The Tragic Truth About Stephen “DJ Twitch” Boss

For many years, people knew Stephen “DJ Twitch” Boss as the loveable and rhythmic addition to The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He and Ellen DeGeneres had been a dynamic duo ever since she saw him on So You Think You Can Dance in 2008. Boss was a bright light for so many people.

Dancer Stephen Laurel
Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Boss and his wife shared happy videos of their family on social media, showcasing their impressive dance moves and big smiles. Boss built a career from humble beginnings and impacted many people along the way. No one ever guessed he was struggling. This is the untold truth about DJ Twitch.

Earning His Nickname Early

Stephen Boss was born in Montgomery, Alabama, to Connie Boss Alexander and Sanford Rose. From an early age, Boss had a passion for dance. He would dance for his classmates and had trouble sitting still. He taught himself how to do robotic-like movements, which later became his signature style.

Dancers Allison Holker and husband Stephen Laurel
Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Many have debated where his nickname came from, but Boss confirmed in an interview with Kam Williams that he got his nickname Twitch because he was constantly in motion. Boss’ nickname stuck with him throughout childhood into adulthood. He doesn’t mind the nickname because it’s “part of his persona in dance.”

Humble Beginnings

Boss didn’t come from a wealthy family. In Alabama, he was an average kid with big dreams. He spent his free time coming up with choreography and taught dance where he grew up. However, Boss shared that it wasn’t until he was 20 that he really started dancing and performing.

Zaia Boss, Allison Holker, Weslie Fowler, Maddox Laurel Boss, and Stephen
Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

He danced with a specific flare but claimed his nickname came from something else. When he got his first car, a Toyota Paseo, Boss spent hours driving around and thinking about new choreography. His car was old and would accelerate on its own, which is also why he is called Twitch.

Inspired By a Legend

When Boss was young, he was inspired by Michael Jackson’s incredible dance moves. Boss said, “I had the ‘Bad” tape. I used to just let that run and dance my heart out. I had his VHS tape ‘Moonwalker’ – that was in constant rotation.” He memorized all the moves.

Stephen “tWitch” Boss and Maddox Laurel Boss
Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

Watching Jackson’s tapes and listening to his music brought so much inspiration to Boss. He also loved Janet Jackson’s moves and music videos. Boss added, “There was this time in the ‘90s when everybody had dance in their videos.” He watched everyone and practiced dance moves, and added them to choreography.

A High School Production

Boss was in high school when he realized he wanted to become a professional dancer. After being cast in his school’s musical production of The Wiz. He was introduced to people his age who studied dance at local studios, and it changed his trajectory in life. Boss said his mind was blown.

Allison Holker, Weslie Fowler, Maddox Laurel Boss, and Stephen Boss
Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

He said, “I started noticing background dancers in music videos and connecting the dots like, ‘That’s the same person. That means you can have a career in dance.’” Boss then realized he could do the same thing if he worked hard enough. However, he had to catch up with his peers and learn other styles.

He Pursued His Passion

When Boss graduated from Lee High School in 2000, he decided to study dance formally. Boss attended Southern Union State Community College and Chapman University to study dance performance. He was determined to become a professional dancer and worked hard on his craft. There was no question about his desire to be a performer.

Allison Holker and husband Stephen Laurel
Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Boss wanted to make a name for himself, so he started auditioning for competition reality shows. In 2003, he made it onto MTV’s The Wade Robson Project and Star Search. He stood out from the competition because of his unique and diverse dance abilities. The judges quickly took notice of him.

He Started to Get More Opportunities

In 2003, Boss made it to the semifinals of The Wade Robson Project and was the runner-up on Star Search. It allowed him to get more opportunities, like choreographing routines for South Korean pop singer Seven and training YG Entertainment artists such as Big Bang. People saw that Boss was very talented.

Dancers Allison Holker and Stephen
Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

In 2007, he started to get jobs performing in movies. Boss was an uncredited “flamboyant dancer” in Blades of Glory and a Maybelle’s Store Dancer in Hairspray. Although these roles were small or uncredited, Boss wanted to get his name into the industry because it could open more doors for him.

Second Time’s the Charm

When So You Think You Can Dance premiered in 2005, Boss was amazed by the show. It gave unknown dancers a chance to showcase their skills and break into the industry. When Boss heard about the open auditions for Season 3, he decided to give it a shot.

Stephen
Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

During SYTYCD Season 3, Boss appeared on the show but didn’t make it to the top 20. However, he wasn’t going to let that stop him from trying again. The following year, Boss auditioned for Season 4, and it was much more successful the second time around.

