The pure joy that radiates from Dexter Mayfield is contagious. He laughs frequently and smiles even more. He is enthusiasm personified. That energy has helped launch his career as a model and dancer, walking the runway for designers like Marco Marco and Fenty, and shimmying alongside superstars like Jennifer Lopez, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift. Now Mayfield can add being the highlight of the Come Dance With Me judging panel to his list of accomplishments, because with a sparkly, smoky eye and the crack of an unfurling fan, all eyes are on him. On the CBS reality show, aspiring young dancers are joined by their supportive but untrained adult family members to (hopefully) dance their way to the top. And yes, it's every bit as touching as you would imagine -- just ask Mayfield. We did.
What did youconnect with most in Come Dance With Me? It really gets people, specifically the parents and the adults, out of their comfort zone. And these are people that come from every walk of life.... It's an extremely diverse show. And to see all these parents go for it for their kids just made my heart warm. And it's also something I can identify with...so many of the parents aren't the natural body or the associated body we think of when it comes to dance.
How did youfirst become a dancer? I wanted a form of fitness that I enjoyed, that didn't feel like a chore, something that fed my soul...and I just fell in love with it and moved to L.A. around 2009. I hit the pavement runnin' and was in class and training and training and trying to get experience. Throughout my entire time here, every instructor, my fellow students, my fellow dancers...have been encouraging. They say, "Just keep going, keep going. You are here for a reason. This is something that you know you need to do."
How was theexperience of being on a judging panel? Initially, my thoughts on judging were I am extremely nervous. Being a dancer, we don't often get to use our voices. So this is the first time that I physically get to use my voice...and I just felt empowered.... It's so nice to be heard and to be received and to really be taken seriously as an artist. One of the overwhelming things that I took away from this experience is that my voice counts, it matters.
I love howthe show is both wholesome and unapologetically queer. From the jump they wanted me to be my authentic self, my whole self, my most elevated self. As you can see in the first episode, this is not a typical look that a cisgender male would be providing onstage. But that's part of who I am.... Regardless of whether you [don't] want us to say the word gay, queer, trans, and everything under the umbrella of our community, we're still here. We still exist. And if you don't want us to say it, well, we'll show it to you in every way possible.... Like you said, it's wholesome. Included in that "wholesome" are queer people.
What do youhope audiences take away from Come Dance With Me? You have a dancer in you. And if you want to let that dancer shine, baby, please shine.
This story is part of The Advocate's 2022 Champions of Pride issue, which is out on newsstands May 17, 2022. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe -- or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.