Now that Xochitl Gomez has made a name for herself even more so after winning Dancing With the Stars in December 2023, she isn't letting fame get to her head — in fact, it's quite the opposite.
"I feel like the most important thing is it's about the fans. I feel like they keep me grounded pretty well. I get to meet them a lot and I get to hear their stories. They're what keep me grounded because some of them fly to Arizona to see me, and I am like, 'Wow, that's crazy.' One girl I recently met flew from Arizona to New York. They want to see you, which is so crazy. You have to be grateful when things like that happen," the 17-year-old, who is partnering with IHOP for the month of February to kick off IHOP's Month of Giving and the brand's annual National Pancake Day celebration on February 13, exclusively tells Morning Honey.
The star is still young, but she hopes to be a an inspiration for others. However, "I try not to think about it too much because when you do, you start getting in your head. You're like, 'Oh my God, people think of me like that,'" she says. "Things can then spiral, and so I think the reason why someone might find me as a role model is because I am myself. I try to voice positivity, and I think that's the goal. I don't try to do anything that puts me at the top because that's not how I think of myself. I just try to be myself, and I think that's the best way to do things."
Ever since the brunette beauty wrapped up DWTS, she's been on the move, as she's currently on the DWTS Tour. "I have not had free time. I think I had a week break, and then we started with rehearsals for tour, which I really liked," she shares. "If I didn't have tour, I'd be at home thinking about the what ifs, what could have happened. Now that I am on tour, I get to see Val [Chmerkovskiy] every single day and see everyone else I have formed bonds with. It's the perfect way to close out this chapter, and I get to be with people I've formed friendships with!"
Gomez still can't get over the fact that people know her name — and how to pronounce it. "To see an older woman say, 'Xochitl, I'm a huge fan.' Like she knows who I am and is a huge fan of mine? It's crazy to see that, but it's also amazing to see how much of an audience DWTS has and how it connects with its fans," she says.
"Going forward, I'd love to continue to dance or star in a musical or be in a movie where dance is involved. That would be the best of both worlds!" she adds.
In the meantime, Gomez, who is still trying to grasp the fact that its 2024, is excited to be teaming up with IHOP for their Month of Giving and Annual National Pancake Day, returning on February 13. "I truly love IHOP. I used to go all the time on the weekends with my family, especially for Christmas. It's a Christmas tradition for us. We go to IHOP and then we go see a movie," she shares. "I'm excited to partner with them this February — also because of their Month of Giving campaign."
"IHOP is a great place for families. It's always about community there," she adds. "I always get the Split Decision because I can't make a decision, and it has a little bit of everything."
To kick-off the Stacking Up Joy program, a nationwide platform designed to bring people together in the communities its restaurants serve — IHOP is partnering with Feeding America® for a Month of Giving campaign that addresses food insecurity in local communities across the United States. Guests will be invited to add $1, $2, $3 or more onto their checks in restaurant or when ordering online. For every $1 donated to the campaign during the entire month of February, 10 meals* will be provided to people facing hunger.
"I've worked with Feeding America® quite a few times, and they're amazing," Gomez notes of the collab.
*From February 1 – 29, 2024, guests will have the opportunity to donate to Feeding America on their checks and through IHOP.com. $1 helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of local partner food banks.
For more information on IHOP’s Stacking Up Joy platform or to find the nearest restaurant, please visit IHOP.com.