‘America’s Best Dance Crew’ Aims for a “Grande” Journey to the VMAs

Frankie Grande
Adam Bouska

Last summer, Frankie Grande pranced his way into the Final Five on Big Brother and into the American consciousness with his larger-than-life pink hair and faux dude-on-dude showmance with fellow contestant Zach Rance. But for the older half-brother to pop superstar Ariana Grande, the hand on the clock has kept ticking right past his 15 minutes. A self-described “social-media mogul,” Grande has appeared on Broadway in Mamma Mia! and Rock of Ages and will host Oxygen’s Worst. Post. Ever, a Tosh.0-esque special premiering August 18 that breaks down all the highs and lows on social media. But first, he’ll get his biggest chance to shine yet as a judge on the revamp of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew, premiering tonight with Video Music Awards–themed challenges leading up to the big show on August 30. We grilled Grande about his new gig.

How has the show changed since going off the air in 2012?
It is a much bigger set and a much bigger audience. The dancers are going to be able to show off a lot more. They have more gizmos and gadgets to play with on stage, which is very exciting.

The crews competing are all-stars from past seasons. Do they come back with a vengeance?
There are a lot of people coming for blood. It’s a big deal, you know? If people have gotten close to the win, they want to take it for themselves. If they won, they want to [keep holding] that title.

Will you be bringing a little bit of Broadway to the show?
I am a very theatrical person in presence. You wait until you see my outfits, that’s all I have to say.

Which past ABDC judge’s style will yours most closely resemble: former N’SYNCer JC Chasez’s or hip-hop artist Lil Mama’s?
Neither. I’m going to have the heart of Paula Abdul with the bite and critical nature of Simon Cowell, but with the joy of Bruno [Tonioli]. That’s my hybrid—happy and wasted but also really smart and calculated. Somewhere in there, you will find Frankie J. Grande.

America’s Best Dance Crew: Road to the VMAs, Season premiere, Wednesday, July 29, 11/10c, MTV