Jeannie Mai's Mom Crashes ET Interview to Give Daughter Advice on How to Win 'DWTS' (Exclusive)

During Monday's Top 11 Night, Jeannie and her pro partner, Brandon Armstrong, will be dancing a Rumba that's dedicated to her family.

No one wants Jeannie Mai to win Dancing With the Stars more than her mom, Olivia TuTram Mai!

Throughout season 29 of the dance competition show, Mama Mai has been rooting for her daughter (and pro partner Brandon Armstrong) to take home the coveted mirrorball trophy. While judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Derek Hough and Bruno Tonioli have provided plenty of helpful feedback for the dance duo over the past few weeks, no one has been harder on Jeannie than her mother. In video packages that have aired on the show, Mama Mai has joked about deporting her daughter to Vietnam if she doesn't "do a better job" dancing.

That being said, when Mama Mai found out ET would be interviewing Jeannie and Brandon during a break from one of their Top 11 Night rehearsals, she hilariously crashed our Zoom chat, even showing up with a handmade microphone.

"OK, last week you guys got 8, 8, 8. High score, really good. I'm so proud of you and I'm so surprised," she told Jeannie and Brandon, asking, "Do you think you can maintain that and go up a 9, 9, 9, or 10, 10, 10?" 

"Listen, first of all, I'm trying my best," Jeannie replied. "I am not a dancer, remember that. I've never taken dance lessons, I've never performed in front of people at this scale so I'm going to do my best, but I'm with you. I don't want to go backwards in numbers. I don't want to go down in 8s. It's more competitive, we have to stay on. We don't want to be in the bottom two, so I'm going to try my best, Mom."

Mama Mai's next question was directed at Brandon. "What's your first impression about the Mama Mai, Brandon?" she asked.

"My first impression is that I never wanna piss you off," he replied, laughing. "I gotta stay on your good side!"

All jokes aside, however, Jeannie couldn't be prouder to represent her family on DWTS.

"I can definitely say the whole reason why I am an entertainer is because of my mom," The Real co-host gushed. "As soon as I could walk or speak, she told me what the family did to get to where they are. I knew as a little kid, my family were refugees. I knew that I had earned my citizenship because of what my family went through."

This week, Jeannie and Brandon will be dancing a Rumba to "You Gotta Be" by Des'ree. She says it is "a tribute song" to her family, and all the struggles they faced to give her a better life.

"The song is very, very meaningful to the story behind my dance. Brandon took so much time to choreograph something very specific to this week's story," she teased. "My entire existence and my identity, the reason I get to be on Dancing With the Stars, is because of what my family went through. My family are boat people, they are immigrants that went through treacherous situations in order to get to America and start our family."

"I am first generation. I am the oldest in my family that kind of kicked off being an American citizen, so my entire dance and the song is because of my family survival," she continued. "It is going to be brilliant."

Before her performance, Jeannie also took to Instagram to give praise to her extended family. "If it weren't for my grandmother and the perseverance of my family, I would not exist," she wrote. "Tonight, I dance for the millions of Vietnamese refugees and 'boat people' who risked their lives in search of freedom by coming to this country."

"I am honored to share how my grandparents plotted their escape from communism and how my Uncle Jessie rescued the family at sea," she added. "Their story is MY story: one of immense gratitude, love and most of all - hope."

Dancing With the Stars airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. In the meantime, tune into Entertainment Tonight on Monday for more with the Mais!


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