Dancing With The Stars 2019: Samuel Johnson's Win Pushes Him Closer To $10mil Fundraising Goal
It was the massive promise he made almost eight years ago, and with a 'Dancing with the Stars' win under his belt, Samuel Johnson is even closer to hitting his goal.
Speaking to 10 daily the morning after his win, Samuel admitted he was still stunned. "In that moment I was thoroughly convinced that I was going to hear Courtney's name," he said, "I'm still processing the fact that the name that came out began with S."
"I've got imposters syndrome," he continued, "but it's overwhelmed by satisfaction at this point."
A strong contender from the beginning, Samuel and his professional dancer partner Jorja Freeman went from strength to strength each week until, in last night's grand finale, they managed to edge out the competition to take home the mirrorball trophy.
Even if it hosts Grant and Amanda kept the final two couples waiting for what felt like forever. "That pause wasn't brutal, it was torture."
But it wasn't all about winning for the 41-year-old Gold Logie winner.
"As soon as I said yes [to Dancing with the Stars] I was committed. The more I committed, the more I found new levels," Samuel said.
"Dancing exposes the best and worst of you, and it was confronting to be so vulnerable in front of the nation. I don't know how dancing brought that out of me and it has been a profound experience.
"My heart is perhaps double or triple the size it was when I started this dancing caper," he said laughing.
Jorja, who had competed in the 2014 season of Dancing said so much of the experience came down to the instant bond the pair formed.
"I don't think Sam really believed me at the start when I told him what he was getting into," she said, "but you spend eight hours a day with someone who is completely out of their comfort zone, in such a vulnerable state and puts so much trust in you... you immediately form a connection very, very quickly."
That connection began to come through in their performances, with their jazz-style performance to Mr Bojangles earning them tons of praise form the judges, and their rhumba scoring them one of their highest scores -- until their final two dances, of course.
The competition also demanded Sam confront difficult moments in his past. While the passing of his sister Connie in 2017 was widely publicised, Sam and Jorja also created performances based on other losses, heartaches and difficult times he has overcome.
"I won't pretend the process was easy," he told 10 daily, "Nothing rewarding is simple."
Confronting the past can be difficult, but for Samuel, the catharsis of it all also led him to a better place in his mental health. Because of that, he said his connection with dance was definitely not ending any time soon.
"I can't walk away from the lessons I've learned, that would be doing a disservice to myself and to Jorja, I must carry this through. I don't want to go back to feeling how I--" he said before pausing for a moment.
"Going through this made me realise just how sh**ty I've been feeling without knowing. Now that I feel so significantly better I'm shocked because I didn't realise it could be so much better."
Admitting he felt "happy enough" before the experience, Samuel said being on the other side of Dancing with the Stars he felt supercharged. "I'm feeling more keenly and more readily, I'm listening more intently, observing more. I move differently, I feel completely in-tune with everything."
"The world was always a bit muted to me, I didn't know that there were so many wonderful sights and sounds and this has truly unlocked something in me that I've been trying to unlock... since I can remember."
Admitting he felt like he had just been converted to a new religion, Samuel said he was standing straighter and walking taller, and those were just some of the physical changes he noticed.
"Make no mistake... dance is magic," he said, "The more you give it the more it'll give you back, it's the gift that keeps on giving."
While dance is celebrated in some cultures, Samuel said we needed more of that, adding he was proud to now wave the flag for it moving forward.
After last night's dramatic finale Samuel also said he had just tipped over another milestone for his promise to Connie.
In 2012, when they founded Love Your Sister, they vowed to raise $10 million for cancer research. Since then Samuel broke a unicycling world record, the pair of them also created a 5 cent coin heart so large it could be seen from space.
Samuel also vowed that he wouldn't return to acting until he had reached the $10 million mark. Following Monday's win of the mirrorball trophy and the $50,000 toward his chosen charity, Samuel said they had just past $9.3 million.
"I'm getting so close to keeping this promise. It's so exciting to know I was dancing toward this goal that I've been pushing toward for over seven years now," he said, "It's a hell of a promise... I better think twice before I make another one."