Movie star, TV host (the seasontwo finale of her reality-competition show World of Dance airs in the US this month) and producer are now part of Jenna’s multi-hyphenated description, but dancing is still what moves her.
If you’ve seen 2006’s Step Up, you’re familiar with the precise-yet-fluid, insane-strength requiring moves she’s known for. You’re also familiar with the crackling chemistry she had with her co-star, Channing Tatum. That chemistry sparked off-screen as well – the two married in 2009 and four years later they had their daughter. But the famous chemistry sadly dimmed enough for the couple to call it quits early this year.
“It’s been a journey, and it’s been a transformation of myself – my needs and wants as a woman,” Jenna says of the past year. “I think everyone wants to hold on to what’s in front of them, but when you open your mind, saying, ‘I want what’s best for myself and my daughter,’ you have to be OK with however that looks.”
In this case, it was a parting of ways. In April, Jenna and Channing announced their split on Instagram.
“I feel I’ve been on a wave of growth,” she says. “It does look different; it’s a new normal, and I really think we’ll get used to that.” And though she talks about the uncoupling with an air of practised positivity, she admits it’s been far from painless. “It’s always challenging to go through a big change and have the whole world have an opinion about it,” she says.
I realise towards the end of our chat that neither one of us has mentioned Channing by name. But when I grab the bill from our server, it bears an inescapable reminder. The reservation name the restaurant has in its system is printed in all caps at the top: DEWAN-TATUM.
Jenna assures me she views the situation less as an ending and more as an evolution.
“It’s OK for a relationship to change into a new form that is actually better for both people involved,” she says. “I think that’s maybe what shocked everyone so much – that it can be a positive thing. That was ultimately what happened with us.”
Emerging from that change is a woman clearly in the process of coming into her own.
“I did a lot of work healing from the inside out, becoming more in touch with my womanly power,” she says. “It was always, ‘I’m a dancer,’ or ‘I’m married,’ or ‘I’m an actress.’ Over the past couple of years, it became about learning about myself.”
Read our full chat with Jenna – including her response to mum-shamers and why dance will always be her go-to workout – in this month's Women's Health magazine, on sale Monday August 6.