Julianne Hough is experiencing “Dancing With the Stars” from the other side of the judges’ table now.
Formerly one of the pro dancers in the ABC contest, she starts her second round of grading contestants alongside Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli when Season 20 begins Monday (March 16). Not only will she be gauging her dancer brother Derek, who will be back despite his earlier announcement that he’d be out this time, but they both have another relative in the mix: second cousin Riker Lynch, a member of the music group R5.
“It was so much fun!,” Hough tells Zap2it of her first judging stint. “It took a few weeks to kind of settle in. It’s definitely a different experience, but it’s one I really love. Because I’ve been on the other side, I know what the celebrities and dancers want and need to hear to make them better for the next week.”
“That’s my whole reason behind everything,” adds Hough. “I just want to make sure I have good critiques, and that they actually take what I say and apply it.”
There’s not a lot of time to say it, Hough notes: “When you’re put on the spot, you might not necessarily say what you’re thinking. You want to be objective and to say something that’s honest and truthful, but that won’t tear them down. It sounds easy, but it’s a lot harder than people think.”
Now marking its 10th anniversary, “Dancing With the Stars” — hosted by Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews — isn’t the only TV venture on Hough’s radar. She and sibling Derek are prepping the ballroom-dance drama series “Blackpool” for Starz, and she’s been cast as Sandy in Fox’s live staging of “Grease,” slated to air next January.
“Certain things give me the opportunity to showcase what I can do,” she reasons, “but the films that I’m looking for now might not have any singing or dancing. I’m actually doing a comedy in which I sing very poorly. For me, it’s about showing all the sides of who I am, but also about embracing those.”
That certainly includes Hough’s “Dancing With the Stars” return. “When I left the first time, I felt, ‘OK, I need to separate myself. I’m more than just a dancer, and I need to prove myself in more facets of my career.’ And I realized that I was putting down the fact that I dance, or that I sing … and now, I feel really fortunate that I have the gifts that I’ve been given to do that. I have a whole different outlook on life now. Life is just awesome!”