Alfonso Ribeiro picks his favorite to win 'Dancing With the Stars' this season
By: Gibson Johns
Alfonso Ribeiro simply knows how to do it. Whether it's competing on "Dancing With the Stars," hosting "America's Funniest Home Videos" or fitting right in on the golf course or the race track, he's constantly keeping his eye on the ball. And -- chances are -- he's probably winning, too.
The the nineteenth champion of "DWTS" recently told us that one of his mottos in life is, "Second place is the first loser." Though he encourages his three children to always enjoy what they do, as an actor who knows that being second best doesn't score you the role, Ribeiro is firm in his belief that you can't succeed without giving your full effort -- and having fun.
At the same time, though, the actor is also quick to recognize things that he can be doing better. One season into taking over for Tom Bergeron as host of "America's Funniest Home Videos," Ribeiro made sure to take a step back before his season go round in an effort to understand what he -- and everyone around him -- could be doing better.
We caught up with Alfonso Ribeiro at the Tony the Tiger Press Conference in Midtown Manhattan last week, and it became clear that his partnership with the Kellogg's brand, which encourages youth to "Let Your Great Out," was a perfect fit for someone with as much natural charisma and work ethic as he has.
Check out our full conversation, which has been edited and condensed, with Alfonso Ribeiro below in which we talk about who he thinks will win "Dancing With the Stars," what he changed going into his second season as host of "America's Funniest Home Videos" and the lessons he wants to teach his children:
See photos of Alfonso Ribeiro out and about:
Let's talk about the season of "Dancing With the Stars" that just started: As a past winner, you must have a pretty good handle on who had a good chance to win. Who are your early favorites?
Looking at the dancers themselves, I think that Laurie Hernandez is the overwhelming favorite to win the season. I just think that her work ethic, her ability to have control of her body and be able to pick up choreography will all be advantages. I also think that being sixteen allows for some of the other competitors to be a little bit closer than they might normally be. Being young it's harder to understand that there's a lot more to it than just on that dance floor - there's a whole other side of "Dancing With the Stars" that you have to understand.
I think that James Hinchcliffe did a really great job the other night -- I was really surprised by him as an Indy Car driver. Marilu Henner is also going to be awesome, and obviously having Derek as a partner does help. He's an amazing choreographer and knows how to tailor things for different people. The problem that Marilu is going to have is that she actually has one of those memories that she forgets nothing. Literally. She remembers everything she's ever seen in her life, and she can recall it in a moment.
The problem is that the way Derek choreographs means that he will switch up and change routines a little bit as they're working on them, so that it gets better throughout the week. The problem is that she remembers every single step the first way she learned it and now has to figure out how to remember the new steps, and I learned that that's a problem for them. But Marilu is a dancer, so she'll be great. You just hope that she has stamina it takes to finish a season, as I -- being 42 at the time [I competed] -- even experienced, almost not making it to the end of the season. Your body just starts to break down.
This campaign with Frosted Flakes is all about "letting your great out." How do you do that in your everyday life?
How do I let my great out? Well, I try to inspire -- especially my 13-year-old to let her great out. I feel like I'm letting my great out almost all the time. I'm lucky enough to have been in this business for 36+ years, so whether it's coming out here [to New York City] at 12 years old to be on Broadway, doing the Michael Jackson Pepsi commercial back in '84 or "Silver Spoons" and "Fresh Prince" and now, we're having such a great time doing "America's Funniest Home Videos," that I constantly feel like I'm having a great time letting my great out. I like to enjoy every moment and allow people to show their comedy and have fun. I'm constantly letting my great out.
Is it harder to do that on screen or off screen?
I don't know if there's necessarily a hard place to let your great out. On camera, there's a lot more to it. Obviously, there are writers and producers and scripts and concepts that you have to fit into. In real life, it's just competition. I used to race cars for a while and, when I'm racing, I want to be the best in the car -- and that's true for life in general, that you want to be the best you can be. I play a lot of golf and, as a zero-handicap, it means that you have to go out there and try to shoot par every time. It has nothing to do with anybody else -- it's about how you perform that day. I love those moments most, because it really is just about me and doing the best that I can do in any given circumstance. But I feel like it's important to have the balance -- balancing it in your career and in your real life.
Are there any other important lessons that you want to teach your kids as they continue to grow older?
For me, the most important lesson is no matter what you're doing, you have to work hard at it and try to be the best, but you also have to find the fun in it. There are a lot of dads and parents who put that kind of pressure on their kids to be excellent without allowing them to find the fun in it. You have to enjoy it, and if you are enjoying it you will definitely be better at it. You'll be inspired to continue to do it, and you'll maybe even inspire others to do it. So that, to me, is the most important lesson that I try to work on with my kids.
You've got to give it your all, though, too. I get in trouble for this a lot, but I've always said, "Second place is the first loser." No matter what you're doing, you're working to get first place and, yes, you might end up being the loser, but the reason why I have that theory in my life is because if you're an actor, one person gets the job. It doesn't matter if you were the second best; you didn't get the job.
So, I work from this perfectionist standpoint, but at the same time I love what I do. So, even when I'm second place, I've had fun giving it my all. I really push people to say, "I'm really going to work as hard as I can and do everything that I can do." On any day, someone can be better than you, but as long as you felt good and gave it your all, that's really all that matters. But you really have to go to win.
Your second season as the host of "America's Funniest Home Videos" just got started. How has your experience on this legendary show been different than what you expected it to be like?
Well, the first season was a little different from, obviously, what we're doing now. You know, the writers were still kind of writing for Tom [Bergeron], but I feel like this season is really going to be a major step up in what we're doing. We're all in sync together and figuring out what we're doing. The videos are better, my tone is better, the voiceover is better -- we've made some great changes to the show. It's all going to help us step up the game just a little bit. If there was something that I needed to figure out, it was how to be a big personality but still talk to that one person through the lens sitting on their couch and not put on a show or play just to the audience.
More from AOL.com:
Donald Faison explains how that epic commercial with all of those famous TV doctors came to be
Julianne Hough: 'I judge my brother harsher than anybody!'
Kellan Lutz talks his love of comedy, going method and what exactly people do at Burning Man