Culture / Entertainment

How Charlotte Jones Brought the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders to Netflix

The New Series from the Director of "Cheer" and "Last Chance U" is a Streaming Sensation

BY // 07.05.24

America’s Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders hit Netflix on Thursday, June 20, primed for weekend binging. Based on the streamer’s “Top 10” lineup since the series dropped, the glossy, seven-episode docusoap has been devoured. Viewers of CMT’s long-running Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team (which ran from 2006 to 2021) will recognize the premise. Each summer, hundreds of DCC hopefuls travel to Frisco, Texas and dance their way through a rigorous audition process to form the year’s elite squad of 36. But America’s Sweethearts, directed with panache and extreme precision by Greg Whitely (Cheer, Last Chance U), presents the subject with far more depth, showcasing a clear look at one of America’s biggest pop cultural phenomena.

That unvarnished view into Dallas’ well-oiled sports machine was important to Whitely, who initially turned down a meeting with the Cowboys believing his filmmaking process would be too tightly controlled. Charlotte Jones, executive vice president and chief brand officer for the Cowboys, ultimately convinced him. 

I thought, Well, I’m never going to turn down a meeting with the Charlotte Jones of the Dallas Cowboys,” Whitely shared in an interview with Glamour. “So I flew out there, and I was so impressed, it forced me to take a harder look at this world.” 

“I believe we both were wanting to see if we understood what was important to both sides and that there was an equal amount of respect, and ultimately trust, to work together,” Jones tells PaperCity

Reece Americas_Sweethearts_Dallas_Cowboys_Cheerleaders_E5_00_44_56_10
Reece in “America’s Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders” (courtesy of Netflix)

In addition to the cutthroat audition drama and elite dancing (the squad’s mesmerizing “Thunderstruck” routine was destined to become a TikTok trend), Whitely’s series is equally fueled by the vulnerability of the women who don — or have donned — those iconic Lucchese boots. We spend time with first-year Rookies like Reece, a devout Christian whose tryout was so sizzling a male judge asked to pause the audition process to fan himself. Veteran cheerleader Victoria welcomes us into her Coppell, Texas bedroom absolutely bedecked with DCC paraphernalia, but also opens up about the pressure and impossibility of perfection. As the cheerleaders’ individual stories unfold, difficult topics such as stalking, sexual assault, and low pay aren’t glossed over. (For more commentary, however, I highly recommend the “America’s Girls” podcast by Dallas-based journalist Sarah Hepola, who was also interviewed for America’s Sweethearts.) 

As the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders’ fame soars to even more astronomical heights (America’s Sweethearts was watched for 687 million minutes in its first week with thousands Googling “what do the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders make?), we asked Jones for her thoughts on the new Netflix series. 

Charlotte Jones addressing the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders
From left to right: Charlotte Jones, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders director Kelli Finglass, and DCC choreographer Judy Trammell.

Paper City: America’s Sweethearts is quite different from Making the Team. What are you hoping the series showcases about the world of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders? 

Charlotte Jones: I believe this series showcases the talent, work ethic, intelligence, integrity, and impressiveness of these young women and what motivates them to want to audition for the role of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. We also wanted to highlight the multi-decades of tradition and how six decades later the women who have shared in this sisterhood hold a special place in their hearts for their experience. I hope viewers and fans will see how authentic they are, what they gain from this experience, and the profound impact they make on the lives they touch.

Was there anything about the Netflix series that surprised you? 

Like viewers, we were learning what their lives are like beyond the studio and beyond the field.  Everyone has their our own story, their own journey that not only brought them to where they are today, but will take them to their next step tomorrow. Unpacking that, their joys, their struggles, their disappointments, and their accomplishments was inspiring to watch.

What else would you want viewers to know about the filming process or the DCC? 

Greg and his team were the consummate professionals.  Although we were not privy to all of his shoots, his artistry and his genuine care for the women involved, and how he presented their individual stories was powerful.

Can we expect a season two? 

We sure hope so!

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