Witney Carson went straight from American Fork High School to “So You Think You Can Dance” to “Dancing with the Stars.” And now she’s headed to the Game Show Network.
The Utah native is teaming up with her former “DWTS” partner Alfonso Ribeiro — they won the mirror-ball trophy in 2014 — on a revival of the game show “Catch 21.” The show, which premieres Monday on GSN (4 p.m. Dish and DirecTV; 7 p.m. Comcast), is a mixture of trivia and blackjack. Ribeiro is the host, and Carson deals the cards.
She’s sort of the Vanna White of this game show, and she’s “loving” it. But her father, Tyler, is at least a little bit disappointed.
“My dad is a big Game Show Network guy. He loves the game shows,” Carson said. “He really wants to be on [‘Catch 21′]. And I’m, like, ‘Dad, you can’t be on it. I’m the dealer. People are going to think that I’m cheating for you.’”
It is not a coincidence that Carson and Ribeiro are back together on the show.
“Actually, I heard about this job from Alfonso,” she said. Ribeiro hosted an earlier version of the show on GSN from 2008-11, and he suggested Carson as the new dealer.
“Alfonso and I definitely have a natural chemistry from dancing together for 15 weeks, every single day. And we’ve stayed connected and close throughout the years,” she said. “We have this bond that is just kind of easy and fun and natural.”
And, yes, they do dance together a little bit at the top of each show “just to make it fun.”
Carson said the offer was “definitely very unexpected” and “kind of threw a little bit of a curve ball” in her career plans. “But I was really excited to try something different because ‘Dancing with the Stars’ has been my whole life for six years,” she said.
(She’s dancing with Kel Mitchell this season, her 11th in a row on “DWTS,” which airs Mondays at 7 p.m. on ABC/Ch. 4.)
She was “very nervous” when production began, and she admits, “It seems easy. I just deal the cards, and I read a few lines on the prompter, but it really is harder than it looks.”
Sitting at home on the couch watching “Catch 21,” it looks smooth. But Carson described the process as “grueling” because they filmed six episodes a day — a total of 65 episodes in two weeks.
“So it was just really, really crazy and grueling in a different way than ‘Dancing with the Stars.’” That show is “obviously very stressful” and physically challenging. “But this was, I think, a little bit more mentally challenging.”
She and her husband, Carson McCallister, spent two weeks in Las Vegas while the game show was shooting, and they “made it a little bit of a working vacation.” But only a little bit. She was also getting in shape for “DWTS” — she had only a one-week break between the two shows.
By the way, she remains an “avid watcher” of “So You Think You Can Dance,” the show that gave her her start when she was just out of high school. Carson finished third among the female contestants in 2012. (There were two winners that season, one man and one woman.)
She would “really love” to return to that show as one of the all-stars (former contestants who partner with current contestants) “sometime in the next few years.”
If she can find the time. In addition to her television endeavors, she signed a deal to be an ambassador for L’Oreal cosmetics, and she’s got her own line of activewear, Capri. And she’s hoping “Catch 21” will open up other opportunities once it “lets people see me in a different light.”
“I can’t believe everything I’ve been able to do in the last seven years,” said the 25-year-old. “I feel really blessed.”