Audiences are going to see a new Bristol Palin when “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars” debuts on September 24.
Two years after her first “DWTS” run, the author and advocate (now 21) says she’s more mature, confident and ready to take the dancing bull by its horns.
“I feel a lot better than last time,” Bristol, who has been practicing hot yoga to prepare for the show, told Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson at a “DWTS” rehearsal with pro partner Mark Ballas in Phoenix, Ariz., on Wednesday. “I think I’m in a lot better shape than last time and hopefully that will give me more confidence… I gained a lot of confidence through the show and I’m not a 19-year-old kid anymore, and I think that’ll help us this time.”
And Bristol isn’t the only one who feels she’s stronger now. Her mom, former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, is proud of her daughter for tackling another season of the grueling reality show.
“[My mom] is excited, she knows that this season’s going to be a lot different than the first season just because I’m a lot older and more mature about it,” she said, adding that she’s “sure” Mama Palin will make a few visits to “DWTS” to cheer on her daughter. “So, everyone’s really excited and I’m excited.”
Unlike during her first run on the show (in fall 2010) where she opted to stay in Los Angeles while rehearsing, this time around, Bristol and her 3-year-old son, Tripp, are staying out of the chaotic LA scene by adopting Phoenix as their temporary home base.
“I’m rehearsing here because it’s close to LA and I didn’t want to be in LA this time,” she explained, when asked why she chose to stay in Arizona. “I just think that Phoenix is a better fit for my son and I, and there’s more stuff for him to do here and it’s more of like a family-friendly environment. It’s just a good fit for me.”
Being a good mom to Tripp – who will be 4 in December — remains Bristol’s top priority, despite her rigorous dance rehearsal schedule.
“[Rehearsal] doesn’t take that much time away from him — just three, four hours a day. I don’t think it’s a lot,” she said. “And he’s usually doing activities anyways, and in hockey and stuff like that, so he’s busy himself. So I think it’s a good little break away from him.
Adding, “He’s just rowdy; he’s crazy; he’s cute. He’s just all boy.”
Tripp now has a newborn half-sister, as the current girlfriend of Tripp’s father, Levi Johnston, just gave birth to a baby girl this week. While Bristol’s relationship with Levi may be challenging, she said wants what’s best for Tripp – even if that means being close with Levi’s new daughter.
“I want [Tripp] to have a relationship with anyone who’s going to be a good, positive influence on his life,” she said, adding that she sent flowers to Levi to congratulate him on the birth of his daughter. “I don’t talk to him much, but I just sent him some flowers from Tripp because that is Tripp’s little half-sibling and I just want the best for them.”
As for the ever-present talk about Bristol’s new look (she underwent corrective jaw surgery back in December 2010), the young mom said she doesn’t let the rumors get under her skin.
“I’m so sick of people talking about my looks,” she said. “I just think that I feel good and people are going to say about whatever they want to say about me… They’ll say that I had my stomach stapled, I bet! They’re going to say a ton of stuff and I’m not worried about it.”
Adding, “Like I said before, I feel good. People are going to be saying about anything they want say about me, they’ll be making up whatever, but I feel good. This is a good season and it’s gonna be a whole new approach to the dancing.”
Watch Bristol and Mark make their “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars” debut on Monday, September 24 at 8/7c on ABC.