Zebra from ‘The Masked Dancer’ on His Two Left Feet, Throwing Punches, & Conquering His Fears
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Episode 7 of The Masked Dancer, “Semifinals – It’s All About the Dance!”]
Another celebrity has been knocked out of the competition on The Masked Dancer.
The February 10 semifinals sees the final four — Zebra, Cotton Candy, Sloth, and Tulip — perform in hopes of advancing to the finale, and three bells ring on Zebra’s time on the show. When he’s unmasked, panelist Brian Austin Green finds out his guess — professional boxer Oscar De La Hoya — is right.
De La Hoya chats with TV Insider about his time on the show and why he’s not leaving the Zebra behind.
It looked like you were having a lot of fun.
Oscar De La Hoya: I’m still having fun. It was incredible, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Behind the mask, I couldn’t stop laughing because I couldn’t wait to just be silly and be myself and it was great because I could hide.
Is that what made you say yes to doing this?
Absolutely — and the fact that I have two left feet. I was excited to team up with these amazing professional dancers. I couldn’t wait to learn and evolve my dancing. It turned out to be the most fun I’ve ever had.
What about the Zebra and the costume appealed to you?
When I first arrived to the dance studios and the rehearsals, they presented the Zebra and explained the meaning behind it: “because you’ve earned your stripes.” And I was thinking, “Oh my gosh, I actually have, not just inside the ring, but outside as well — winning world titles and just life in general.” It was a perfect fit and with no hesitation, I told them, “That’s the costume.”
You said you have two left feet, so did you find anything from boxing beneficial when it came to dancing?
I’m actually glad that I had all those years of boxing experience because I literally could not dance before I started practicing. Dancing was also, actually, my fear. Even today, I cannot get on the dance floor to save my life. When I started practicing and going to the studios every day, the dancers made me feel comfortable and like I was the best dancer in the world. I felt I could do this. Putting on the mask, you feel like it’s not you. You literally turn into the character you’re playing, the Zebra, and I just felt my feet moving without my thinking about it. It was awesome.
When they gave me every dance, I was so comfortable and happy with them. All the choreography, everything was just perfect. I had great partners. Everybody was amazing. When I would wake up in the morning, I couldn’t wait to go to the studio and start dancing, and we would be there for hours and hours, but it seemed like minutes because it was a lot of fun.
What’d you think of listening to the panelists’ guesses? The way you stood led them to a boxer, and Brian had you as his final guess.
[Laughs] The one that most worried me was Brian. Obviously he guessed right away and when they started saying, “He moves like a boxer,” I was thinking, “Oh my gosh, let me start being even more silly or doing different moves where they won’t guess I’m a boxer.” I tried throwing little punches pretending to be a boxer just to throw them off. Then it was funny because [panelist] Paula Abdul, I’ve known her forever, and somebody mentioned, “Well, you have maybe dated or something,” and I thought, “They’re going to guess who I am” because I believe we went out sometime, I don’t know when it was.
Have you heard from any family or friends guessing it was you?
I’ve had so many messages. I did tell one person, my little girl, but she really didn’t understand. We were watching the show and she couldn’t really put two and two together, so I left it alone, just to see what they would say about the Zebra. Luckily they said good things. … I cannot wait to take off my mask because when I have my kids there with me and my little girl’s going to see it, she’s going to be so, so surprised.
What are you going to take away from your overall experience of The Masked Dancer? Are you going to dance more?
The Masked Dancer reignited everything in me. I started going back to the boxing gym. I started taking yoga because I want to be limber and stretch more. These professional dancers are incredible with their elasticity. And I want to take dancing. Once the pandemic is over, I want to take classes. The Zebra might be sooner than later.
The Masked Dancer, Wednesdays, 8/7c, Fox