The actress tells ET that her mobility challenges will only add to her experience.
Selma Blair will continue to defy the odds of her multiple sclerosis diagnosis this year as she heads into competition for Dancing With the Stars’ season 31 mirrorball trophy. ABC announced her name among 15 other contestants via Good Morning America on Thursday. She’ll be partnered with veteran pro Sasha Farber.
Both Blair and Farber gushed with excitement following the official announcement, telling ET that Blair's mobility challenges will only add to their creativity on the dance floor.
"Walking is much harder for me than when I can get into the groove of settling into dance and fluidity," explains Blair, who first announced her MS diagnosis in 2018.
MS is a nerve disorder that disrupts the connection between brain and body, and Blair tells ET that she now uses a cane when walking and struggles with drop foot in her ankles. Nevertheless, the dancing has already proved to be a smoother experience.
"There is something when the nervous system and brain are calm," Blair says, explaining that her symptoms tend to worsen when she’s nervous, and she’s used her rehearsals as a tool to learn how to relax while moving.
"This is an amazing lesson to use my emotions and body together to unite a little more with the support of Sasha and music," she says. "Amazing things can happen and I hope that I can be an inspiration."
Farber added that he came to rehearsal with a different set of goals this season: He started small, with daily check-ins on Blair's level of soreness and breathing exercises to begin each rehearsal. "This isn't about a dance competition for me personally," he says. "I want Selma to improve and to grow."
Blair has already started to notice the differences. "It was a thrill," she says. "I wasn’t aware of what I could do, if I could safely push myself with some support and this is an amazing opportunity."
The rest of the newly announced DWTS cast also took turns commending Blair for her open-mindedness and bravery. "I'm just such a big fan for her and her journey," singer Jordin Sparks says. "I'm so inspired and I can't wait to see her dance."
"To be here…imagining what she is going through physically, it just shows me: Show up," comedian Wayne Brady adds. "Just show up. 'Oh, my back hurts…' shut up and show up."
"I think the general message that we all deserve space on this planet should be better promoted," actor Jason Lewis says. "Selma's a wonderful human being," adding that he was touched by "her story and her courage to come out here."
Farber put it perhaps most succinctly of all: "I think this season is probably going to be one of my most rewarding seasons I’ve ever done."
Dancing With the Stars streams live on Disney+ starting Monday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. ET.