Bright studio lights cast heat on the Greens while sweat trickles down their faces; the final dance routine is over, and with a sigh of brief relief, the Green family stands together hand in hand, waiting for the final judgement. The contestants are frozen in anticipation, watching the studio audience submit its final vote. Did their hard work pay off?
“Me and my family were watching ‘The Ellen [DeGeneres] Show’ and my favorite choreographer was on there,” explained Dominic, the Green family’s oldest. “[He] was talking about a new show coming out called Fam Jam.”
Dominic, who has been dancing since he was just three years old, asked his parents, Devin and Ashley, if they could try out for the unique opportunity. And so started the long journey to the “Disney Fam Jam” stage.
“Disney’s Fam Jam” is a family dance competition series inspired by choreographer Phil Wright’s “The Parent Jam™,” a viral online dance class. Each episode features a different family competing for the coveted “Disney Fam Jam” champion title along with $10,000 and a Fam Jam trophy.
“There were a lot of steps we had to take to be selected,” explained Ashley, a Health Equity Consultant Contract Manager at the Washington State Department of Health. “First, we had to submit a family video, so we made our own choreography.”
“I was shocked,” said Sgt. 1st Class Devin Green, an Artilleryman assigned to 3rd Battalion, 358th Field Artillery, 189th Combined Arms Training Brigade, First Army Division. “I am not really a dancer so as far as choreographed dancing, that wasn’t my thing. I was just like if that’s what y’all want to do I’m game for it.”
The Green family recorded their choreographed dance routine and submitted the video. Soon after, representatives from Disney reached out to the Green family to proceed to the next step, the interview process.
“There were a few levels of interviews that we had to go through,” said Ashley.
The Green family patiently waited about five months before finding out they were accepted into the show. Devin’s unit and command team were more than understanding of the situation.
“My unit was actually extremely supportive,” said Devin. “I would tell them that I didn’t know what was next or when it’s happening, but that when the show calls I need to be ready to go. They told me not to worry about it because they’d have someone cover down for me when I go.”
The Green family received the acceptance call from Disney that they were to be featured on a special heroes themed episode of Fam Jam. The actual show was filmed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When I was a kid I dreamt of being on Disney,” said Devin. “I never thought I would be taking my own children to be filmed on a Disney Show.”
Upon arriving to the recording studio in Los Angeles, California, the Green family hit the ground running. They conducted even more interviews and attended several dance classes with a professional choreographer.
“It was very time driven, like the Army,” explained Devin. “Everything had a strict set time, so we were always on our feet.”
Ashley describes the long days and even longer nights while training as the best.
“We woke up very early in the morning and wouldn’t return to our room until late at night,” said Ashley. “Even though we were exhausted from the dance class, we continued to practice once we got back to our rooms.”
Ashley and Devin both agreed the whole process was exhausting. Dominic, however, had a different way of looking at things.
“We were dripping in sweat after each dance class,” said Dominic. “It was a really fun experience and we worked really hard!”
The show was filmed in front of an audience that would decide the winner by a vote. The Green family had one performance to show off their skills to the audience.
“Once we got dressed and ready to go it was show time,” said Ashley.
The Green family gave the best performance they could possibly give. After the performance, both competing families waited on stage for the results.
“We were just waiting, nervously, to hear the results,” said Ashley. “The audience had their voting devices and we were just watching them. It felt like time had stopped.”
The host announced the Green family as the winners! They high-fived and hugged everyone around. Devin loves winning the competition, but the experience was more than just that.
“It was a competition and I have a winning mentality,” explained Devin. “I’m also a sucker for a good trophy, but sharing that once in a lifetime moment with my son was the best award I could have won.”
“As a military family, it’s hard for Devin to be with his children,” explained Ashley. Devin has been on four deployments since Dominic was born.
“The bonding time between [Devin] and Dominic was amazing to see,” expressed Ashley.
Surreal as the entire experience was, the Green family realized the importance of spending time with family.
“You miss out on birthdays, holidays, first-time experiences being in the military,” explained Devin. “This moment made up for so much of that.”