Sharna Burgess has almost 1 million followers on social media, counts Hollywood celebs among her biggest fans and might just be our next Bachelorette.
Sharna Burgess has almost 1 million followers on social media, counts Hollywood celebs among her biggest fans and might just be our next Bachelorette.

Is this our next bachelorette?

It was a pinch-me moment.

Sharna Burgess had just finished performing a dance routine at the G'Day USA gala in Los Angeles when she was stopped by a fan.

As a professional dancer with a growing fan base in the US, Burgess has become used to the attention.

But this time the fan floored her, because it was none other than actor Michelle Pfeiffer.

"She came up to me and said she was a fan of the performance I did and that she's been a fan of mine and that I'm a beautiful dancer," Burgess says.

"And I mean I had a freak out at that moment. I could barely breathe."

Professional dancers on the US version of Dancing with the Stars, like Burgess, can become stars in their own right, cultivating a huge audience following and fan bases.

Burgess, 34, has amassed 845,000 followers on social media after her almost 10-year association with the show which has seen her partnered with Backstreet Boys singer Nick Carter, ex-NFL star Keyshawn Johnson and radio personality Bobby Bones, with whom she won the competition.

But her meteoric rise in the US hasn't been matched yet in Australia, where the Brisbane-born dancer is still able to live a pretty normal life.

"It's been a joke with my friends and family here in Australia for years, I can't walk through an airport in America without being stopped for an autograph or photo, I get recognised everywhere," Burgess says.

"Also the hair is like a beacon.

"But I would come back to Australia and no one knew my name and no one cared, I was just another human.

"It was kind of nice that I would come home and not have that recognition for a while there, especially while I was still understanding fame."

Sharna Burgess and Bobby Bones after they won US Dancing with the Stars.
Sharna Burgess and Bobby Bones after they won US Dancing with the Stars.

Burgess - who is now based in Los Angeles - says she is only just starting to get recognised in her home country after joining the Australian version of the show as a judge.

It's been a long road to success for the striking redhead, who left home at the age of 18 to head overseas and pursue a career in dance.

As an only child to mum Lucy and father Ray, Burgess says her parents were heartbroken when she decided to leave at 18 to chase her dreams.

She admits she was "blind" about how hard it would be.

"I was so determined with my idea of what I wanted and my dreams and goals, I knew that I needed to be in London at the time because that's where the world's best coaches were,'' she says.

"I told mum and dad that's what I needed to do and I made it happen.

"I didn't realise how difficult it was going to be; I was working three jobs to be able to afford to dance and it was by no means easy - I nearly quit a thousand times."

Burgess credits her parents with her resilience and strength, saying they have supported her decisions every step of the way and helped her to navigate "fame".

"It's an interesting thing because I never dreamt of a life of fame, or people asking me for my autograph or being on television,'' she says.

"I wanted to own a dance studio and teach, and so you have to understand what fame means and not allow it to change you and still stay grounded.

"My family and friends were a big part of what's kept me grounded and who I am, and still being the Aussie that I am and not getting caught up in 'Hollywood'."

Burgess is a self-described "goofball": "I am clumsy, sometimes swear entirely too much and I am an open-hearted, heart-on-my-sleeve Aussie."

Her dad lives in Wagga Wagga and her mum in Melbourne, and they are proud as punch to have their daughter on their television screens, telling their neighbours, friends and anyone who will listen to tune in on Sunday nights.

Sharna Burgess and her mum at the Melbourne Cup.
Sharna Burgess and her mum at the Melbourne Cup.

Burgess says she never envisaged another career for herself, saying dance was her "therapy" and how she learnt about who she was as a woman.

"I learned about my sensuality and my strength and resilience, it was my training ground for everything I am as a creator and as an artist,'' she says.

"But also it nurtured me into the woman that I am today.

"It's incredibly transformable and powerful. Dance for me over the years - and even as a kid - was like therapy."

Her trademark red hair - which came about by accident when the natural blonde and her colourist decided to try something unique - has shaped her identity in life on and off the dancefloor, and has even created an online sensation with its own hashtag #sharnared.

"It somehow unlocked this other part of my personality, like this vixeny, Jessica Rabbit sassiness,'' she says.

"It started to come through more and more in my dancing like a costume or a superhero suit and I love what it brought out of me, and now I honestly don't know how I'm ever going to change it. It's part of me."

While Burgess has the world at her feet, she has faced difficulties becoming the confident, sassy and vibrant person she is today. She recently opened up to her fans about her battle
with anxiety.

"A couple of years ago for me I was on tour for DWTS (US) and there was a couple of things going on in my family - some big things - and at the same time there was a lot going on with me and in my own head," she says.

"I realised I was just incredibly unhappy and I shouldn't have been. I had everything I wanted, my career was going amazing and I should have been on top of the world, and yet I woke up every day with anxiety and I was overly sensitive about things I didn't need to be."

Burgess consulted in a doctor in LA, notoriously known for "giving you whatever you want", but when she was prescribed a bottle of pills she realised she needed to make some life changes, and threw them away.

"I realised I couldn't do this, I don't need a substance to make me feel happy,'' she says.

Sharna Burgess at Emporium Hotel South Bank. Picture: Mark Cranitch
Sharna Burgess at Emporium Hotel South Bank. Picture: Mark Cranitch

Since that moment two years ago, Burgess has been practising gratitude, and started focusing on the positive things going on in her life rather than the negative.

"I'm mastering my mornings, waking up early, making time for me and making time to practise gratitude before I focus on what anyone else needed from me," she says.

Burgess says she was "married to her work" for a long time, and vowed not to date for two years to discover who she was without a man beside her.

"It was amazing, I focused on me and started to build my own career and life and understand what I wanted or needed and those two years quickly turned to four - which is where I am now," she said.

Today, after successfully discovering herself, Burgess is single and ready to meet the one - and wouldn't rule out being the next Bachelorette.

"I've built my life, and I'll continue to build my life - but now I want to share it with someone," she says.

"If I'm still single when it (The Bachelorette) comes around, it might be a 'why not?' but as of right now I don't know.

"I do work in reality television and love it, and I do love the show, but I also wonder if I'm really suited for it. I think my mouth could get me in trouble.

"It could be epic and I could find the love of my life, or it could be a complete disaster. I overthink it and panic a little."

She says she has had some horrible dates in the past and even tested a celebrity dating app in America, which she quickly swore off.

"Everyone is compared to thousands of others by a single photo, it's not meeting a person and capturing their energy and learning if you have a vibe," she says.

"I still have this old school idea that someone is going to link me up with a person, or I'm going to be in the supermarket getting vegetables and someone is going to ask me out and he'll be the love of my life.

"I want that old school romance, I'm not entirely sure Tinder is going to do that for me."

Sharna Burgess at Emporium Hotel South Bank. Picture: Mark Cranitch
Sharna Burgess at Emporium Hotel South Bank. Picture: Mark Cranitch

In terms of her perfect Mr Right, Burgess says she would "love" to meet an Aussie man.

"My life will be between two countries for the rest of my life, it will be Australia to America," she says. "I would love to raise my kids in Australia."

Filming the new season of Dancing with the Stars in Australia as a judge, Burgess is happy to be back home and close to her parents, and says she is excited for fans to get to know her.

"I'm grateful I can share my talents and what I've learned being on television, and I'm really excited for people to get to know me now,'' she says.

"I have my heart set on being back in Australia more.''

 

Dancing with the Stars is on Ten, Sunday night at 7.30pm


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