At the end of the day, Carrie Ann Inaba is proud of Kaitlyn Bristowe. TheDancing With the Stars judge may have given the former Bachelorette and her pro partner, Artem Chigvintsev, some arguably harsh critiques over the past few weeks, but on Monday’s Icons Night episode, Carrie Ann offered nothing but praise.
“I am beyond happy for them, because truthfully — they want to win,” Carrie Ann explained to ET’s Lauren Zima just moments after the show wrapped. “Tonight, she stepped up.”
“I’m just happy that tonight she delivered an incredible dance, and I don’t want to take much credit for it, but I do think I may have helped push them to make sure that they were going to be extra amazing,” she added with a laugh.
Carrie Ann, Bruno Tonioli and Derek Hough all awarded Kaitlyn and Artem 10s across the board for their dance to Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” As if the perfect score wasn’t enough to celebrate, Carrie Ann even gave Kaitlyn and Artem a standing ovation.
“We push you because we want you to reach your ultimate,” Carrie Ann said on the show. “Everything about it was amazing … everything we’ve been wanting from you was in this routine.”
As fans saw on the show, Kaitlyn couldn’t have been more excited by the feedback, as she and Artem immediately ran up to the judges’ table to give Carrie Ann a hug.
“Artem, that choreography was amazing, but the way Kaitlyn performed it was outstanding,” Carrie Ann told ET in her post-show interview. “I want people to be in it to win it. It’s not fun to watch somebody who is just OK. We want people to be amazing, astounding and like, blow us away. And look what happens when you do that?”
“Not only Kaitlyn but Johnny Weir. Tonight, [he was in the] bottom two, but his performance blew us away,” she added. “He took a lot of risks … but they paid off. I’m proud of people who take risks and push the envelope and deliver.”
Carrie Ann may have been tough with her feedback for Kaitlyn and Artem over the past few weeks — which Kaitlyn’s fanbase did not take lightly! — but the longtime judge wants fans to know that she’s simply doing her job.
“I think that I push everybody to be their best, because if you join Dancing With the Stars, you’re putting a lot out there, you’re risking a lot. I believe everybody wants to win, so my job as a judge is to encourage you to be your best. If you’re going to continue to break the rules, you’re going to continue to get low scores. Period. That doesn’t change,” Carrie Ann explained. “I don’t care who you are, what you’ve done in your life. If you break the rules on Dancing With the Stars, I will call you out.. that’s the most consistent thing I’ve done in my life. It’s about being honest. I’ve been judging for 29 seasons. Nothing is going to sway the way I judge.”
And nothing means nothing — especially when it comes to heated comments from Kaitlyn’s fans. As Carrie Ann pointed out, she always welcomes passionate fan commentary. But what she doesn’t stand for, in any way, is bullying.
“I want it to stop. I was outspoken about [stopping the bullying], but I’m not afraid of people telling me how they feel, because that’s passion. And people are passionate about our show, and I love that, but don’t do it in a bullying way,” she urged. “Talk to me about what’s going on.”
In her own interview with ET last Friday, Kaitlyn said that she understood Carrie Ann was just trying to do her job, and hoped her social media followers would see that, too. Like Carrie Ann, Kaitlyn doesn’t condone bullying, and hopes fans will stop the negativity from here on out.
“She’s a judge. That’s her job. I’m a dancer, Artem’s the pro, and we all just have to know our roles at this point,” Kaitlyn said at the time. “This is her job, this is what she’s been doing for years and I know how people can be on the internet.”
“It’s just like, we all don’t have to be so divided and hateful, you know? She can have her opinions and we can all not agree with them but it doesn’t mean we have to go out and shame her for what she’s doing, say awful comments, be nasty,” she continued. “You can say, ‘Oh, I don’t understand,’ or ‘They’re doing this and you’re not giving fair judgment.’ That’s fine, but the bullying part of it is just so unnecessary. That really broke my heart.”
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Tune in to Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday to hear more highlights from our post-show interviews.
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