America's Sweethearts are back for the seventh season of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team with a two-hour premiere Friday, Sept. 7, at 8 p.m. The series, which follows the audition and selection process for the NFL's most iconic squad, has been expanded to 11 episodes this season due to its popularity and it will include behind-the-scenes footage from auditions, games and the calendar shoot in Mexico.
We had a front-row seat for the first auditions in May and several rehearsals along the way. We were also able to watch some of the show being filmed, including on Tuesday night at Cowboys Stadium. I can attest that Making the Team is the real deal, and probably the closest you can get to the inner workings of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders without being a member of the team.
The show focuses on the selection processes and the tough choices that must be made by Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Director Kelli Finglass, choreographer Judy Trammell and Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Charlotte Jones Anderson.
The show also takes a close-up look at the women competing to make the team.
"The cameras catch everything," five-year veteran Melissa Kellerman said. "But it is the same camera crew that comes every summer so it is not quite so unnerving to always have the cameras around. I would say I am definitely not nervous."
In past seasons, the show has focused primarily on the rookies and their quest to fulfill their dreams of joining the best cheerleading squad in the NFL. With the extended CMT season, look for veterans such as Kellerman, Cassie Trammell, Whitney Isleib and Sydney Durso to have a larger presence on the show.
While most of the girls say they are most often recognized from the games, second-year veteran Mackenzie Lee said she gets spotted from her appearance on the TV show. "It's funny the amount of 8-year-old girls that know my name and know about me from watching the show," she said. "It's what I love, being able to interact and be a good role model. It's really cool."
In addition to their starring roles on Making the Team, these ladies also appear on the most-watched program on television -- the NFL. While it may seem like a natural transition for them to move into acting, singing or broadcasting, most were totally focused on being members of the DCC, because of their passion for dance and their desire to be role models.
Five-year veteran Sydney Durso was the exception. "I love being on TV," she said. " I actually really love talking on TV, so sports broadcasting or maybe even reporting the news is definitely something I would love to do later on and I hope that I would be pretty good at it."
The premiere episode will be a special two-hour presentation that kicks off with the auditions with more than 600 ladies at the stadium and wraps up with the announcement of the lucky few who advanced to go through training camp. In the process, the time comes to say goodbye to several returning veterans.
There are several rookies featured in the premiere including Chelsea Elizabeth, who drew her inspiration to audition from her cousin who passed away from cancer. Another rookie who gets a lot of face time in the first episode is Jenna Lene. She was living with her family in South Korea when she saw the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders perform during a USO tour and decided to come to Dallas when she turned 18 and chase her dream of joining the DCC.
As many fans of the DCC are aware, the ladies have taken to social media as a way to interact with their fans. Their official Twitter accounts can be found at @DCCheerleaders. According to second-year veteran Brittney Schram, "there is a good possibility that several of us will be live tweeting during the premiere."
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on CMT.
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