Each week on Dancing with the Stars, Jordan Fisher and his partner, Lindsay Arnold, wowed audiences with their routines. But the pair’s contemporary performance would be truly special – both for its beauty and for the story behind it. And Fisher let his childhood inspire the dance, which meant that he had to share his past trials with the world.
It was during Fisher’s younger years, however, that the actor and singer started to perform, since he earned a part in his school play, School House Rock, Jr., as a fifth-grader. He then went on to enroll in Birmingham, Alabama’s Red Mountain Theatre Company as a member of the youth group.
From there, Fisher caught the eye of a talent scout and moved from his native Alabama to Los Angeles, California, in 2011. And in Hollywood, his career took off in both music and on television. He released songs on Radio Disney and through Hollywood Records while also nabbing roles in a number of TV shows, including iCarly, Liv and Maddie and The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
But it would be Fisher’s role in 2016’s Grease: Live that would change everything. The TV network Fox staged and broadcast the musical event, in which Fisher played the role of Doody – who, somewhat appropriately, is a wannabe musician.
And after Grease: Live aired, Fisher’s performance – which included a live version of “Those Magic Changes” – became the musical’s break-out star. In February 2016 Cosmopolitan even dubbed him a heartthrob, which he found “sweet,” he told the magazine.
Fisher also explained to Cosmopolitan that he had had no idea what Grease: Live would do for his career. He said, “I didn’t really expect [it]. You can’t really prepare yourself. I feel like last night was a Super Bowl moment – and I’m looking forward to the next one.”
Fisher didn’t have long to wait to find himself on a similarly huge stage, though, as he became a part of Dancing with the Stars’ 25th season in 2017. In an October 2018 interview with Romper, he described the dance competition as having been “difficult,” since the contest was both “very physically demanding… [and] emotionally and mentally exhausting as well.”
And in one particular episode of Dancing with the Stars, Fisher would prove just how much emotion could be infused in a dance. As part of that week’s theme, “Most Memorable Year,” the contestants chose the years in their lives that meant most to them; they also came up with dances to represent those times.
On the show, then, Fisher revealed the year that he had picked and the touching reason why. “My most memorable year is 2005, because it was the year that I was officially adopted,” the actor and singer said on Dancing with the Stars.
With that, Fisher then launched into the story of his youth. “My biological mother had me when she was 16 and then struggled with substance abuse. Drugs can make somebody very selfish,” he continued.
For Fisher’s grandparents, Pat and Rodney Fisher, however, the decision to take him in appeared to have been an easy one. “He was the cutest thing I’d ever seen. His hair stuck straight up on his head like he’d stuck his finger in an electrical socket,” Pat recalled on Dancing with the Stars.
Rodney, Fisher’s grandfather, concurred. “When I first looked at Jordan, it was joy. He’s just so happy and smiling. I just remember playing ball, taking him fishing [and] having a good time with him,” he told the show.
And with his grandparents raising him, Fisher would never look back. “They were always mom and dad to me. They’re the best, so I think this week’s going to be my dedication to them,” he said prior to his dance.
What’s more, Fisher’s grandmother and grandfather would ultimately make their adoption official. Rodney told Dancing with the Stars, “The day we adopted Jordan, the anticipation – it was just building up.” The gavel would eventually fall, though, and he would officially be their son in 2005.
Rodney added that the approved adoption “was almost like, you want to jump up and holler… It was so awesome.” And for his newly minted son, the piece of paper meant so much more than just legal guardianship.
“I think there’s something to be said about a document legally proving something that you know to be fact already. That slam of the gavel, [it’s] kind of like being reborn,” Fisher said. He then revealed that the whole process had “saved” him.
And as Fisher began to cry, he told Dancing with the Stars, “[Adoption] literally saved my life. It could’ve been really tough for me, and it wasn’t. And I was so loved.” Before his adoption-inspired dance, he added, “I’m so grateful for [my grandparents].”
Fisher would subsequently earn the first top marks of the season for that dance and ultimately go on to win Dancing with the Stars with his partner. His career continued to rise after his run on the show, too; he’ll star in the live television version of the musical Rent in 2019.
And, heartwarmingly, Fisher continues to laud his adoptive mother and father. He told Romper, for instance, “I have incredible parents. No offense to every other mom and dad in the world, I have the best – in terms of the selflessness and [the] acts of service and kindness they’ve showed me and how to walk and live.”