updated 04/06/2012 AT 2:00 PM ET
•originally published 04/06/2012 AT 3:00 PM ET
Jaleel White hopes fans will judge him by his tango – not the recent tabloid headlines.
“My relationship with Kym should speak for itself in [terms of] … what’s going on on the dance floor,” the former Family Matters star, 35, tells PEOPLE.
Also not on his mind: the people who’ve nicknamed him “Jerkel,” a play on the name of his Family Matters character, Steve Urkel.
“I didn’t even know [about the nickname],” he says. “I’ve stayed offline. I don’t think that’s what people are saying. That’s what certain websites or comments boards are coming up with for fodder, and it will pass.”
Down 12 lbs. since the season began, White is instead preparing for next week’s rock-themed episode, in which he’ll be channeling Mick Jagger in a tango. But mastering the moves isn’t the hardest part about competing in the dance competition.
“The toughest thing about the show is having a camera on you five hours a day, capturing your every move, except going to the bathroom,” he says. “I ask anybody to imagine how you’d feel learning something you’ve never done and have to present to the whole country.”
For now, he says, he’s focusing on finding time with his 2½-year-old daughter, Samaya, who learned how to quickstep with Johnson.
“I think intelligent people know who I am,” he says.