Earning a Legion of Fans

It was on Season 4 of SYTYCD that Boss earned a large fan base. Everyone admired his raw passion for the art and loved the skills he shared with the world. Boss was selected to compete in the top 20 and finished the competition as the runner-up.

Stephen
Photo by Kevin Winter/TCA 2010/Getty Images for TCA

However, his Season 5 appearance truly helped him become a well-known name among dancers and fans alike. Boss returned to the show to perform a contemporary piece choreographed by Mia Michaels with his fellow Season 4 contestant Katee Shean. The dance was nominated for an Emmy.

Showing His Talents

Boss and Shean’s routine to “Mercy” and “Dreaming with a Broken Heart” were some of the most memorable performances from his many appearances on STYTYCD. When reflecting on the routines, Boss said, “The man I could bring to that routine now is much different than the guy on stage then.”

Dancers Allison Holker (L) and Stephen
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Boss appeared on SYTYCD several times as an “All-Star” for Seasons 7, 8, and 9. He performed several memorable pieces, which helped him form a solid career. However, his career wasn’t the only thing the show gave him; he also met his wife through SYTYCD.

They Met at a Party

Although many assume Boss and his wife, Allison Holker, met when they appeared on SYTYCD together in 2010, the couple actually met four years prior. The two crossed paths at a mutual friend’s party in 2006. Season 2 contestant Ivan Koumaev introduced the two.

Dancers tWitch and Allison Holker
Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Boss told Dance Spirit, “Our good friend Ivan Koumaev had a party and invited a bunch of us. We met there for the first time, but Allison doesn’t remember it at all.” Four years later, Boss and Holker reconnected while appearing on Season 7 together.

A Dance That Never Ended

Boss and Holker appeared as all-stars on Season 7 but didn’t really connect until the end of the season. They admired each other from afar until they shared a dance at the wrap party for Season 7. Boss told People magazine, “We shared a dance and have been together ever since.”

Allison Holker Boss and Stephen tWitch Boss
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Holker added, “There was no dialogue, there was no conversation or a first hangout. Literally, we danced, and we were together holding hands the very next day. And we never looked back.” The two bonded over dance and fell in love through the movements.

A Life-Changing Dance

One of Boss’ proudest moments from SYTYCD was his routine “Outta Your Mind” with ballet dancer Alex Wong. Boss said, “This routine could’ve gone down badly. Alex is a ballet dancer, so doing this routine was huge for him. And he went big.”

Stephen
Photo by Michael Rowe/Getty Images for IMDb

Not only was this one of his proudest dance moments, but the routine also introduced him to his future employer, Ellen DeGeneres. Boss said the dance was the “gift that kept giving.” DeGeneres was a huge fan of SYTYCD and wanted to recreate a dance, so the producers set her up with Boss.

A Crash Course to Friendship

DeGeneres wanted to recreate the “Outta Your Mind” routine, so Boss went to her house to teach her the dance. She later recalled that it was “like a crash course in getting to know each other.” She said they formed a bond over learning to dance together.

DJ tWitch, Hillary Clinton and Ellen DeGeneres
Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage

Although DeGeneres wasn’t a trained dancer, Boss helped her learn the routine, which they performed during the SYTYCD Season 7 finale. Their collaboration opened many doors for Boss, and he got opportunities that he never imagined would be possible in his career.

It Started With a Guest Spot

DeGeneres and Boss formed a quick friendship, and she loved so many things about his talents and personality. She knew her audience would love him, so she invited Boss to be a guest DJ on her show in September 2013. It was the beginning of a beautiful partnership.

DJ tWitch, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ellen Degeneres
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Although Boss wasn’t a DJ, he made the perfect sidekick for DeGeneres because of his quick-witted humor and skilled dance moves. In general, the audience adored Boss and wanted to see more of him. He was the much-needed addition to the talk show.

Dancing Down the Aisle

In December 2013, Boss and Holker tied the knot at SYTYCD creator Nigel Lythgoe’s Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery in Paso Robles, California. The two were excited to celebrate their love with their friends, family, and Holker’s daughter, Weslie, from a previous relationship.

Allison Holker and Stephen Boss
Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Boss and Holker fell in love through dance, so they paid tribute to that by performing at the reception. The couple performed a hip-hop routine to Justin Bieber’s “Somebody to Love” with her daughter Weslie. The dance also symbolized their union as a family.

A Permanent Job

A few months after their wedding, Boss, Holker, and Weslie attended their first event as a family. They were pictured on the red carpet for the Pasadena Playhouse’s Premiere Gala with big smiles on their faces. It was an important moment for Boss to show he was a loving stepfather.

