TV Guide: Because you were a competitive skater as a kid in Canada, some people think you have an unfair advantage. Aren't you kind of a ringer?
Jillian Barberie: Well, I hung up my skates at 13 and I'm 39 now: You do the math. It's what I did as a kid after school to kind of keep me out of trouble, and I loved it. But by the time I was 13, I wanted to go to movies and hang out with my friends and go out with boys. I wanted to major in boys.
TV Guide: But you're able to do lots of things jumps and spins the other stars can't even attempt.
Barberie: Yes, but that also sets me up because it leaves less room to improve. And so the judges' expectations might be different than they are of other people.
TV Guide: So after 26 ice-free years, how did it feel to be skating again?
Barberie: It felt like I was 6 again. At one point I was out on the ice doing twirly-twirls and I thought [pro partner] John [Zimmerman] was laughing at me. He said, "No, I'm smiling because you look like a child." Most of the time when people see me on TV, I'm brash and very opinionated and irreverent and glib. People tend to love me or hate me and a lot of them just think I'm annoying. But this might show them a different side of me. I think it made me more vulnerable.
TV Guide: On the first episode, when [judge] Dorothy Hamill praised you, why did you get so emotional?
Barberie: When I was growing up, she was the ideal of beauty and skating. I had a Dorothy Hamill doll. I had her haircut. So a compliment coming from her pretty much floored me.
TV Guide: Now that the show has finished taping [the finale airs Feb. 27], are you still skating?
Barberie: No! All my friends know me as the girl who doesn't work out. So when they saw this, they were shocked. It was like I had this secret I'd been keeping for years, that I really was an athlete.
TV Guide: You didn't get addicted to being in shape?
Barberie: It was awesome. I got cut. I lost weight. I had, like, an eight-pack and my arms were really toned. It was fun to have for a while, but I wouldn't want to be like that all the time. It's too much work. I got mixed reviews from men. I lost a lot of my boobs my boobs are real, contrary to popular belief and some men thought I looked too hard. I like having curves more than muscle.
TV Guide: You do a lot of live TV [Good Day L.A., Fox NFL Sunday], and your on-camera persona is that you can't find a boyfriend despite being an attractive woman who likes dirty jokes and sports. How can this be?
Barberie: I don't know. It would be nice to have someone in my life, but it's really hard in L.A. to meet people who get that you're a working woman and enjoy your career. It's just hard to meet quality guys. They're all married or gay, that's what I always say.
TV Guide: Are they threatened by your career or your hours?
Barberie: I don't think men want women with careers for the most part. I think they would rather have a woman who's waiting for them back in the nest, raising the children. Which is great, but I'm not that girl. I think there are more and more women out there like me: divorced, in their thirties, with careers. That's a deterrent to some men.
TV Guide: When was the last time you went on a date?
Barberie: Oh, jeez, I can't even remember. The thing is, I almost never get set up and I won't ask a man out. I'm just very old-fashioned that way. And I think that there are some guys I might like who won't approach me.
TV Guide: Oh, please.
Barberie: They don't! Unless they're rock stars or athletes or men who can get any woman they want. And I don't want those guys. I want a guy who's, like, working and schlepping all day, not leading some sort of extravagant lifestyle.
TV Guide: So rich, famous men need never apply?
Barberie: Oh, no I've dated them, too. [Laughs] But it's not what I want. And if someone famous asks me out, my first thought is, "Why would he want to go out with me?" It's a real catch-22.