Dancing With The Stars

Why Bindi Irwin is actually the perfect person to judge Dancing With The Stars

The show's newest judge was once a DWTS champion!

By Rebecca Sullivan
If you're not a die-hard Dancing With The Stars fan, it might have come as a shock to find out that Bindi Irwin, everyone's favourite animal conservationist, is appearing on the show on Monday night - as a judge!
We're used to seeing Bindi decked out in her casual khakis, snuggling up to adorable Australian animals.
But what you might not know is that she's also a sensational dancer, who looks incredible in a sequin leotard.
In 2015 when she was just 17 years old, Bindi won the American version of Dancing With The Stars, alongside her gorgeous dancer partner Derek Hough.
So that's what makes her qualified to sit alongside current judges Sharna Burgess, Craig Revel Horwood and Tristan MacManus, and offer her two cents about the celebrities' performances.
"After winning in the USA, I can truly appreciate what a life changing journey this is," Bindi told TV WEEK.
"I'm so looking forward to sharing my own perspective judging on this special night."
Bindi and her dance partner Derek Hough strutting their stuff on the dance floor in 2015. (Image: ABC)
Look at her fly! (Image: Getty)
What made Bindi such a popular contestant on DWTS wasn't just her excellent technical dancing skills, but the way she danced with raw emotion.
Bindi's time on the show was tough, as she battled against the grief she suffered following the death of her father Steve Irwin, who died in 2006 after being stabbed by a stingray.
When choosing a dance that captured her "most memorable year", Bindi chose to dance about her father's death.
She broke down several times during filming and also burst into tears at the end of her performance, which she dedicated to the late animal lover.
"What shaped me the most would be when my dad passed away," Bindi said on the program.
"It's been nine years, and I've never really dwelled on that point when he did pass away, so I think that I'm ready to tell that story," she said.
"This dance is for my dad and my family and for everyone back home."
WATCH BELOW: Bindi Irwin cries while talking about her father Steve on Dancing With The Stars. Story continues after video.
Bindi left both the audience and judges in tears with her heartbreaking, honest performance, and was awarded 28 points out of 30, including the first perfect score of the 2015 season, and shot to the top of the leaderboard.
She also received a standing ovation and her Steve Irwin tribute went viral online, with the video racking up millions of views.
It was Bindi's honesty about her grief - and her refusal to shy away from it - that really endeared her to the audience.
"I remember when I was a little girl saying 'I want to be just like Dad when I grow up', and I still feel like that," she said.
"It took a really long time to understand what actually happened for the rest of my life I'll kind of feel like he's gonna come home."
WATCH BELOW: Bindi Irwin dances her heart out on DWTS
Steve and Bindi pictured before his death in 2006. (Image: Getty)
Bindi was just eight years old when Steve died at age 44.
Her mother Terri has described the pair as "inseparable".
"Bindi was so strong at the time, but when you love someone that much, it's like totally losing a piece of your heart," Terri said. "You're really not going to get over it."
But despite experiencing such intense grief, Bindi and Derek went on to win the competition, taking home the coveted disco ball trophy.
However, even thought she won fair and square, it actually took the then 17-year-old months to claim her $AUD 509,000 prize money.
Because she was legally a minor, according to California law a judge must approve contracts made on behalf on a child, which includes the parents waiving any rights to the child's salary.
Of course Terri signed over her rights, but bizarrely the court said they failed to also have the father sign off.
That was clearly impossible, given Bindi's father is no longer around.
Eventually, the judge signed off on the money - which included a base salary, then extra funds for progressing through the competition - and Bindi was able to access her prize money.
"We're all good. It's all sorted now," she told TMZ in 2015 when asked about the status of the contract. "Yeah, we're all happy."
The pair were ecstatic when they realised they had won! (Image: Getty)
Bindi and Derek celebrating with their trophies. (Image: Getty)
But if you thought Bindi was going to take that money and use it for herself, you're wrong.
She declared that the money would go back into her parents' charity Wildlife Warriors.
"Everything that I make goes back to wildlife conservation," she told TMZ.
"We have conservation projects all over the world ... It's wonderful. It's who we are."

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