America, get ready: Tavis Smiley's putting on his dancing shoes and practicing his foxtrot.
The talk-show host, political commentator and "Death of a King" author talked to HuffPost Live on Thursday about his eagerly-anticipated "Dancing With The Stars" debut, which can be seen on ABC this Monday.
"I can't tell you what song we're dancing to, although it is a Motown artist -- one of the coldest ever," he told host Marc Lamont Hill. "I'm dancing to some soul Monday night on ABC, and the foxtrot is the dance we're going to be doing. But I'm about to turn 50 and just really decided I was going to do one last foolish, stupid, crazy, insane thing before I turned 50, and so this is clearly it."
Smiley explained that he hasn't had much experience with dance as a result of his religious upbringing.
"I was raised in such a strict tradition that I couldn't listen to secular music," he recalled. "I couldn't go to dances. I had to sneak to watch 'Soul Train.' In high school, I was junior and senior class president, but I couldn't go to prom."
Nonetheless, he's feeling optimistic about what he can bring to the show.
"Now I'm 50 and I can get my groove on because I'm black, so you know I got some rhythm. It's in my DNA," he continued. "But I never really learned how to dance... I just love dance period, but I never thought I'd be doing it!"
Smiley previously declined "two or three" prior offers by the "DWTS" producers, reticent to learn how to dance on national television out of fear that it would distract from his other work. Now that he's agreed, he prides himself on having realistic expectations.
"I asked one of my team members to put together a DVD for me of the worst -- not the best -- the worst dancers to ever appear on the show, and then I can judge my chances of how long I might survive," he said. "Can I just say, I love all these people, they're friends of mine -- but I can do better than Master P."
Smiley's primary goal on the show is simple: "I don't want my black card to be taken away from me!"
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