Grace: An unapologetic victims’ advocate

Women's Impact Report 2011: Nancy Grace

When Casey Anthony was acquitted of killing her 2-year-old daughter earlier this year, HLN’s Nancy Grace famously told viewers “the devil is dancing” at news of the verdict.

Now it’s Grace who is practicing some fancy footwork.

The former Atlanta prosecutor is following her exhaustive coverage of the trial by competing on this season’s “Dancing With the Stars” — and no one is more surprised at the news than she is.

Anthony’s trial hadn’t even started when Grace got a call from the producers. “I thought it was a joke,” she says.

Grace’s sojourn into sequins and samba caps off a year when she saw the ratings for HLN’s top show soar (+14%) vs. the same period last year, with June delivering 1.5 million total viewers. The day of the Anthony verdict, the show had its best day ever with 2.9 million total viewers.

“I think the media piles on because the media loves to talk about the media,” she says, unfazed by the criticism she received for her prosecutorial approach in covering Anthony’s case. “Obviously what I had to say carried no weight with the jury — and it should not have. It certainly didn’t with O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake. I don’t do my show at night for the media and I’m not doing ‘Dancing With the Stars’ for the media.”

Grace has never made any secret about being a victims’ advocate.

“Ever since 1979 when Keith (Griffin, her fiance) was murdered I have been single-minded about putting bad guys behind bars.” Now a married mother of 3-year-old twins, Grace is also a passionate supporter of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and is giving the group her “DWTS” paycheck.

Her identification with crime victims has earned her legions of fans who helped her three books hit the bestseller lists and just might give her a leg up on “Dancing.” “I feel like Cinderella getting invited to the ball. I don’t know what I’m going to wear, but I’m going. They’re gonna have to throw me off.”

Role model: “My parents”
Career mantra: “I can work harder”
Hobbies: Cooking and reading “I used to like to jog, but I don’t have time for that anymore obviously!”
Philanthropic passion: Named Person of the Year by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “That’s a really big deal to me.”