EXCLUSIVE: Tony Dovolani on NeNe Leakes and her chances on DWTS 0

Tony Dovolani and NeNe Leakes of Dancing With The Stars Season 18

Image: ABC

One might expect that Tony Dovolani would have his hands full with Real Housewives of Atlanta star NeNe Leakes this season on Dancing With The Stars. However, the pro and Season 15 winner told That’s Your Reality today that she has exceeded every expectation.

“Every time I have a new partner, I tend to go in with a clean slate. I don’t try to read up on anything that people might have said about them,” Tony told us. “In this case, I watch Real Housewives of Atlanta because my wife is addicted. I knew who she was and that she has a big personality. From the moment she came in, we got along. It almost threw me for a loop because I’m expecting this diva!”

Season 18 of Dancing With The Stars will feature a new twist that has both the professional dancers and celebrities thrown for a loop. Viewers will have the power of The Switch Up, and can vote for all of the couples to change partners at one point during the competition. “I think it’s gonna be harder for the pros,” Tony admitted. “The celebrities are going from one teacher to the next they’ll be open to different things. The pro works 8-9 weeks with that celebrity, and it’s going to be difficult to see them dance with somebody else. It’s going to be like that person’s cheating on you!”

The bar is set high for Tony, who won Season 15 with Melissa Rycroft. The pro said that since his All Stars win, he feels like a huge weight has been lifted off of him. “It’s hard to go season to season and see some of the same people win over and over. I’ve learned something with each and every one of my partners but I gotta tell you, it felt good to win,” he told us.

Whether NeNe and Tony will have to change partners remains to be seen but with or without him, he feels that her chances in the competition are looking good. “I think she’s got what it takes. She works hard, she’s got soul, she hears music beautifully and any time she’s hit a rough patch in rehearsals, she prevails by working hard, asking the right questions, and wanting it. I can’t wait for America to see what she’s got!”

Dancing With The Stars premieres Monday, March 17, at 8pm ET on ABC.