Judges JoJo Siwa, Stephen tWitch Boss and Leah Remini
Photo by FOX via Getty Images

The year had many big moments, including Boss becoming the permanent in-house DJ on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in September 2014. Season 12 of the talk show featured Boss behind the DJ booth, and everyone loved the energy he brought to the show.

Baby On the Way

In October 2015, Boss and Holker announced that they were expecting their first child together. The couple posed backstage at Dancing With the Stars, with Boss placing his hand on Holker’s stomach. The two were thrilled to expand their family.

Stephen Boss and Allison Holker
Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

Boss and Holker glowed with happiness throughout the pregnancy. In February 2016, the couple attended the premiere of Zootopia, and Boss couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. Everyone could tell they were truly excited as the due date approached. It was the first time since adopting Weslie that Boss became a dad.

Welcoming Maddox

In March 2016, Boss and Holker welcomed their first child together, Maddo Laurel. The couple gushed about his arrival, telling People magazine, “Maddox’s birth was a truly unforgettable moment, and we are grateful to everyone that shared in the experience and made it so monumental.”

Stephen “tWitch” Boss and Maddox Laurel Boss
Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

The couple said their family felt full. Holker knew Boss would be a good father because of the way he treated her daughter when they first started dating. Holker was nervous, but Boss and Weslie became fast friends. Boss was ready to be a father and a stepfather for his children.

A Move to the Big Screen

Although Boss had small roles in previous films, his first featured role was in Magic Mike XXL in 2014. Boss said Jenna Dewan and Channing Tatum were huge fans of SYTYCD. When Dewan was a guest judge on the show, she pulled Boss aside to give him some good news.

TV personality Stephen
Photo by Barry King/Getty Images

Dewan told Boss that Magic Mike was getting a sequel, and he was in the running for a part. The producers found a role for Boss, and he didn’t disappoint. The film’s star, Tatum, praised Boss for his dance skills.

He Had to Get Used to It

When Boss signed on for Magic Mike XXL, he had to learn to wear a thong. Boss said, “It was slightly painful, the first couple of steps. Then you get used to it, oddly enough.” Although the thong was new, Boss said he used to strip at parties in high school.

Dancers Stephen Twitch Boss (L) and Allison Holker
Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for PEOPLE

Boss already knew the basics of stripping but still had to do some research. He said, “I didn’t visit any strip clubs, but I watched more videos of male entertainers than I would like to say that I did.” He worked hard but didn’t want his grandparents or in-laws to see the movie.

An Interesting Time On Set

Magic Mike featured many shirtless men playing male strippers, so you might assume that the set was ego and testosterone filled. However, Boss clarified that “if there was any competition, it was healthy and more supportive than anything.” But the movie pushed him to keep up with everyone.

Actor Stephen
Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Due to the demands of the big screen, Boss stuck to a rigorous workout routine to look buff on film. His co-star, Channing Tatum, called him out for spending too much time in the gym. Boss revealed, “Channing gets on me because I work out too much.”

Teaming Up With His Wife

Whenever Boss got to collaborate with Holker professionally, the two always had fun. In 2017, the pair teamed up to co-host Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings on Freeform. The show featured a behind-the-scenes look at weddings and engagements of couples at Disney destinations.

Allison Holker and Stephen
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

In the promotion for the show, Boss and Holker took a handful of adorable pictures together in front of Cinderella’s Castle at Magic Kingdom. They looked more in love than ever and were amazing hosts for the special series. The show’s second season premiered on Disney+ in 2020.

Adding Another Little One

In 2019, Boss and Holker announced that they were expecting their second child together. The couple later welcomed their daughter Zaia in November 2019. While the couple was incredibly happy to add another little one to their family, Boss explained how it changed everything.

Allison Holker and Stephen
Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Boss loved being a dad and watching his kids grow up together. However, he admitted that it was a major life change. When they had their son, Boss said, “Going from one child to two changes everything, and it’s not easy. Your time is no longer yours, but there is so much joy to be found.”

Fun (and Painful) Moments On TV

Aside from his busy life as a dad and becoming a movie star, Boss continued to work on DeGeneres’ show. He and DeGeneres shared many hilarious moments throughout their time working together. One memorable moment was when DeGeneres arranged for Boss to get waxed on TV.

Stephen
Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for 4moms

In preparation for Magic Mike XXL, DeGeneres had an esthetician wax Boss on stage, and it was hilarious but painful. He said, “I didn’t like it at all. The experience was painful, but the results were smooth.” However, it made him respect anyone who decided not to wax anymore.

