Tony-winning actress and Dancing With The Stars alum Marissa Jaret Winokur is keeping busy these days with a new reality series and a baby at home. She's the host of Dance Your Ass Off (Tuesdays at 10/9C on Oxygen; Premieres on 06/29), a weight-loss contest that challenges its stars to shimmy, rumba and pole dance their way to fitness. Marissa chatted recently about the show, life at home (and on the set) with her one-year-old son Zev who was born via surrogate following Marissa's battle with cervical cancer, and the challenges of staying fit.
Q: What's Dance Your Ass Off about, for you?
A: When you have to lose a lot of weight, you say, "Oh my gosh, there is nothing I can do." But I think this show promotes the fact that if you just dance every day and if you feel good, it's a win/win situation. When you start feeling good, then you start looking better. Then you start feeling better. And you work harder to feel good because you're looking better.
Q: How is hosting a show different from being a contestant, like you were on Dancing With The Stars?
A: Oh, it's completely trippy. I'm a total reality TV junkie. That's why I wanted to be on Dancing With The Stars . That's why I wanted to be a part of this show. But when you're a contestant, it's all about you. This is the first job I've ever had where it's not about me. It's about these contestants, their journey. I'm just there to help facilitate it.
And there was a moment when the producers asked me, "Do you want to dance? Do you want to sing? Do you want to do something on this show?" And I took a step back and told them no. You know what? This is about the contestants. This isn't about me. And I guess, being a new mom, it's the right timing for me to be a host because now I know it is absolutely not about me.
Q: How do you juggle hosting a show and being a mom?
A: This was probably the perfect show for me as a new mom, because being the host meant that I didn't have to put in 18-hour days. For the contestants it was, but for me it wasn't. Every Tuesday, and I would go by and visit the contestants. But it wasn't an 18-hour shoot like I've [done before]. I couldn't have done Dancing With The Stars as a new mom. So this job was the perfect job. And on show days, much to everybody's chagrin, I would bring my son with me. And he would watch the dances, and he would totally kick and scream, and love it. He was crazy! He loved the music. He loved the lights. He loved it all. So for me, this was a perfect job. I applaud every working mother out there. It's such a hard balance. If you're at work, you feel torn because you want to be home with your son. But when you're at home, you're like, "Oh, I need to be working to provide for my family. It's a very, very hard job.