TV

Mary, Queen of Screams

Mary Murphy has to be one of the busiest women in dance, with a full-time position as a judge on Fox's So You Think You Can Dance, her own ballroom dance academy, national dance championship titles, her organization Chance to Dance, and guest judge roles for SYTYCD competitions around the globe.
September 1, 2009

Mary Murphy has to be one of the busiest women in dance, with a full-time position as a judge on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance, her own ballroom dance academy, national dance championship titles, her organization Chance to Dance, and guest judge roles for SYTYCD competitions around the globe. But viewers perhaps know her best for her trademark ear-piercing ‘Woo-hoo!’ and for inviting particularly good dancers onto the ‘hot tamale train.’ All aboard…

Which celebrities are on your wish list to appear on So You Think You Can Dance?

For three years I was saying ‘I wish we could have Ellen [DeGeneres],’ and my biggest dream came true! That was so surreal to me – I’d look over and she’s sitting right next to me, bantering with me.

I wish Catherine Zeta-Jones would dance or judge on our show and I know she’s a huge fan. If you’re going to ask me to put my wish list out there, I’d love it if Hugh Jackman came on the show! He sings and dances a little bit and he’s pretty much game for anything.

If you could partner with any dancer, dead or alive, who would it be?

It would have to be Fred Astaire. I loved watching him and Ginger Rogers, and the easy fluidness of their movements and just the old song and dance [style]. I always wished that I could sing and dance, and I’m just a horrible singer [laughs].

If you happen to have any downtime, what reality shows are you watching?

When I had more time I was slightly addicted to Girls Next Door. I’m not really sure why, I just found it fascinating! Of course I do watch American Idol when I can catch it. I’ve seen bits and pieces of The Bachelor and I find that pretty funny.

Do you think TV will be oversaturated with too much dance, with SYTYCD on in the fall for the first time, competing with ABC’s Dancing with the Stars?

I don’t think so. I think the two dance shows are completely different and [have] a completely different audience base. You’ll find that we’re much stronger in the 18 to 49 [demo] than Dancing with the Stars and I hope there’s room for both of us.

You’ve been a guest judge on SYTYCD formats in different countries. Which country would you like to guest judge for and why?

I love going to Canada. Canadians are just about the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. I love going to Australia. One place I haven’t been to but I’d like to as a judge would be South Africa. The show is seen widely now and one of my drivers turned around and said to me, ‘You know, you’re very big in Uganda,’ and I said, ‘Really!?’

On to the trademark scream – do people ever scream at you on the street?

Absolutely! Usually they say, ‘I want to be on the hot tamale train, Mary,’ and then they give it a ‘Woo-hoo!’

About The Author
Selina Chignall joins the realscreen team as a staff writer. Prior to working with rs, she covered lobbying activity at Hill Times Publishing. She also spent a year covering the Hill as a journalist with iPolitics. Her beat focused on youth, education, democratic reform, innovation and infrastructure. She holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University and a Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.

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