challenge myself to put myself out there and go through the audition process," he shares.

He says of his motivation for putting himself out there, "I woke up one day and I was like, 'I'm 46, it's time to cut the crap, there's no reason to let my nerves get the best of me.'"

When it came to the possibility of his anxiety surfacing on camera during the Race, Jonathan says, "It was just kind of like, I am at a point in my life where I'm comfortable in my own skin and I can allow myself to be vulnerable. And if I'm in a situation where I have a meltdown and it's on TV, I'm fine with that, I'm human."

But that doesn't mean he had NO fears about the Race. "There were times though, maybe a month before we left on the Race, where I would be lying in bed and I would just have shortness of breath getting myself so anxious and worked up."

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On how the Race experience compares to being in the New Kids, he says, "Being in a group with five guys, it's easy to blend in and just kind of disappear in the background. Doing interviews, there are four other guys, and they're all very outspoken. So for the last years of my career, it's always been them carrying interviews."

But he says doing interviews to promote the Race has already changed him. He says his manager even noticed the new him. "It's given me more confidence in doing interviews with [the New Kids]. It's funny, we were doing press yesterday for our upcoming tour and my manager pulled me aside and was like, 'Who is this person? Who are you? Where did you come from?' So he's noticed a difference too, just me feeling more comfortable and being able to speak up and speak my mind."

Read part one of our interview with Jonathan and his partner Harley, and tune in to The Amazing Race when it premieres tonight at 9:30/8:30c on CBS. The second episode airs Friday at 8/7c on CBS.

Follow Lisa Lozano on Twitter @LisaLozanoLA.

Watch Jonathan's fellow New Kid Donnie Wahlberg crash a wedding on Pop TV's cruise ship reality show, Rock this Boat: New Kids on the Block.