For Marilu Henner, being on "Dancing with the Stars" is an answer to prayer - literally. In an exclusive interview with The Gospel Herald, the 64-year-old actress and best-selling author revealed she was so determined to join the hit ABC show, she asked former "DWTS" contestant Candace Cameron Bure to pray she'd get to compete this season, which kicked off last week.
"I literally prayed for 'Dancing with the Stars' - I pray for things all the time, but I literally prayed that I would be on 'Dancing with the Stars' big time," she shared. "And, Candace Cameron Bure, I got her to be on my team to pray, too. She and I were working on this series of Hallmark movies, and she'd been on the show, and that's all we'd talk about and I said, 'You're gonna help me with this one.'"
Henner's - and Bure's - prayers were answered: the "Taxi" actress is one of the 13 contestants competing on season 23 of the hit show: "I was so excited when they finally called me," she confessed.
When asked what advice she got from Bure for competing on DWTS ahead of her debut on the reality show, Henner said the "Fuller House" actress emphasized the importance of taking care of herself.
"She told me every detail about what it's like, from the hair and makeup to the wardrobe. She told me to make sure I took care of myself - don't do too much," Henner recalled "Let's face it, I'm the kind of person who believes, 'Why do when you can over-do?' But, I'm glad that I'm sort of pacing myself and that Candace gave me that great advice, because you could get hurt if you're not careful. It's a whole new set of muscles - it's so different than anything I've ever done."
Henner is in no amateur when it comes to dancing, as she has been on Broadway many times in her career, including roles in Pal Joey, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife and the long-running revival of Chicago. However, she was still star-struck when she discovered she was paired with returning pro and 6-time Mirror Ball champion, Derek Hough.
"It was an out of body experience, it was crazy!" she said of meeting Hough. "I never expected him to be behind that door, because he was gone as far as I was concerned, he wasn't even on the radar screen because he'd left the show and was going to do Hairspray Live and Singin' in the Rain on Broadway. So, he wasn't even a possibility for me."
She added, "And when I saw him I screamed, I cried, and I had that flash second of, 'Oh my gosh, did I just superimpose Derek Hough's face over someone else's because that's my wish?' (laughs) But no, it's Derek, and man, he's tough, he's like the teacher in Whiplash (laughs) He's great. I'm learning so much everyday."
Season 23 of Dancing with the Stars airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.