ZB

Shock DTWS elimination: What went wrong for Eli Matthewson?

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 4 May 2022, 1:57pm

Shock DTWS elimination: What went wrong for Eli Matthewson?

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 4 May 2022, 1:57pm

Eli Matthewson and Jonny Williams are still reeling after their shock elimination on Monday night's episode of Dancing with the Stars. 

The pair made history as the first same-sex pairing to appear on the show – but despite scoring high with all their performances, they were sent home in the second week of the competition. 

Now Matthewson and the charity he was dancing for have opened up about the challenges Rainbow organisations face – and whether that may have been a factor in his elimination. 

A spokesperson for Matthewson's chosen charity OutLine, which provides mental health help for LGBTQIA+ individuals, says it's hard to say what was behind the low public vote. 

"I like to think that it wasn't overt homophobia of people trying to vote against Eli," she said. 

"But I also believe that it's harder for Rainbow celebrities, and Rainbow charities, to break through and grow large platforms in this country, and the size of that platform really shapes what you can achieve – especially in a popularity-based competition like this one." 

Matthewson agrees the fact that OutLine isn't well-known could have been a factor in the lack of votes. 

"We filmed a whole package about OutLine and we didn't get to show that," he told Newstalk ZB host – and fellow Dancing with the Stars competitor – Kerre Woodham on her NZME podcast Inside Dancing with the Stars. 

"But regardless of the charity not being well known and people not voting, that's all the more reason to spotlight that charity – it's something that doesn't get that support." 

Williams told the Herald yesterday that despite the lack of votes, the feedback had been overwhelmingly positive. 

"I've had so many comments and messages from people, but maybe when it came to voting the urgency wasn't there." 

He notes that even after his elimination, countless Kiwis chose to donate to OutLine. As of 2pm yesterday, donations head reached $10,000. 

And partner Jonny Williams told the podcast host he didn't realise how much of an impact a same-sex dance pairing would have on the audience. 

"I was pretty oblivious to the fact that I was dancing with a guy and what it would mean to people," he said. 

He also revealed the pair didn't want to "show any gender" with their dances. 

"It did create some difficulties but it was a challenge – it lit a fire under me and I had an amazing time. I wouldn't change partners to stay in longer." 

Former Dancing with the Stars judge Candy Lane also weighed in on the elimination, telling Woodham it was "another big loss" to the show. 

"It's tough because the popular ones that get the votes obviously are staying in and it helps with their charity and we all want that, but at the end of the day, we want a final with the best dancers. 

"If we're not careful, we could end up with a popularity dance-off. And the judges need to make it really clear what they're looking for."