Julianne Hough has a special place in her heart for Dancing with the Stars, but the two-time mirrorball champion and former DWTS judge says there is a few definite perks to sitting out this season. In an interview with People, Julianne said the cast and crew at DWTS will always be her family, but she added that she is happy to be looking toward the future.
“I will miss being on the panel… but have a lot of exciting stuff coming that I look forward to sharing. The pro dancers, producers and crew at DWTS will always be my family.”
Hough, 27, also said that the fact that she’s no longer a judge on the hit ABC celebrity ballroom competition (longtime judge Len Goodman returned to reclaim his seat as head judge for season 22), means that she can be vocal about which celeb dancers she’s rooting for.
“It’s nice now because I can actually have favorites. I watched the premiere, and I was super-rooting for [Boyz II Men’s Wanya Morris] because he did Grease: Live with us.”
Hough is on the money with Morris, whose cha cha with partner Lindsay Arnold was a leaderboard topper on the DWTS premiere last week, although she didn’t reveal if she actually voted for the Boyz II Men alum or not.
Julianne Hough juggles multiple careers as dancer, actress, and singer, and she even has a clothing line for MPG Sport, so dropping that hefty DWTS commitment means she can focus on other aspects of her career. In addition, Julianne has a wedding to plan, as she became engaged to pro hockey player Brooks Laich last year.
“I’m really excited because I’m focusing on some other things. I’m at that point in my career where I need to focus on my personal career and make sure I’m doing what I’m doing.”
Julianne Hough’s three-season stint as a DWTS judge was met with a bit of skepticism at first. Season 17 contestant Corbin Bleu cried “nepotism” with two Houghs on the show, and pro dancer and current Season 22 cast member Karina Smirnoff even told Us Weekly she didn’t agree with Julianne judging the competition while her brother, Derek, was competing as a pro dancer.
“I think she is a great girl, I’ve known her for many years. I think that she is wonderful, gorgeous, and talented, but I don’t know if it’s ethical that she is judging while her brother is competing.”
Smirnoff also told Entertainment Weekly told Hough’s judging stint would never be allowed in a professional competition.
“In the professional ballroom world you are not allowed to judge any competition if you have any family members in the competition. But hey, it’s a TV show!”
Still, Julianne managed to handle the job, and she definitely didn’t play favorites. If anything, she was harder on Derek and her childhood “brother,” Mark Ballas, than anyone.
With both Julianne and her brother Derek out this season, it’s a rare Hough-free edition of DWTS. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Derek Hough said it was time for his sister Julianne to go.
“I think she did three great seasons, and it’s time for her to go. She’s got great things on the horizon, and she’s doing great things. Len [Goodman]’s coming back, and so, you know, I think four judges feels a little redundant anyways, so I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Take a look at the video below to see Julianne Hough’s 2016 spring sportswear line for MGP Sport.
[Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Lord & Taylor]