Photo credit: ABC/ Adam Taylor
While there is a lot of talk about the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, hundreds of cities all over the country will be organizing their own march as a companion event. The march in Los Angeles has an unexpected organizer for those who follow Dancing With the Stars — Co-Executive Producer Deena Katz.
Katz is known for her clever casting on the dance competition series — from newsmakers like Alek Skarlatos to controversial figures like 2016 Olympian Ryan Lochte. Her knack for finding the right mix of personalities is renowned and her passion for human rights is coming together at just the right time.
Dance Network spoke to Katz just days before the big event where she gave us an inside look at what participants can expect from the Los Angeles march and what DWTS favorites are performing on the big stage.
Photo credit: Women’s March LA
Katz mobilized almost immediately after the election to get involved. After toying with the idea of flying her family to Washington, D.C. for the official march, she decided to do something at the local level.
“Isn’t it more empowering if this happens all around the country and everybody is doing this? It just makes more of a statement,” says Katz.
Katz partnered up with event producer Emiliana Guereca, who had already started securing permits. At the time, they expected 500 to 1,000 people at the event. Once the word got out, the grassroots event rapidly grew and is now expecting several hundred thousand attendees.
Katz, who is also a producer at Real Time with Bill Maher, has received support from ABC executives for working on the event. Despite such a politically charged week, she is very clear what the Women’s March is and isn’t.
“This is not an anti-Trump rally. This is not a political statement. This is about human rights — not just women’s rights,” she explains. “It’s LGBTQ, it’s immigration rights, and it’s reproductive rights. This is about everybody’s rights.”
Photo credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal
To help spread that message, Katz enlisted the help of DWTS pro Sasha Farber and his Season 23 partner Terra Jolé, who will be performing a brand-new jive to “What I Like About You” covered by Lillix.
“When I reached out to them, it was just a couple of thousand people going to the event. These guys — without even blinking — said yes to me,” Katz shares. “This thing is now growing and growing. Jane Fonda, Debbie Allen, Alfre Woodard and Miley Cyrus are going to be onstage with them.”
Farber and Jolé not only were the first talents to sign up for the event, but they never even asked who else was on the roster. Katz was “thrilled” about their willingness to participate.
Photo credit: Instagram/Sasha Farber
She also shared that the fearless Jolé really wanted to bring her fire-swallowing trick to wow the crowd. It was supposed to happen during Season 23, but was nixed at the last minute due to production reasons.
“She told me, ‘I want to do the fire now,’” Katz laughs, “I told her you are now not doing fire with a couple hundred thousand people in the crowd.”
With Season 24 just around the corner and about half of the show already cast for the spring, Katz promised she would be wearing her casting hat on Saturday.
“I have my casting hat on 24 hours a day. This show is like my baby. I was the first person in America hired and there is not a day that goes by that I’m not working on it and searching people out,” she says. “So trust me, I might be asking Jane Fonda that day.”
So be on the lookout on social media for those big stars who emerge from the Women’s March LA.
“I would bet someone who is there ends up dancing on this next season,” Katz teases. “I don’t know who, but I’ll look at the list and see what happens.”