Some Dancing with the Stars fans were shocked when they learned who Mark Ballas’ celebrity partner would be for Season 20, and they’re not sure that she should be competing on the show at all.
According to Wetpaint, Mark Ballas was paired with Willow Shields, the actress who plays Katniss’ younger sister in The Hunger Games movies. Right now, Dancing with the Stars producers are probably praying that Jennifer Lawrence will feel obligated to show up for at least one of her onscreen sibling’s performances.
The problem some DWTS fans have with Willow Shields isn’t one of the usual issues — no one is complaining about her level of fame, her personal views, or any past dance experience that she might have. Instead, viewers are worried that the 14-year-old star is simply too young to compete on Dancing with the Stars. There are already numerous tweets questioning her addition to the Season 20 cast.
— Angela (@disneyfans1928) February 24, 2015
Willow Shields is adorable but way too young for dwts. JLaw needs to volunteer as tribute.
— Myka Bertrand (@Myka234) February 24, 2015
DWTS NO! 14 year old willow shields too young! They need to stop with these young stars. Creepy. #DWTS
— Tracey Bouton (@axotrace) February 24, 2015
Is it just me or is a 14 year old kinda young to be on #DWTS I love WIllow Shields but it kinda seems young for all the dances that they do
— Stay Strong (@pinkhearthope) February 24, 2015
@JOXRoundtable With Sadie Robertson(17) and now Willow Shields(14) on DWTS, are the girls getting too young for the racy dances on the show?
— Kyle Morgan (@kmorgan514) February 24, 2015
“The reason most people are wondering if this will work is because, while Dancing With the Stars is a family show, some of the dances are a bit sexy for a young teen to be doing on national television, especially when her partner, Mark Ballas, is 28,” Wetpaint writes.
However, there are two likely reasons DWTS keeps casting popular young stars like Willow — they usually do very well on the show, and they attract new groups of younger viewers. Willow Shields also has the notoriety of being the youngest-ever competitor this season.
Other successful young celebs who have competed on DWTS include Mark Ballas’ second-place partner from last season, 17-year-old Duck Dynasty star Sadie Robertson, and Val Chmerkovskiy’s second-place partner from Season 16, 16-year-old Disney actress Zendaya.
Luckily, Willow Shields’ partner learned a lot about how to make a younger partner feel comfortable during the last season of DWTS. Sadie Robertson comes from a very conservative family, and her father didn’t want her wearing any of the barely-there costumes that older female competitors often don on the show. As the Inquisitr previously reported, Willie Robertson was allowed to have a say in his daughter’s DWTS wardrobe, and Mark didn’t mind at all. In fact, he said that he likes to choose less-revealing outfits so that more of the audience’s focus will be on the dancing. One of Sadie’s cutest conservative costumes was definitely the Princess Peach outfit she wore for the Super Mario Bros.-themed dance.
During an interview with TV Guide, Robertson revealed that Mark Ballas was willing to make changes to her dances in order to make her feel more comfortable.
“Mark’s actually been out to the house twice now, and he really is so respectful of everything that we’ve asked,” Sadie said. “He is a trouper, because we really have pushed him to his limits. We’ve changed the dances and he has just been wonderful with making the changes that we need and making it great.”
It’s also important for Dancing with the Stars to remember that Willow Shields stars in movies about kids brutally killing other kids. If she can handle that, she’ll probably do fine on DWTS.
Instead of focusing on Willow’s age, perhaps fans should start thinking about what the young star can bring to the show — viewers might get to see a Hunger Games-themed dance to one of the songs from the extremely popular series of movies. The film franchise’s fiercely-loyal legion of fans could help Willow make it far on the show, but she’s up against some pretty tough competition.
What do you think of Willow Shields’ casting? Is she too young for the show, or is Mark Ballas perfectly capable of making her performances age-appropriate?
[Image credits: Jason Merritt, Jerod Harris/Getty]