LOVE FAMILY

Bettina Love and her family appeared on Disney Channel's "Fam Jam" competition show. (Courtesy/Evans Ward)

Bettina Love, an associate professor from the Mary Frances Early College of Education at the University of Georgia, does research on hip-hop education and black girlhood. She’s a former elementary school teacher, an author, a wife and mom. She has a pair of 9-year-old twins who are classically trained dancers. They go to dance practice almost every day, or at least they did until the coronavirus outbreak.

But recently, a message from Disney Channel producers shook up the Love family’s normal, day to day life.

After seeing the twins’ Instagram account, which they use to share their talent for dance, Disney Channel reached out to the Love family about appearing on a new show, Disney Fam Jam.

Fam Jam is a competition-style game show where two families compete in a dance battle for a prize of $10,000. The show is only in its first season but offers something different from the cartoons and sitcoms that normally air on the channel.

Love said the process took two months from the initial contact to performance and it included several Skype interviews and background checks. After getting through the paperwork and logistics, though, the family could start planning their performance.

Love said although her household loves Beyoncé, they ultimately chose to dance to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” Although Love focuses her research on hip-hop culture and education, that doesn’t mean “[she] can move,” she said. She joked that she couldn’t have people know she’s a hip-hop researcher and educator who can’t hip-hop dance.

They also got to pick their own costumes for the performance, decked out in 70s disco-style jumpsuits and rainbow platform shoes.

The family worked with choreographer Phil Wright to plan their performance to a tee and their hard work paid off. When watching their performance, it’s easy to see the talent the Love family has for dance.

Even classically trained dancers have to battle nerves on stage. Lauryn Love, one of Bettina Love’s twins, said this was something she had to overcome.

“I couldn’t feel my legs,” she said, “but that didn’t hold me back.”

And it certainly did not. The family won their episode of Fam Jam, bringing home the cash prize and trophy. Chanson Love, Bettina Love’s son, was proud of his family’s accomplishments on the show.

“Winning Fam Jam was awesome because all the work and effort my family put in,” he said.

The Love family’s win on the show was bigger than just the cash prize and trophy, however. They are the first queer family to win a Disney Channel game show, Love said.

Post their big break with Disney Channel, the Love family is settled in at home amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Love was back in elementary school teacher mode, saying she had just come inside from “recess” during her phone interview with The Red & Black.

Love said although she’s experienced some anxiety over the coronavirus pandemic, she felt some relief as well.

“[There is] relief that you’re healthy and you’re home, that you’re able to provide for your family,” she said.

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