Julianne Hough is quickly becoming one of the most well-known dancers in America. With her recent starring role in Fox’s Grease: Live, she may be able to keep expanding her footprint across the entertainment world. In a few years, we might see her continue to show up in more places than Dancing with the Stars. But before that, let’s look at what she’s done so far in her career.
Julianne Hough was born on July 20, 1988, the youngest of her Mormon parents’ five children. She’s far from the only dancer in her family. All four of her grandparents were professional dancers, and her older brother Derek also dances. (She’s also cousin to the boys in Rocky, Ross, Rydel, and Riker Ratliff from R5.)
Hough began training at Center Stage Performing Arts Studio in her hometown of Orem, Utah, and was already competing when she was nine. In 1999, her parents began the process of divorcing each other. So, when she was 10, she and her brother Derek moved to London, England to continue studying dance. In London, they lived with Corky and Shirley Ballas, who trained them. Shirley Ballas was an international champion Latin dancer. Eventually, Julianne and Derek both ended up at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts.
With the Ballas’ son Mark and her brother Derek, Julianne formed 2 Boys, 1 Girl (2B1G). From 2001 until 2003, 2B1G performed at competitions in the UK and in America. When she was fifteen, Julianne became the youngest dancer (and only American) to win the Junior World Latin and International Latin Youth championships, at the Blackpool Dance Festival.
After the competition, Julianne Hough moved back to the States, relocating in Las Vegas, Nevada. In interviews, she made it clear the relocation was to avoid abuse that had continued since she hit puberty, including pressures that she would be a failure if she returned to America. Julianne began attending the Las Vegas Academy, a magnet arts school.
Julianne Hough Back in America
It wasn’t long before Julianne defied her English trainers’ predictions and secured an appearance on television. In 2006, the winter before her high school graduation, she was a dancer on ABC’s short-lived gameshow Show Me the Money, most notable for being hosted by William Shatner. After graduation, she was paired with Apolo Ohno for season four of Dancing with the Stars.
Julianne and Ohno won the competition, and in the wake of her success, Julianne released a country music single. “Will You Dance With Me” was sold through iTunes and Wal-Mart, with the proceeds going toward the American Red Cross. Breaking Billboard’s Pop 100, the song secured her a record deal with UMG Nashville’s Mercury label.
She returned to Dancing with the Stars for season five, with NASCAR champion Hélio Castoneves, winning the competition again. For season six she was paired up with comedian Adam Carolla. Eliminated early into the season, Julianne didn’t let it stall her career for a moment. She went to Nashville to work on her debut album.
Julianne’s Country Music
Julianne Hough, released on May 20, 2008, was the #1 country album the week of its release. Produced by David Malloy (famous for his work with Reba McEntire,) the album received mixed reviews from critics, but fans of the dancer were unconditionally supportive. “That Song in My Head,” the single from Julianne Hough, received enough airplay to secure her a spot on Brad Paisley’s 2008 tour, where she’d perform with Jewel.
Julianne worked with Brad Paisley and Willie Nelson in the video for Snoop Dogg’s “My Medicine.” She appeared in some commercials. By the end of 2008, she was ready to release her album of Christmas music, Sounds of the Season: The Julianne Hough Holiday Collection.
A suddenly fruitful career in country music didn’t distract Julianne from her dancing. She returned to Dancing with the Stars for season seven with Cody Linley, who played Jake Ryan in the Disney series Hannah Montana. Unfortunately, an emergency appendectomy kept Julianne from performing through most of the season, and ultimately the couple were eliminated during the semifinals.
After being eliminated from Dancing with the Stars, Julianne Hough told Ryan Seacrest she wouldn’t be coming back to the show, in order to focus on her music career. Because of Julianne Hough and Sounds of the Season, Hough was nominated for the Country Music Awards’ Top New Artist and Top New Female Vocalist Awards, and won both. Her success led her to release “Is That So Wrong,” a single inspired by her break-up with Chuck Wicks. Intended to be the single for a second album, Wildfire, the song did not garner nearly the same attention as her first album.
Julianne ended up returning to Dancing with the Stars for the eighth season, teaming up with her then-boyfriend Chuck Wicks. Around that time she also appeared in Burlesque, the 2010 musical film starring Cher and Christina Aguilera. The next year she was in Paramount’s remake of Footloose, opposite Kenny Wormald. She and Kenny would then compete in Dancing with the Stars one more time, before transitioning into being a judge for the show.
Her leading presence in Footloose helped her score the starring role in the romantic drama Safe Haven and Rock of Ages in 2012, and Paradise in 2013. Between working with ABC for Dancing with the Stars and an increasing presence in musical films, it’s understandable that Julianne opted to put her country music career on hold.
What is Julianne Hough Doing Now in 2018?
Since September 2014, Julianne has been a permanent judge on Dancing with the Stars. On August 18, 2015, she announced her engagement to Brooks Laich, the professional hockey player she’d been dating since early 2014.
She and her brother Derek earned a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Choreography for a special dance they did for Dancing with the Stars in 2015, and later that year Julianne starred in Curve, a horror film. She also had a small role in Dirty Grandpa, released early in 2016. On January 31, 2016, Julianne starred along Aaron Tveit and Vanessa Hudgens in Grease: Live.
Broadcast on Fox, the televised adaptation of the 1971 musical was the network’s response to the string of musicals NBC had produced, such as The Wiz. There were a number of hurdles the show faced, from inclement weather to Hudgen’s father dying the night before. However, the show was met with critical praise, with special attention being paid to Julianne’s performance.
There’s no concrete information on what Julianne’s career may go from here. She has an unreleased country album on the back burner, and at this point, a strong acting resume. There’s no plans for her to leave Dancing with the Stars, but it’s also hard to imagine that her talents won’t take her other places over the next few years.