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Val Chmerkovskiy by Rick Bhatia



November 01, 2019 — Just one year after the release of his book, Valentin Chmerkovksiy sits down with Zack Tremblay to discuss his journey.

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In 2018, Valentin Chmerkovskiy was given the opportunity to write his first book, ‘I’ll Never Change My Name’. This biographical memoir is something Chmerkovskiy is very proud of. Val admits, “Man, I am so proud of my family, my friends, my teachers, my failures, my stories, I’m just so proud and grateful.” Val always loved writing and sharing stories, and this book gave him that chance. Chmerkovskiy shares, “I was also in this newfound position now because of Dancing With The Stars. Now millions of people know who I am, and I’m like, “man, if you’re interested in this part of me, there’s this whole other part of me that is so interesting.” Since the light is shed on me now, it’s my responsibility to share stories of my family and all of my influences that made it possible for me to be here. I need to shed a little light on them too.” This book required Val to revisit some crucial moments in his life. Chmerkovskiy reveals, “It’s really honest and easy. It’s conversational, that’s what it is. I didn’t want to use big words for the sake of using big words. If I got a chance to misspell words, sometimes I had to fight the editor on like, “yo, trust me, this is how I want to say it and write it.” We live in a generation where emotion sometimes goes against grammar. I’m not justifying misspelling then or than. Know your conjugations, obviously. But certain punctuation, in my opinion, and maybe it’s an ignorant opinion, sometimes needs, for authenticity, a dash of profanity. It’s how I felt it at the time and that’s how I expressed it at the time, for better or worse.


While there is no doubt that Val is living his most authentic and best life, he experienced one of the biggest milestones of his life this past spring. On April 13, 2019, Val married the love of his life, Jenna. Chmerkovskiy admits, “It’s not about what it was, where it was, what we looked like - It was just about the gesture. I’m lucky enough to have found somebody I was willing to give up my life for. I was lucky enough to find someone who was willing to give up their life for me. The romance, the novelty, the fucking awesomeness around that idea right there, is what made that the biggest moment of my life.” It was obviously a very special day for the beautiful couple, as they surrounded themselves with their closest friends and family. Val shares, “I was so excited to have all of these worlds collide and interact. I wanted to be there, I wanted to introduce this one to that one. They all met and they all had that chemistry. The party was incredible, but I have FOMO because ironically her and I missed most of it. There were a couple of moments where we had to find each other and just enjoy the moment.”


According to Val, the key to a successful marriage is balance. While he is lucky to live a life with Jenna, he also has the opportunity to go to work with her as well. Chmerkovskiy admits, “It’s incredible when it’s incredible and it’s challenging when it’s challenging. Sometimes it works and sometimes we have to check ourselves.” Above all, Val and Jenna have a level of respect for each other that makes it work. Chmerkovskiy shares, “Her level of responsibility to the people that she is involved with is through the roof. My accountability to the projects that I sign on for are through the roof. That’s what I love about her. Those are the qualities that really attracted us to each other.”


Dancing With The Stars has been a huge part of Val’s life for quite some time now. Chmerkovskiy admits, “For a long time the dancer’s ego kind of flared up, because we’re out on tour as well, all the other months of the year. We were doing the leg work. To some degree there is truth to it, we are here every single season. But the truth is, it’s a great cast of celebrities that makes the show exciting. People have seen us, they know what to expect from us. So we get this new, fresh prospective with a new celebrity, with a new partner. Also, if it’s a good cast of vibrant people, big characters, interesting characters, but ultimately people that are really excited to be there, then the dancers take on a different shape. We become better. It’s back to balance.” This year specifically, there is a incredible flare of gratitude coming from the pros. Val shares, “Maybe because we went to once a year and that’s why there is more time to reflect and be like, “damn, I miss my job”. But, as a project, I think it’s a wonderful product of television that is unlike a lot shows that are hijacked by the crazy stuff that is out there. We hear a lot of negative stories in the news already. I’m not pleading ignorance, but I think for two hours on a Monday night, it’s nice that the entire family can come together and watch something that they know will be pure of joy and genuine commitment to camaraderie and people and love and happiness. It’s live music, live dancing, gorgeous people inside and out doing beautiful things and celebrating life. I don’t know too many shows out there that have that type of variety while including competition and dance, it’s incredible. I think that’s the energy, that’s our mission statement. Take it seriously, but don’t forget to have fun. That is why we are all here.” 


This season was quite challenging for Val as he experienced something that had never happened on the show before. “What happened was, I was paired up with Christie Brinkley as my Season 28 partner. We had a blast for three weeks training for the premiere. Then, three days before the premiere, there was an incident at rehearsal where she tripped and fell. It was a really innocent fall that she tried to catch with her arm, and she just shattered her arm basically. It was devastating for me. I feel a great deal of responsibility for my partner, but I also felt devastated that she was so close because she loved being there and was having so much fun. It was tough from that respect.” With Christie unable to continue,  her daughter, Sailor, stepped in to save the day. Val reveals, “We’ve had people get hurt and injured at rehearsals, but we’ve never had people get hurt three days before the premiere. And you can’t just replace someone. Who’s going to learn the dance that fast and who’s going to sign up with contracts, etc. It doesn’t happen that fast. For me, it was tough because if they were going to give me someone that was not related to Christie, another celebrity or someone else - it would have been tough for me to shift my attention fully to that person. That’s what it takes to be successful on the show – full commitment. It’s not that new celebrity’s fault if my heart would still be with Christie. I would have to commit and that would’ve been devastating for me. So it actually worked out. Sailor, Christie’s daughter, flew in and I sold her this crazy idea - “I’ll take care of you, I’ll teach you, and it’ll be so much fun. I think she was numb to the idea at first. Then I think reality set in at rehearsal and we just got through it.”


With 2020 right around the corner, balance is taking a front seat in Val’s mind - “Balance between my work and my life - reflecting on my past, celebrating my past. Focusing on my future. It’s a huge year for me, I’m growing every day. I just hope 2020 continues to give me and my family health. Everything else, I’ve been killing it. I’m just going to keep killing it, you know? By killing it, I don’t mean the accomplishments. I mean, I have a positive perspective, a grateful heart, a really curious mind and a lot of fucking ambition. I just hope that I stay on that streak and the only way I can stay on that streak is if I continue to be healthy. That’s the only thing I’ve ever wished for.”

Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Zack Tremblay
Valentin Chmerkovskiy
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