'Dancing With the Stars' Judge Carrie Ann Inaba on Tyra Banks' Debut: 'Talk About Setting a New Chapter' (Exclusive)

Dancing with the Stars debuted its new look with its season premiere on Sept. 14, with more than one change attracting people to watch. A few names on the celebrity cast list turned heads, including Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem & Madness star Carole Baskin, but also the news that Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews wouldn't be returning to host. That news left jaws on the floor when it broke, leaving all eyes on replacement Tyra Banks. In an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com, DWTS judge Carrie Ann Inaba gave her thoughts on new host Banks' debut and who she thinks stood out in week one.

"It was amazing" Inaba gushed over Banks' first episode as host. "That first moment when she came out and the red dress, and then, listen, I'm a dancer, a dancer loves a good walk and those first four steps — which was boom, boom, boom, bam! I mean, talk about setting a new chapter." She continued, "I think she really told the world where she's taking the show. She put her stamp on the show and I thought the stamp was great."

Inaba did note that since the couples did not perform in front of a live in-studio audience, Banks balanced and energized the ballroom the second she stepped on the dance floor. "It brought a lot of high energy and it brought a new level of pizazz that we didn't have. And so kudos to Tyra. I thought she did an amazing job. I also thought Derek Hough was a perfect fit in the panel and it was great between Len Goodman. Always good to see my brother Len, but it was also great to welcome Derek to the panel. I thought he did an excellent job."

With famous names on the list like AJ McClean, Jeannie Mai, Johnny Weir, Nelly and Skai Jackson, several celebs stood out for a number of reasons. However, coming from the dance professional herself, Inaba revealed who stood out to her in week one. "We have a lot of very talented dancers, I was truly impressed with the amount of talent that I saw on the dance floor. Everyone has a slightly different game plan because they all have slightly different strong points and they're working to their strong points."

She continued, "But I will say that Justina Machado and Nev from Catfish, they really stood out to me the most because it was so unexpected to see how good they were. I think Skai also. I kind of had a feeling she might be good though, just because I've seen some of her kick rock moves and she's got the moves already. But I was surprised by Nev and Justina and didn't expect that." She did admit that she expected a lot from the former Backstreet Boys boyband member because "we've seen him perform his whole life" commenting that "he's very good."


Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. For more on Carrie Ann Inaba and your other favorite celebrities, keep it right here at PopCulture.com.