The latest unmasked contestant dishes on her famous family, and why she passed on doing the show previously.
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Warning: This article contains spoilers about Wednesday's episode of The Masked Singer.

The Phoenix has taken its final flight on The Masked Singer stage. In the first elimination in Group B, the majestic bird was unmasked to reveal Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete and reality television star Caitlyn Jenner. Ahead of the unmasking, Jenner spoke with EW about which of her famous family members knew she was doing the show, the surprise way her son Brandon helped her, and why she initially turned down the opportunity to be on The Masked Singer.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You seemed to fit right in on the show — you gave Ken Jeong a hard time and everything. Were you a fan of The Masked Singer beforehand?

CAITLYN JENNER: Oh, I had seen the show, yes. And actually, I was asked to do it much earlier, and I said no. One, it's kind of not my thing, and I was real busy at the time and I didn't think I had the time. I don't need to do it. I said no. And then, during this horrible pandemic that we've all been through, and dealing with this, they call. Now all of a sudden I had nothing but time. And I've always said to my kids, "Don't be afraid to take risks in life." That's how you grow as a person — trying new things, trying things that you're uncomfortable with — because then that'll become your new norm. And so I thought, well, maybe I should practice what I'm preaching here and try something totally out of my element with something like this. And so I said yes. Then I panicked a little bit. "Oh my God, I've got to sing and dance!" And, yeah, it was a big time commitment. It was a lot of work.

THE MASKED SINGER: Caitlyn Jenner in the “Shamrock and Roll”
Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

The Phoenix seemed like a really great symbolic choice for you. What went through your mind when they presented it to you, and how involved were you in its creation?

Well, I have to give hats off to the costume designers and the seamstress that put that thing together. It was amazing. I mean, when I did the ESPY Awards a million years ago, Donatella Versace did that white outfit I was wearing, which was absolutely brilliant. But I saw the work that went into that. I mean, they were sending people from Italy, and this and that, and oh my god, it was just amazing what they were doing. That was nothing compared to what the costume designers for The Masked Singer have to do.

First of all, we started months in advance, figuring out what the character was going to be. I wanted a character — Phoenix — that was not really masculine, but not really feminine. I wanted something in the middle, because I thought they would have a hard time recognizing who this was because my voice really doesn't match who I am. I get that. I get criticized for it all the time. I can handle it; I really don't care. So I got to kind of play this gender neutral character. And so we started coming up with some designs for it. That's why I wanted, instead of just the big skirt and the long train, to have it open in the front, and have pants on underneath. Make it a little bit more masculine. With three or four fittings, every time I came back, I was just absolutely amazed with these costume designers, and these tailors that were putting this thing together, it was unbelievable.

Did you tell anyone you were doing the show?

You are sworn to secrecy when you do that show. You sign paper after paper. You cannot talk about it. And I had a couple of issues here. One, I had these songs that I had to learn, okay? There was a vocal coach that they gave you, which was all done on Zoom online, but they were living in upstate New York, you know. And so I called up my son, Brandon [Jenner]. Brandon is an extraordinarily good singer. He's got his own band. He writes all his own music. He does everything himself. He's got his own studio in his house a few miles away. I tell Brandon, "Guess what? I'm doing this, and I've got to sing these songs and you've got to help." He goes, "Oh, my God, this is so cool. I'm gonna help!" So I went down there and started working on this. I had three songs down. Unfortunately I only got to one. I had three songs down, I was ready to go. I actually would have liked to get to the second show, because the second show I thought was a little bit better. I was doing a Temptations song "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." So I was ready for that one. "TiK ToK" was kind of tough, because it's really out of my element and there's so much timing inside of it. So, when you're on stage, they give you earplugs and so you hear the music through your ears. And so Brandon actually developed a track that would play in my ears to help me with the timing on "TiK ToK."

Caitlyn Jenner
Credit: Robin Marchant/WireImage

Oh, wow.

So, yeah, while I was up there on stage, I actually had Brandon in my ear, going, "Okay. 3-2-1, go." And then count me down some in the middle and at the bridges, so I could keep the timing of it on as best as I possibly could. But it was not easy. I mean, not only did I have to learn all these words. I have to learn the song, I have to learn the timing of the song, then I go and we've got choreography all at the same time, you know? I mean, I have a new appreciation for Jennifer Lopez. My hat's off to that girl, what she can do, that is tough to do. My mind is like so confused. And so anyway, Brandon helped me with a lot. So obviously he had to know. The only other two I told, because my family are professionals at keeping secrets, were [daughters] Kendall and Kylie. I told both of them because we're really close. And I said, "You can't believe it, girls, this is what I'm doing." And when I told them I was doing The Masked Singer, they both said the exact same thing: "Why are you doing that?!"

They didn't want you to do it?

Well, I said, "Why? I love a good challenge, number one, you know that. Number two, we're living through this pandemic. I've got nothing else going on right now. They asked me to do this thing. Why not step out of the box, try something new?" You know, I really didn't realize how difficult it was going to be at that time. I thought, eh, I can do this. But it was a lot of work. But I would suggest any other celebrity out there who gets asked to do this, that they give it a shot. Once it was all over with, which was very quickly, it was a good experience to go through.

What surprised you the most about doing the show?

How much I sucked at doing "TiK ToK." [Laughs.] I thought I would get it down better than that. I had practiced it so much. I literally had that song going through my head for the next week after that show was on. And I thought maybe I should have probably started with the Temptations song because that's a little easier to do. "TiK ToK" is tough, I mean, timing wise. And it really wasn't the right pitch for me or anything about it. It was difficult to do. So that's probably the biggest surprise.

Another major show you've been a part of over the years, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, is coming to an end soon. How do you feel about that?

In some ways sad, because it's kind of an end of an era for the family. So that's kind of sad. I think it brought our family so close together for so many years. And, you know, everybody kind of goes their own direction. When we started the show, Kendall and Kylie were in I think junior high or grade school, somewhere in there. The girls were still basically living at the house, they were just ready to kind of go out into the world. And fortunately, because of the show, it opened up other opportunities for them. So for that we're forever grateful to the show and what it was able to do. Fortunately, because of the show, they were given the opportunity to unleash their entrepreneurial skills, and they've all done very well with that. And they've all been very smart, so I'm not worried about any of them. They'll all stay very busy and who knows what else they'll do in the future?

Hear more on all of today's must-see picks, plus what Generation star Martha Plimpton is watching, in EW's What to Watch podcast, hosted by Gerrad Hall.

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The Masked Singer

Celebs compete in this reality-singing TV show while wearing elaborate costumes to conceal their identities. Can you guess the celebrity behind the mask?

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