Leah Remini Talks Joining ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Mid-Season 17

Leah Remini, Cat Deeley, JoJo Siwa and Stephen Boss in So You Think You Can Dance - Season 17
Michael Becker/PictureGroup for FOX

The judges panel will look different on the June 15 episode of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. Leah Remini steps in to replace Matthew Morrison just in time for the milestone 300th installment. She sits alongside JoJo Siwa (Dancing With the Stars) and Stephen “tWitch” Boss (Ellen), and will give feedback to the show’s Top 12 contestants, who will be announced that night.

TV Insider was invited to the show’s taping, and we chatted with Remini about how her joining the show came to be and how her experience wearing different hats on DWTS (contestant, guest co-host, guest judge) prepared her.

How did this come about?

Leah Remini: I got a call from my manager: “Would you be interested in being a judge on So You Think” — she didn’t actually get to finish the question before I said, “Yes.” I love dance. I love dance shows. I love dancers. When Jennifer [Lopez] did her All I Have Tour, which I brought JoJo and my daughter to, I remember sitting there for hours and hours going to rehearsals and I could watch dancers for hours… Cheryl [Burke] and Maks [Chmerkovskiy] are my friends. I love people who not only love it but can perform it.

Have you continued to dance since you appeared on Season 17 of DWTS?

Yes. I love dance. I don’t love performing. I have a dance studio at my house, and have ever since I did Dancing With the Stars. I dance every day. I do ballroom. I can watch them all day every night. [But] if someone comes into my dance studio while I’m dancing, I’ll stop and turn the music off.

You were partnered with Tony Dovolani on DWTS. For the first five weeks, you were getting 7s and 8s, and then something clicked and in Week 6, you got all 9s. You made it to Week 10 and returned a few times as a co-host or a judge. How does all that inform your role as a SYTYCD judge?

It’s funny. Both shows are cohesive. Everyone knows each other [at both shows]. A lot of the choreographers are from DWTS. I think being on that show prepared me well for this. I know what goes on in front of the camera and behind. I’m also a fan of the show. I just can’t say to someone, “Oh. You missed that step.”

Are you glad you don’t have to hold up paddles like on DWTS?

So glad. I also don’t have to critique dancers here. It’s more of a mentor role. It’s more of a constructive role.

What else is keeping you busy?

I’m writing my second book. I’m hosting a game show, People Puzzler, [for which] I’m nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Game Show Host. I’m going to try to be there at the Daytime Emmys [on June 24]. I’ll be there if I can make it!

So You Think You Can Dance, Wednesdays, 9/8c, Fox