It’s been a long time since Bec Hewitt competed in the very first season of Dancing With The Stars.
Back then, she hadn’t even fallen pregnant with her first child. Now, her third child, keen dancer Ava, is old enough to be giving her advice as she prepares for Dancing With The Stars: All Stars.
“My youngest daughter is running me through stretching sessions and then some strength and conditioning,” Bec, 37, tells TV WEEK. “She definitely knows her stuff.”
Bec, then Bec Cartwright, defeated Pauline Hanson to take the mirrorball trophy back in 2004.
The following year, she married tennis champion Lleyton Hewitt and left Home And Away, where she’d played Hayley for seven years.
Aside from travel show Helloworld, Bec has barely been seen on TV since, knocking back plenty of offers over the years.
“We’ve travelled around so much and I’m not really in the one place long enough to commit to any project that goes for a certain amount of time – and it’s just got to be something I really love to have that time away from the kids and everything else,” she explains.
“But this one just felt right, doing something that I love. It wasn’t about getting back on TV, it was about getting back into dancing.”
Bec, who’s mum to Mia, 15, Cruz, 12, and Ava, 10, admits she did wonder how she was going to juggle DWTS: All Stars with her family responsibilities.
“When I first was asked I actually forgot the show was now filmed in Sydney,” she says.
“We’re based in Melbourne, so I was thinking, ‘Okay, logistically, how can I do this?’ because the kids have so much on. But of course you make things work. The kids are great and they’re so supportive and so excited that I’m doing it.”
In fact, it’s made Bec realise that she could do more TV.
“Now that I know that this can work, I might be able to take on a few more jobs from time to time.”
So could that mean Hayley returning to Summer Bay? Bec’s not sure about that right now, but says she would “never say never”.
“I definitely owe so much to that show and I love all the cast and crew,” she says. “So I will definitely pop in for a visit.”
What Bec would really like is to take on a role that’s a long way from her “bubbly personality”.
“I think being a bit of a bad girl would be kind of cool, to really push myself,” she says. “It would just be fun and something a little bit unexpected for people to see a different side of me.”
Over the years, as Bec has focused on her family rather than her career, she’s helped her three kids find their passions.
“I just really wanted to make sure they got to figure out what it is that they love, and we want to nurture that.”
While Ava’s passion is dance, Cruz has already started to make a name for himself in the world of tennis.
“You have to drag him off the tennis court,” Bec says.
“He’s very committed and he just loves tennis. If he’s not playing tennis he’ll be watching YouTube videos about tennis. So he’s definitely going down that path. As long as he’s enjoying it we’re happy.”
As for Mia, Bec says she’s a “beautiful soul”, who will work in the fashion industry.
“She’s a great illustrator and designer as it is, and she already sews. She has made coats with lining and pockets and all sorts of things.”
For the Hewitts, lockdown last year was “actually fine”.
Bec says Mia, Cruz and Ava are “very self-sufficient” when it comes to schooling, and they all kept up their activities as best they could.
“But the best bit about it is I properly learned to cook, because I wasn’t racing around, driving the kids around in the evenings,” she adds. “I needed to be forced to do that so I’m really grateful and I think my kids are too.”
She says before the lockdown, meals would be “a bit of Uber Eats, a bit of me cooking – but not to the degree where I am now, where I make everything from scratch, my dumplings and my sauces and all that sort of stuff”.
It was during Melbourne’s more recent five-day lockdown that Bec made the decision to go on DWTS: All Stars.
“I hadn’t done any kind of fitness or gym or training for about two years going into this,” she explains.
“When I decided yes, I probably had three days before I was about to start my dance rehearsals. So I quickly decided I’d better start hopping on the treadmill… which is going to do nothing, three days out.”
Bec says she got terrible blisters in her first few days of rehearsals with dance partner Craig Monley “because I’m not used to wearing high-heeled shoes”.
But she’s been loving the dancing, as well as the chance to catch up with longtime friends in the cast, including her former Home And Away co-star Ada Nicodemou.
“I adore Ada. She hasn’t changed, and for us it’s like no time has passed. Luke Jacobz and I have been friends for about 22 years, and I grew up with Kyly [Clarke] and we went to the same dance school, so it definitely has been a big reunion.
“I’m really happy I decided to say yes.”