'Dancing With the Stars' Pro Jenna Johnson Thinks Judges Are Being 'Especially Tough' on Partner Karamo Brown (Exclusive)

Dancing With the Stars pro Jenna Johnson-Chmerkovskiy is just as surprised as fans are about the low score she and partner Karamo Brown received from the judges in Monday's "Movie Night" episode. After taking home a 16/30 for their lively jive to "I'm Still Standing" from the critically-acclaimed Elton John biopic Rocketman, Johnson admitted to PopCulture.com she feels the judges are being "especially tough" on her partner.

While judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli warned the pros ahead of the season's start that they would be starting off giving lower scores than in the past, Johnson "definitely thought [Brown] did not deserve fives" from Inaba and Goodman during Monday's judging.

"I think they're especially tough on him right now," she theorized to PopCulture. "I'm not sure why — I'm hoping they see potential in him and want to see him rise to the occasion."

Showing "different layers and different sides of Karamo," the pro added, is her next move when it comes to stepping up in the judges' eyes, as well as working on consistency.

With the Queer Eye star working tirelessly in rehearsal six days a week, getting those low scores is "pretty discouraging," Johnson revealed, saying she's been trying to channel the "immediate frustration and disappointment" to "fuel the fire for the upcoming week."

Brown is "super competitive," she added, which should lend itself to working even harder in the face of this adversity.

"Last week, we were both just dying of sickness, but he still pulled through with an epic performance," Johnson said of his work ethic. "It shows he's a fighter and he's a true performer."

For the fight to continue, however, #TeamJeranamo is going to need some serious support when it comes to fan votes.

"This season, especially with the new voting system, it's so crucial for the fans to be as an engaged as possible," she told PopCulture. "We would love all the votes and we would love to continue this journey!"

In the meantime, Johnson and Brown will be back in the dance studio, going up against what she says is their "cliche," but true biggest competition — themselves.

Fans can vote for #TeamJeranamo, either via the ABC website or by text during the two-hour live broadcast. Viewers get 10 votes per method to either give to their favorite couple or spread out. For those texting their votes, send KARAMO to 21523 to vote for Johnson and Brown.


Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Photo credit: ABC/Eric McCandless