Sadie Robertson Sadie Robertson

Sadie Robertson may have been introduced to fame by appearing on the A&E show Duck Dynasty, but she says she hopes her time on Dancing with the Stars will allow her to be seen as her own person.

"For my whole life I've kind of been shadowing what my family says," Robertson, 17, tells TVGuide.com. "They'll say something about my faith and I agree. But now, it's time for me to say, 'This is who I am as well.' I'm not hiding behind my family anymore. I'm sharing my faith by myself, which has helped me to be more bold and more confident saying things. It's the same God; it's the same faith. It's just my opportunity to share it in my words. And I have enjoyed it. It's been good for me and I've grown a lot from it."

Not that Robertson's shy about sharing her Christian values on Dancing. Last week, she and partner Mark Ballas butted heads a bit over just how sexy they needed to make their Latin Night rumba. ("We accomplished what we needed to accomplish," Robertson says of the dance, which earned them a 35 out of 40 from the judges. "It wasn't sexy.")

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Read our full Q&A with Robertson to find out what has her "scared" about her and Mark's next dance, as well as details about the Halloween-themed team dance and Sadie's thoughts on the controversial opinions of her grandfather Phil.

You got very emotional after your rumba this week.
Robertson: 
I guess you all could tell that last week was pretty hard for me. It was really stressful, and I wasn't getting the dance down, and Mark had been telling me all week, 'You're not going to get good scores because you're not doing a sexy rumba and that's what they want to see.' ... And I was like, that's okay because I would rather get a bad score from the judges than know in my heart that I did something that I'm not comfortable with. So, when we went out there and we did it, after the dance, I was so nervous because I just knew I was going to get ripped to shreds by the judges. That's what I had been trained to think was going to happen. So when they were so respectful of the dance and they loved it and appreciated me standing up for what I believed in, I just kind of felt like God blessed me with the judges liking the dance. ... It just paid off to do the right thing, and it just made me really emotional to finally get the hardest dance so far, in my opinion, out of the way and just be done with it. It felt really good.

Obviously Mark has been really concerned with respecting your family's beliefs and values throughout. What do they think of him?
Robertson:
 Mark's actually been out to the house twice now, and he really is so respectful of everything that we've asked. He is a trouper, because we really have pushed him to his limits. We've changed the dances and he has just been wonderful with making the changes that we need and making it great. And my family and him are so close. They love him. They, like, want him to date my older sister.

Has your dad had any more problems with your costumes?
Robertson: 
We have full say in what we wear. So any time you see anybody wearing something on the show, that is what they picked to wear. And for me, not only does my dad want me to dress modestly, I do too. And so, Mark's been great with that, and really understanding our concern and our faith, because he's also a Christian.

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What do you and Mark do for fun when you're not dancing?
Robertson: 
Mark took me to Universal Studios one night and it was horror night. ... I am, like, the scared-jest scaredy-cat ever, and I was freaking out. It was so bad. But yeah, me and Mark have gotten very close.

What was the biggest difference between working with Derek during switch-up week, versus working with Mark?
Robertson: 
They're very similar, but the biggest difference is definitely their style as far as teaching the dance. ... Whenever Mark teaches me the dance, he already knows the whole dance. He has already choreographed it by the time that I come into the studio. Derek, however, makes up the dance as we practice. And so, he had nothing. We didn't know the dance until Friday. We didn't even finish the choreography until Friday. With Mark, we get in there Wednesday and we have the whole thing. I know I'm good by Thursday. So it was really different.

This week will feature team dances. How's that going?
Robertson: 
Yes. Because it's Halloween Week, our team is called Team Creepy. That was not our original name, but that's what it's ended up as. It's me, AlfonsoAntonio and Tommy Chong. A good group. We only get to have two rehearsals. That's the tricky part. Monday night after the show, we practiced until 12:00 at night, and that was just for the pros to get the choreography. And then [Friday], we had our second and last rehearsal, and that was for them to teach it to us and us to get it all down. Can you imagine? It's ridiculously crazy. It's different for me because I'm 17 and it's easy to learn, because I'm in school and I'm active and I can do that. But for Tommy, on the other hand, he's in his 70s. It's a little harder. So, we're getting there. We're having a little bit of a hard time, but we're getting there. We all have to really be on our game, because if anybody messes up, we've just got to keep going.

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And what are you and Mark working on for your individual dance?
Robertson: 
We are working on the paso doble, and the story line is that I'm a little girl that's going through a cemetery — typical, right? — and then Mark is a zombie and he comes out of the grave and he's chasing me. The whole thing is very Halloween-themed. I honestly think it's kind of creepy, I'm not going to lie. I'm literally scared while we dance. Because he's going to be dressed as a zombie, and I don't do well with zombies.

Do you feel an added sense of pressure now that you've come this far in the competition?
Robertson: 
We have reached the halfway point now, so ... it's a whole different ballgame. Now it's like, okay, it's a race to the end. The final's right around the corner. We've got to work. It's definitely a change, and it is harder. Mark's a little more stressed. All the pros are more stressed.

Have you had any injuries so far?
Robertson: 
I've only had minor things. I have lots of bruises and cuts and aches and stuff. But nothing major, and you can't really complain because everybody has gone through some injury. My toenail fell off the first week, so the whole first week my foot was killing me. But you just work through it because that's what everybody does.

What's your schedule like in a typical week? Are you going to school as well?
Robertson: 
It's my junior year in high school. I play basketball. I play tennis. I'm a normal kid and I wasn't sure if I wanted to take on moving to L.A. [for Dancing]. But I'm so, so, so glad I did, because it's been an amazing experience. ... It's very crazy. Mondays are really crazy because we usually get there by 8:00 in the morning. This Monday we didn't get done with dancing until 12 at night, so it was like a 15-hour day. So that's all day. There's no room on Mondays. But Tuesday through Sunday, it's normally just seven hours a day of practice [laughs], not that it's easy. Because I'm being home-schooled this year, I usually do my homework after that at night. And then whenever I travel back to Louisiana, we film Duck Dynasty. So that's the life of Sadie.

Your grandfather's said some pretty controversial things. Is it important for you to stand up for him on the show, or do you hope that since you're on Dancing with the Stars people will start to see you as your own person?
Robertson: 
It kind of goes both ways. My family is so supportive of everything I do, and I'm supportive of everything they do. We're just a very close family. We love each other and we're there for each other, no matter what happens to anybody. Grandpa Phil could have said anything and honestly, I would always stick by his side because he's family. I may not agree with everything he says, but I'm not going to ever go against him, if that makes sense, because he's my family. That's just how we work. So it's hard because everybody views him as a very opinionated person. And he is, but he's also a very, very nice man if you know him.

Are your parents surprised at how well you've done on Dancing?
Robertson: 
Oh yeah. Everybody's surprised. I'm surprised. I didn't think I was going to do this well. I go home and watch the tape and I'm like, wait, is that me? Did I do that? It's so weird because I've had no dancing [experience]. This is totally something new for me. But it's been really fun.

Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC. Which pair are you rooting for?