He Loved His Job

Despite the controversy that surrounded DeGeneres in 2020, Boss supported the talk show host. He defended her by saying, “There hasn’t been too many gigs where you feel it every day and build genuine love from front to back.” He also said the audience was always happy, ready to “dance and laugh.”

Stephen Boss
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Critics Choice Association

Boss said being on the show made him feel “blessed on a daily basis.” He also told Us magazine, “Ellen just gives love, to be quite honest. She has so much love for our family.” Boss admitted that the show was a gift to him and his family because of the love and support.

A Big Promotion

Following the allegations made about The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the talk show host apologized, and big changes were made to the show. Aside from firing two executive producers, DeGeneres promoted Boss to co-executive producer in 2020. It was a move that made perfect sense.

TV show host Ellen Degeneres
Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Boss had been with the show permanently since 2014 and deserved the role. He brought some much-needed diversity to the management team, giving Boss more influence in the programming and work culture. It was a move that benefitted Boss and DeGeneres.

More Than a Dancer

Although Boss grew to fame through dance, he wasn’t a one-trick pony. Most of his on-screen work involved busting a move, but he never stuck to one style. Boss admitted that he would have preferred to act mostly but still have been involved in the dance world.

Stephen
Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

He started studying acting to prepare for different roles, which was fun and exciting. Boss knew he would always have dance in his life, but working on movies and being the DJ for DeGeneres gave him more opportunities to flex his other skills.

He’s a Charitable Activist

Boss was always a bright light on the set of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and that wasn’t just a facade he put on for the cameras. He partnered with JetBlue to give children access to books through JetBlue’s Soar with Reading program. He also wanted to build a community center in his hometown.

JetBlues Soar with Reading program
Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Aside from his charitable acts, Boss was also outspoken about racism in the US. He said, “What we’re trying to drive in with our children is that the world should be a place of equality, love, acceptance, and inclusion.” It was important for him to speak up on these topics.

His Own Hosting Gig

In 2021, Boss got another amazing opportunity to host the competition show, Clash of the Clover Bands. The show gave musical acts a chance to win a grand prize and perform on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. He was joined by judges Meghan Trainor, Adam Lambert, and Ester Dean.

Dancers Stephen
Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Boss spoke about the judges saying Lambert was the most sympathetic because he got his start on American Idol. He added that each judge brought a different element to the competitions and was pleased with the distribution of roles on the show.

The End of an Era

Boss had many big opportunities, and his work with DeGeneres on The Ellen DeGeneres Show changed his life. He had been on the show for over a decade and met several huge names in Hollywood. Boss was a fan favorite and loved his job more than anything.

Dancers Allison Holker and husband Stephen Laurel
Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

His bong with DeGeneres was beautiful, and she praised him for everything he brought to the show. However, DeGeneres announced the end of her talk show in 2022. Boss said it was bittersweet because the show was everything to him, and he would miss the laughter on set.

A Special Opportunity

Although his job as DeGeneres’ DJ came to an end, Boss had big opportunities on the horizon. In 2022, he became a permanent judge on SYTYCD. The show gave him his start, and he came full circle to help others achieve their dance dreams as he did.

Dancer Stephen
Photo by Bennett Raglin/BET/Getty Images for BET

Boss got so much out of SYTYCD, and as a judge, he loved seeing other dancers with the same goals he had when he auditioned for the competition. He fought to earn his spot when he competed on the show and was turned down three times before he actually made it.

Things Could Have Been Different

Boss’ life could have turned out much differently if he hadn’t made it on SYTYCD. He admitted that he would have joined the Navy if he hadn’t succeeded on the show. He thought it was a good backup plan in case because it would have given him structure.

Allison Holker and tWitch
Photo by Amy Sussman/BBMA2020/Getty Images for dcp

However, Boss had dreams of being a professional dancer since he was in high school. If he had taken a different path, he wouldn’t have been able to pursue his passion. Without SYTYCD, he wouldn’t have met his wife or had his two beautiful children and stepdaughter.

They Seemed So Happy

During the pandemic, Boss and his family created a TikTok account to share dance videos and music. They hoped it would cheer people up during such tough times. The channel was filled with heartwarming content, inspiring everyone to love their families a little more.

Dancer Allison Holker, Weslie Fowler, Maddox Laurel Boss
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Boss and Holker showed off their incredible dance moves, and their kids got in on the action. They seemed so happy and shared their last video together just days before Boss’ untimely death. They had big smiles, and the couple appeared like nothing was out of the ordinary.

