Just days after announcing via social media and that she and her husband, Carson McAllister, are expecting their first child together, the two sat down for an exclusive interview with ET. During the candid chat, filmed over Zoom from their home in Utah, Witney opened up about the show's upcoming 29th season, which is scheduled to begin production in September.
Witney confirmed to ET that, like fellow pro Lindsay Arnold (who is also expecting her first child, a baby girl, with husband Sam Cusick), she will not be competing for the Mirrorball trophy this season. She said it's due to a number of safety reasons, with the added stress of COVID-19 being the main factor.
"We had quite a few conversations about that, and I just don't think it's ultimately safe for me to participate. So I will not be joining this season," Witney, 26, told ET's Lauren Zima. "It's just so hard with COVID-19, we don't really know what's happening there. And I'd be pretty big. I'd be about 24 weeks, which is, like, I'd have a belly."
"I think it'll be a really drastic change. I mean, it's been a part of my life ever since I graduated high school. So when I was 18, that's all I've known. I've done it every single year since," she continued. "I'm definitely going to have some serious FOMO. I told [producer] Deena Katz yesterday, I was like, 'I don't know how I'm gonna do it without dancing.' But Carson will be happy because he won't have to fly back and forth [to Los Angeles] all the time!"
How the show will work amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is a question that seems to be on everybody's mind right now, including the pro dancers and those working behind the scenes. While Witney hasn't heard any official final plans just yet, she shared some of her own ideas of how she could see DWTS evolving this season.
"I'm trying to find out what I can behind the scenes, but they're not telling me much," she joked. "I think everything's kind of still up in the air. They don't really know exactly when they'll go back to rehearse. Even the premiere date they're not sure on either, so no solid answers. But I know it's happening, that's for sure."
"I can see the show evolving into maybe no audience, which is so sad because that's where we just we get our energy from," she continued. "Unfortunately, the [social distancing] rules still apply in California, so I don't know if they'll be able to do that. And obviously group numbers are going to be a little bit harder unless everyone quarantines together. In my opinion, I think they'll just quarantine everybody; just have everybody stick with the group there."
All that being said, Witney admitted that she's actually "really excited" to sit this season out and watch it at home with Carson from an audience standpoint. "I've never done that before, so I'm really excited to cheer on all my castmates and my friends and just see how the show is," she exclaimed. "It's gonna be great."
"I finally have someone to watch it with!" added Carson. "I won't be in the audience by myself."
Like many longtime fans of the dance competition series, Witney thinks it will be "interesting" to see how new host Tyra Banks switches things up this season following Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews' sudden departure. She told ET that the pros were given "a heads up" that the show would be getting a new host, but they had no idea that Banks would be the one stepping in!
"I'm really excited about Tyra, that's amazing news. I think she's going to be amazing, but it definitely will be very different," she shared. "I mean, I've correlated the show Dancing With the Stars with Tom, so for him not to be there, it's definitely a huge change. But I think change is good sometimes."
"I'm also a huge fan of America's Next Top Model. I kinda grew up watching Tyra, so she's a little bit nostalgic for me, and I think it'll bring back a lot of nostalgia for people," she continued. "I think that she is pretty relatable. She's really good on TV, she knows how to host, obviously. It will just be interesting to see her in the dancing realm. Like, I'm not sure how that's gonna go, but I think she's gonna be great. It will be really interesting to watch, for sure."
Also interesting is the fact that only one celebrity contestant has been confirmed to compete this season, former Bachelorette star Kaitlyn Bristowe. Witney shared who she'd love to see join her in the ballroom.
"I would love to see Zac Efron," she exclaimed. "Just because he can dance, and he would be really fun to watch."
We couldn't agree more, Wit! As we patiently await more DWTS casting news, watch the video below for more from Witney's exclusive chat with ET: