The A Plus Interview

Stephen 'tWitch' Boss Reveals How Working With Ellen DeGeneres Makes Him A Better Person

"Be kind to one another."

For Stephen Boss — better known by the name tWitch — the ultimate road trip is something that's going to have to wait. That's because the 35-year-old is a stepdad to wife Allison Holker's 9-year-old daughter and semi-new father to a 1-year-old son born in March 2016. But, when the time comes, he will load up his family and take them from coast to coast. For now, though, they'll have to settle for visiting all the "dope spots" around Los Angeles.

tWitch — who recently partnered with Enterprise Rent-A-Car for their new Instant Insider program — told us he loves to drive and loves hitting the road. During that cross-country adventure, it's his goal to hit up beloved locations such as Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and the redwoods in California to, you know, "make sure they're real."

Other than that, it'll probably be up to Holker — a fellow So You Think You Can Dance vet — to plan the trip. "That's where the opposites attract and marrying your better half comes in," tWitch, who said he likes to "play everything by ear" while Holker, 29,  "is great at planning." This, he notes, is one example of how they "balance each other out"  in life.

A Plus up with tWitch to discuss everything from SYTYCD, on which he has appeared multiple seasons, to The Ellen DeGeneres Show, on which he is host Ellen DeGeneres' DJ. Aside from that, though, we discussed going from being an Alabama boy to a Los Angeles man, the impact of dance TV shows, hip-hop's place in the dance world, and the advice he would give his younger self.

A PLUS: You come from Alabama and now live in Los Angeles. I’m from North Carolina and live in New York City. How do you balance the small town and big city mentalities?

tWitch: As you know, Southern hospitality is a real thing. So, for me, what helps me draw the parallels is that even though we're in the big city, these are still all my folks. When I'm walking around, I say hello to folks [and] when I step into an elevator I say hello to folks. The geography is bigger, absolutely, but I still feel a connection to the L.A. folks because we all live here, we breathe the same air, and we sit in the same traffic for hours at a time, so there's no reason I can't say what's up to people. I think that's the biggest thing for me, keeping the Southern hospitality.

What helps me, too, is — and I don't know about you — but I love having my regular spot, the place that I go and eat at regularly or my favorite clothing spot. I think that kind of stuck around with that hometown feel because, even though there's so much variety in L.A., I still kind of revert to being a creature of habit. That's something maybe I took with me. When you have time to venture out and find new things, it's that much more significant because you have your spots you hit so you leave room to be introduced to new things.

What impact have dance shows that have come about in the past decade or so — from “America’s Best Dance Crew,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” and now “World of Dance” — changed the art form? What’s their impact on the art form?

The landscape of dance has changed so much now. It used to be, if you found somebody in the early to late '90s before So You Think You Can Dance and other shows like it came on, the conversation would basically go like this: "What do you do?" "I dance." "Oh, cool." And that'd be it. Whereas now, with these shows, there's not really a lack of knowledge to what a dance career can do. It leads the conversation into other things and there are so many points of reference. Shows like this really help dance become a main character like it was back in the day when Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, and Ginger Rogers were doing their thing. You knew them by name because they were lead characters, and there was no shame and shade in saying that you were a dancer. It was just as prestigious as saying you were an actor or a singer.

With all of its attention in pop culture these days, how has the public's perception of hip-hop dance — which is more underground — evolved when compared to the more traditional genres?

The knowledge is so much more vast now. As you said, hip-hop was more of the underground, but when So You Think You Can Dance introduced krump routines, popping routines, and lyrical routines, you start adding more tiers into something that you just knew a little inkling about. 

With that being said, the hip-hop culture is still on the underground and it's ever-developing. That's one of the beautiful things about it, that as these things are getting discovered and developed there's something new always going on. It's just more widely accepted now, which is super dope because now you have a wave of all these awesome choreographers who have a platform to show their stuff and an audience that is hungry to watch it.

In your opinion, are great dancers trained or born?

There's definitely some that were born with it, those who were born with an innate sense of dancing. But I also can't count out those that find it along the way and have to work hard to hone their craft. There are some people who are at the top of the line right now that I remember when they started and it was like: "Man, you're looking a little rough now, bruh. Not only do you have two left feet but both of them are stuck to the floor." Whether you're born with it or not, you can have the willpower to really equip yourself and educate yourself as much as possible. It absolutely goes both ways.