His Tragic Death

A few days after posting their final video, Holker informed officials that Boss left their home on December 13, 2022, without his car. She reported it to the police because it wasn’t usual behavior for Boss. Shortly after, police received a call about a shooting at the Oak Tree Inn in Encina, California.

Judge Stephen tWitch Boss
Photo by FOX via Getty Images

Sadly, Boss was found dead in the bathroom of his motel room from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His death was ruled a suicide, and Holker announced the tragic news the following day. Boss was only 40, and he and Holker had just celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary days earlier.

A Shock to Everyone

Holker released a statement about Boss’ death, saying, “It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to share my husband Stephen has left us. He was the backbone of our family, the best husband and father, and an inspiration to fans.” As soon as the news spread, tributes poured in.

Stephen
Photo by Michael Rowe/Getty Images for IMDb

The news shocked everyone who worked with Boss, knew him or were simply fans. He seemed so happy on social media and with work; no one knew he had been struggling with his mental health. Everyone from DeGeneres to Paula Abdul, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Michelle Obama shared tributes for Boss.

Beloved By Everyone

Boss was a bright life in everyone’s lives, which became even clearer from the heartfelt words everyone shared following his death. Andy Lassner, a producer from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, shared a beautiful tribute to Boss. He said everyone was sharing posts about themselves and Boss.

Stephen
Photo by Momodu Mansaray/Getty Images

Lassner continued, “Those who knew him are not trying to make this tragedy about themselves. They are just trying to convey to you who Twitch was. He made everything about you. He made you feel like the most important person in the world. He was our flame.”

No One Knew His Struggles

Although Boss seemed so happy all the time, he was silently battling with his mental health. Lassner wrote, “There was a heavy burden that none of us realized he was carrying. He must have been so tired. But we didn’t know because he never wanted it to be about him.”

Stephen 'tWitch' Boss
Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

Boss kept his struggles private because he didn’t want to burden anyone else. He was there for everyone and anyone who needed him. Although it’s already been a few weeks since his death, everyone is still shocked that Boss is no longer with us.

They Had Big Plans

The world might have been so shocked about Boss’ death because it seemed like he and his wife had big plans for their future. In November 2022, a month before he died, Boss and Holker discussed having a third child. They told Jennifer Hudson on her show that they missed having a newborn at home.

tWitch poses backstage
Photo by Amy Sussman/BBMA2020/Getty Images for dcp

During the interview, Holker said she and Boss wanted to start trying for a third child soon. Boss added, “I love the little babies; I love them. It’s a constant conversation.” The couple had also posted about their Thanksgiving celebrations and attended a red carpet event in early December.

It Sparked a Conversation

Although his death was incredibly heartbreaking and tragic, Boss didn’t die in vain. His death sparked an important conversation about mental health and suicide in the black community. Dr. Rheeda Walker spoke to People magazine about the impact of Boss’ death.

Stephen
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Dr. Walker said, “Mental health and, more importantly, mental illness is associated with being weak.” She added that this stigma is more prevalent in the African American community. This stigma prevents people from reaching out for help, and Boss’ death made people realize they need to check on their loved ones and encourage them to get help.

She Is Heartbroken

While the world might not have been aware of Boss’ struggles, Holker probably knew something was wrong. She was the closest person to him, but it’s possible he also hid his battle from her. No one can begin to imagine the pain Holker and her family are feeling right now.

Dancers Allison Holker and Stephen 'tWitch' Boss
Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

When Holker released her statement about Boss, she said, “Stephen, we love you, we miss you, and I will always save the last dance for you.” Everyone who knew the couple has rallied around Holker during this sad time.

A Lasting Legacy

Boss might be gone, but his legacy will never fade. Holker said, “To say he left a legacy would be an understatement, and his positive impact will continue to be felt. I am certain there won’t be a day that goes by that we won’t honor his memory.”

Dancers husband and wife Stephen
Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images

Everyone who met him said Boss lit up the room and made everyone smile. DeGeneres shared kind words about Boss, “He was pure light. He brought so much love and joy to my life. He changed my life. He was my family. I will miss him.” Boss will never be forgotten.

He Communicated Through Dance

Dance was more than just a fun activity for Boss; he used movement to communicate. He once told Collider, “While I’m not a ridiculous wordsmith, and I can’t clearly verbalize the things that I’m feeling sometimes, I’d say that I can emote how I feel by dancing.”

Dancers Allison Holker and Stephen Boss
Photo by Earl Gibson III/WireImage

Boss saw dancing as something that transcended words to bring people together. It was more than an art form. He added, “It removes you from this construct of the world that you have, and it’s a conversation that you’re having with people.”