Willow Shields is the youngest contestant in the history of Dancing With The Stars, a fact that’s drawing plenty of attention to the Hunger Games star, both good and bad.
Willow’s age came as quite a shock to her partner, Mark Ballas, when he first found it out.
In an interview that coincided with the reveal of the complete roster for the show’s 20th season, Ballas said he was shocked when he met Shields for the first time and found out just how young she really was.
“She is only 14, which was very surprising to me,” Ballas said. “I knew I had a young partner because I heard through the grapevine that she would be a little younger than Sadie [Robertson], and I thought that would be maybe 16. Then we met and I asked how old she was and she said 14. I was like, ‘Whoa!’ “
“Literally, it looked like someone slapped your face,” Shields joked to Ballas.
Willow Shields, best known for her portrayal of Primrose Everdeen in the Hunger Games series, is the show’s youngest-ever competitor by two years. Zendaya Coleman was 16 when she appeared.
Not all fans are thrilled with the idea of Willow Shields joining the show. Many believe that at age 14, she is too young for the rigors of the dancing schedule, and especially for some of the racier dances that competitors are asked to perform.
@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
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
Willow Shields said her acting background has her ready for whatever emotions the dancing may ask of her.
“On The Hunger Games films, at least at the beginning, my character was so far in an emotional place and so I learned really quickly as a 10-year-old to kind of go into this deeply emotional place to play the character and as the series went on, I learned different things and how to find these emotions and things like that and I actually think that I can bring that to this, just in different ways,” she told Access Hollywood.
“Obviously, you’re overly happy or you’re sad. It depends on the dance, but I think that having that experience of really being pushed at a young age on The Hunger Games films to go really far in one direction and really far in another direction, I think that’ll help me as far as the acting aspect of the dances.”
Willow Shields may have an advantage, though, as Mark Ballas has found success with younger partners. He won Season 8 of Dancing With The Stars with Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, who was the youngest champion and third-youngest overall competitor ever. Mark also placed second last year with 16-year-old Sadie Robertson.
[Image via ABQ Journal]