You’ve been in a few of the "Step Up" movies. What's one important time you stepped up and faced something headfirst?

Listen, I'm from Montgomery and this was before YouTube and So You Think You Can Dance. It was before you could say "I'm going to have a career in dance" and it actually be something people could understand and be like "OK, cool." Making the move to Los Angeles and not having anyone out here to show me the way or even to reassure my parents that everything's going to be cool. I'm going to Los Angeles to pursue a career that you've never heard of, but everything's going to be cool. The hurdles and the explanations that one has to go through — not only for other people but just to reassure myself that everything is going to be fine. 

To me, that was actually one of the biggest hurdles because the moment that I made the choice to leave and came out to make the move, everything started falling into place. The people I met were people I would eventually work with, like Wade Robson and Dave Scott. These choreographers I was watching on the television then became part of my peer circle — people that were once my idols and are still my idols, to be honest — and I was that much closer to them. That reward came from stepping out onto a foundation that I didn't really know was there. For me, it's about taking that risk, man. Once you do that, everything else kind of falls into place — especially if your heart is in it.

If you could tell your younger self a piece of advice, what would that be and why?

OK, this is a twofold answer. The first one is to relax. You got it, meaning you got it, you already know the desire is in your heart and you have the willpower. I used to worry a lot about what people thought of me because I started late and I was insecure about my skills at dancing. Especially when I was standing next to a trained dancer — somebody who has been dancing since they were 3 years old, could pick up choreography like that, could turn a million times, and could kick their leg over their head. I would go back and tell myself not to worry about it, to chill, and that you got it.

And then secondly, maybe the most important thing, let's go ahead and stay away from that blond hair dye. It seemed like a good idea at the time but, looking back on it, let's go back and skip that whole part. You can just grow a regular 'fro, it doesn't have to be a blond 'fro.

You’ve been on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" for a few years now. How has working with the amazing Ellen DeGeneres rubbed off on you?

It's the same line she says at the end of every one of her shows, simple and almost cliché: "Be kind to one another." That goes such a long way because we don't have to agree with each other for me to be kind to you. You can have different beliefs than I have, but I can still be kind no matter what. We're just people, I'm not diving into your beliefs and saying you're wrong. We're both people, we're both capable of love, and so let's move forward with that and just be kind to one another. I've literally watched her do that for years and years. Whether it be something going on out in the world that is affecting us all — that I don't really have to name, I'm sure there are many things you can think about — she still comes in and is able to talk about touchy issues and still make people laugh but also think. That comes from a premise of just being kind. 

And here's the truth: she's Ellen DeGeneres and she could have any mindset she wanted to. She could be like, "Nope, I don't agree with that, this is what I'm going to say about it, and I can be mean about it." But she is like, "Nope, with the platform I have, kindness is definitely going to be the best answer." Now, when I encounter anybody who is less than humble, especially on that kind of status, I'm like, "You need to slow down, bro. Ain't nothing that serious."

You’re right, the show spreads so much positivity. What’s an inspiring situation you’ve seen happen that maybe we didn’t get to see as viewers?

I've seen firsthand things that might be considered taboo some places have a place in which they can be expressed unconditionally and to not be judged. Even throughout the commercial breaks and all that stuff, for instance, there have been guests who have recently come out to their parents, whether they're young kids or something like that, and the parent might be having trouble latching onto the correct words to say. In that space, they're surrounded by so much love that I literally get to see the wheels shifting. Even if they don't have the correct answer at that moment, they're surrounded by so much love that it provides them a paradigm to think, "Everything is actually going to be OK and even though this hit me in a place where I didn't have the best understanding of it, I'm around people now that are showing me a completely different side of life." 

To me that's the most important thing, to remain open-minded. That's something that I've got to realize every single day. With so much going on and with so many different opinions, in that space everyone is family. No matter what you believe, no matter what's going on, everyone's family because we're laughing, we're dancing, we're having a good time, and — no matter what you've got going on — we're going to be there for you.

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The A Plus Interview reimagines the celebrity interview by inviting artists to answer a short series of brief, poignant questions that strive to be more meaningful than those asked by others. Visit on the last Thursday of each month for the latest installment.

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