The celebrity under the Moth mask shares the heartwarming reason she said yes to the show, and her unlikely connection to panelist Ashley Tisdale.
In the shows most touching reveal yet, the gorgeous winged contestant was unmasked to reveal activist, bestselling author, and survivor Elizabeth Smart. Here, Smart breaks down the heartwarming reason she decided to do the dancing show, and what her favorite part of the process was.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Youve never done something like this before. What was your reaction when you got the call from the producers asking you to do the show, and why did you say yes?ELIZABETH SMART: Well youre absolutely right. I have never done anything like this before. Im not a dancer. Ive never trained. Thats not my forte in life. And when they first asked me, I had this moment of disbelief and shock. I mean, are you sure you have the right phone number? Are you sure youre talking to the right person? Im pretty sure Julianne Houghs parents live in Utah. Were you trying to get ahold of her? You couldnt possibly mean me. And [they were] like, "No, no, we mean you." And kind of my initial reaction was that I would probably say no, because this is something outside of my comfort zone, and something that I really dont have any experience with. But my grandma passed away around the same time that they asked me to do this. And sitting at her funeral, I just remember sitting there thinking about her life, and she did a lot of really serious things, but she also had a lot of fun. And just thinking about my life, I feel like Ive lived a pretty serious life. Ive dedicated really a lot of my life since I was rescued from being kidnapped to serious issues — to abuse prevention, and trying to help save kidnapping victims, and trying to help teach people how to respond kindly and compassionately towards the victims, and trying to prevent rape and sexual violence, and teaching people of the difference between enthusiastic consent and rape, because anything outside of enthusiastic consent is rape.
So Ive spent so much time working in this field that when I was sitting there thinking about it at my grandmas funeral, I just thought, you know what, why not? Life is already hard enough. I mean, not to mention 2020. I dont think anyone would come back and say, "Oh, yeah, 2020, best year of my life" — or there would be very few people who would say that. And I just thought, this has already been a hard year, so why not do something thats fun? Why not do something that brings a little bit of light to my life and maybe to people watching? I mean, why not? Life, for all its seriousness, I think its also good to have fun. And I think its also good to do something outside of your comfort zone, or at least it is for me. So, I guess for me more than anyone else, I just wanted to do something fun. Its okay to have fun.
I know they incorporated clues into some of the costumes. Did your costume have any clues to your identity?No. But I cant be on the topic of the costume and just not say that the whole wardrobe team who created it — it was so beautiful. And honestly the closer you got to it, the more beautiful it became because you saw something new that you maybe wouldnt notice from far away. I mean, it did not disappoint on any level. Ive never been in something so customized to me before. I mean, that costume was more customized to me than my wedding dress. Im being 100% serious. I think they measured everywhere on me, and it turned out so beautiful.
My favorite part about the whole show was the team that made it happen. It was the producers that worked with me individually, the choreographers who, oh my goodness, showed the patience of saints working with me. My dance partner, I have to admit, sometimes I wished he wasnt so talented, because I think I maybe wouldnt look quite so bad if he was not quite so good. [Laughs] But I mean, he was so talented and kind and just a genuine good person. And the wardrobe people, the one woman who helped me into my costume every day, she was so sweet and so kind. Everyone who was a part of that show that made it happen behind the scenes, they were the heroes of the show.
Did you ever imagine in your life that Brian Austin Green would guess you, or that someone like Paula Abdul would be so convinced it wasnt you? What did you make of those guesses?[Laughs.] No, honestly, I didnt think that people like Brian Austin Green or Paula Abdul even knew my name. I dont mean this in a negative way at all, but they just live in a different world than I live in, you know? So, no, I didnt think that they would ever know me. It was a surprise. I thought if anyone would have guessed me, it would have been Ashley Tisdale. She was in High School Musical. And they filmed at the same high school that I went to. They filmed I think either right before or right after my senior year, so I thought if anyone would have guessed me, it would have been her. And it wasnt! So it was a surprise, but it was fun.
Your reveal was very emotional and touching. What did that moment mean to you?It was emotional. They asked me why I did it, and I talked about my grandma. I finally told my sister the other day that I had done [the show], and I started crying when I was telling my sister, just because I was talking to her about our grandma, and certainly, even back then it was even closer to when my grandma had passed away. I ultimately had said yes because of her influence on my life. And even the dances, as cliche as this may sound, [the dances] even felt connected to her. It was my grandparents that taught me how to ride a horse. They fell in love on a ranch. Their first kiss was on a moonlight horseback ride up in the mountains. And my first dance [on the show] was a country swing dance with a country western feel to it, and then the second dance was a cha cha.
I did a study abroad in London when I was in college, and my grandma, when I finished it, she flew out to London and she picked me up. She took me and we went towards Spain for a little bit. And I remember while we were there, we went into these caves where they had these flamenco dancers and the flamenco dancers were trying to pull people up from the audience. Of course, I wouldnt join. But my grandma hopped right up, and even she tried to get me to go. So kind of that same Spanish flare felt like it was there in my second number as well. They were both things that my grandma would have loved. She would have wanted to be a part of it, and if she couldnt have been a part of it, she would have wanted to be on the front row. And honestly, she probably definitely could not have kept it a secret, she would have told the whole universe. She would continue to tell the whole universe probably for the next 10 years. Shed tell everyone that, "Well, did you see The Masked Dancer? Did you know my granddaughter was on it? Did you know she was the beautiful Moth? Well, you need to go watch because she was amazing." That would have been her. So I didnt want to be emotional. I wanted to hold it back, but it got the better of me.
Whats next for you? Are you going to do more TV?Well, another lesson that I feel like Ive learned in the last year or last couple of years is to never say never. So, I currently dont have plans to, but I dont know what the future holds, though. Who knows?
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