September 13, 2020
'Dancing With The Stars' Celeb AJ McLean Says He Would 'Embrace' The Chance To Explore His Sobriety On Show

Dancing with the Stars contestant AJ Mclean said he hopes he will be able to explore his sobriety in a special way on the ABC celebrity ballroom competition.

The Backstreet Boys alum, who will compete against a cast that includes Tiger King star Carole Baskin and Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir for the 29th mirrorball trophy, opened up about his substance abuse struggles in a new interview.

McLean has been vocal about his struggles with addiction over the past 20 years, and he recently marked a nine-month sobriety milestone. The 42-year-old told ET Canada that he would "embrace" exploring his personal journey through a routine on DWTS and that he has already talked about it with his pro partner and the show's producers.

"We've talked very candidly. I just surpassed nine months sober and am in a great headspace. …If I do get the privilege of exploring [my sobriety] through dance, [hopefully I can] help another addict and show that we're human, too.... We made a mistake, but we're not a mistake."
McLean added that if he can inspire a fellow addict who is struggling to admit they have a problem or to take the first step of going to an AA meeting, then he will have done what he has set out to do.

Fans of Dancing With the Stars know that the show often features theme nights that go much deeper than a Disney dance. The Most Most Memorable Year theme showcases a life-changing time in the contestants' lives. It sounds like McLean already has his most important story ready should that emotional theme week roll around during the revamped season hosted by Tyra Banks.

AJ McLean poses at an event.
Getty Images | Jesse Grant

As for the mystery pro partner who will help McLean bring all of his dances to life, all he could say is that she's an "awesome" performer and a big "talker" just like him. The "Larger than Life" singer said he already has a high comfort level with the female pro and feels like he has known her his whole life.

McLean, whose childhood dream was to be a backup dancer for Michael Jackson before he shot to fame as a Backstreet Boy instead, promised his fans that he will apply the same energy he does during a concert with his bandmates to every Dancing with the Stars performance.

He also made it clear that despite his onstage dance "experience," he has never ballroom danced before, so everyone who thinks the competition will be "easy" for him is dead wrong.

"I have to reprogram everything I've known for 30+ years to become a ballroom dancer!" McLean said.