Tragic Details About Julianne Hough

Julianne Hough is what many consider to be a triple threat — a star who can sing, dance, and act her way through Hollywood. While many celebrities say they excel in all three categories, not all of them have the accolades like Hough to prove it. The artist became a household name after she earned the title of a two-time professional dance champion on the hit show "Dancing with the Stars." She joined the show in 2007 and went on to not only take home back-to-back wins but also return as a judge on the show. The talented beauty has made her mark, earning herself an Emmy award for her work choreographing "DWTS," starring as the lead in the Nicholas Sparks film adaptation, "Safe Haven," and releasing a debut album that topped the country music charts. 

But despite Hough's successes, her road to stardom had its fair share of hiccups. Growing up in a conservative Mormon family in Utah, her upbringing was starkly different than her glamorous life today. Her life before making her big break was described as "No sex before marriage, no drinking, no caffeine, no smoking, no swear words, no R-rated movies," as per her interview with the New York Post. Nowadays, the professional dancer's days are more carefree, as she's admitted she no longer practices Mormonism but is grateful for the many lessons it gave her. While she's free from the confines of a strict childhood, Hough has weathered enormous difficulties throughout her life and career. We're taking a look at all the tragic details about Julianne Hough.

Julianne Hough was abused as a child

Julianne Hough's childhood was far from picture-perfect. She began pursuing her dance dreams at a young age and moved to London when she was just 10 years old to study at the Italia Conti Academy of the Arts. There, she joined her brother and began studying dance, but little did she know the toll that living abroad would take on her. In an interview with Cosmopolitan, the "Dancing with the Stars" star opened up about the abuse she endured while on a five-year scholarship at the top-notch school.

"While I was in London, I was abused, mentally, physically, everything," she said, declining to provide more details. She mentioned that she often felt trapped while studying at the school, influenced by the adults who painted a depressing reality about her returning to the United States. "I was told if I ever went back to the United States, three things were going to happen. One: I was going to amount to nothing. Two: I was going to work at Whataburger. And three: I was going to end up a slut. So, it was like, I can't go back. I have to be this person," she revealed.

Hough stuck out the difficult period in her life studying abroad, but it forced her to grow up fast. "I was 10 years old looking like I was 28, being a very sensual dancer," she said. "I was a tormented little kid who had to put on this sexy facade because that was my job and my life. But my heart was the same, and I was this innocent little girl. I wanted so much love."

Julianne Hough struggled with anxiety and depression

The immense amount of pressure Julianne Hough faced as a child may have taken a toll on her mental health. "I struggled with anxiety and depression growing up," Hough told People in a 2019 interview. "I don't think a lot of people would know that about me because I come off as sunshine and happiness and positivity." 

The "Safe Haven" actor said that dance became a healthy outlet for her, allowing her the creativity to express herself and cope with her issues with mental health. Hough also admitted to taking part in research alongside neuroscientist Dr. Wendy Suzuki, with whom she shared a panel while at The Wonder of Women Summit in 2019, to uncover the positive links between dancing and the brain. In an effort to give back to kids struggling with mental health, she paired up with the Child Mind Institute for their Getting Better Together campaign in 2021.

"When I was growing up in school, I found it very, very difficult to stay focused in the classroom," she said in her testimony. "I had anxiety and depression, and certain things that really just helped me or didn't help me stay focused. And I thought something was wrong with me, but then I found an outlet ... and dance for sure was that big, big outlet." Hough has continued to be candid about her struggles in adulthood, even sharing an Instagram Reel on March 6 with a caption that reads, in part, "I'm not going to lie, healing is not easy. Just when you think you've reached the center of the spiral, you realize there is another, even deeper layer that you didn't even know existed."

Julianne Hough lost both of her dogs on the same day

Julianne Hough endured a giant loss in 2019 when she lost both of her dogs. The actor mourned the loss of her two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Lexi and Harley, who passed away on the same day. Though she didn't specify how they died, she took to Instagram to express her grief about her beloved pets' death. "Pure love is real, it existed through us. My heart expanded and felt the truth of what is possible. I am forever grateful. Thank you for your love. Thank you for being my babies, my daughters," she wrote in her post. Hough went on to compare her dogs to "guardians," noting that she had never experienced such a constant love in her life.

Hough's then-husband, Brooks Laich, also took to social media to grieve his loss. "Their tragic passing has left my wife and I heartbroken. Lexi and Harley were not just pets to us, they were our children, and we loved them as such," he wrote in an Instagram post. Hough's brother Derek, a fellow professional dancer on "Dancing with the Stars," also shared his condolences on social media. Giving a little insight into the dogs' passing, he wrote in an Instagram post that they had an "abrupt end" and that "their memory will always be remembered with joy love and happiness."

Julianne Hough sustained head injuries during a dance move

Julianne Hough took her dancing to new heights — and low lows when a routine left her with head injuries. The "Footloose" star is known for testing the limits as a professional dancing champion on "Dancing with the Stars," but her difficult choreography comes at a cost. Hough took to Instagram to share a clip from a number she performed during the 2019 NBC special "Holidays With the Houghs," which she hosted and performed numerous dances alongside her brother Derek.

"First time putting on roller skates let alone dancing in them, did a death-defying trick, burst blood vessels and capillaries in my head doing it ... and of course had the best time and would do it all over again in a heart beat!" she wrote in her post. The dance move, done on rollerskates and choreographed by Emmy award winner Tessandra Chavez, had Hough's partner holding her by her ankles as he spun her around in circles. "This is one of my all-time favorite performances from 'Holidays With The Houghs,'" the "DWTS" star wrote.

But it isn't the only time Hough has sustained injuries perfecting her craft. While she starred in "Rock of Ages" alongside Tom Cruise, a musical number that involved her "whipping her head back and forth several times" left her with severe neck pain. "The next day I was walking and turned my head, and I had to lie on my back. I couldn't breathe, and I couldn't turn my head," she told Celebuzz (per Good Housekeeping).

Julianne Hough was 'lost' after her split with Ryan Seacrest

Julianne Hough got candid about heartbreak after her split from Ryan Seacrest in 2013. Hough and Seacrest were in a romantic relationship for three years after first meeting in 2010, but Hough admitted she had her doubts when they started dating. "He is such an influential guy ... Our first date, I was so nervous that I just sat there and interviewed him with questions like, 'Are you loyal?' and 'Are you close to your family?'" she told InStyle in 2012 (per Us Weekly).

Hough's strict Mormon upbringing was a stark contrast to her newfound fame, one that got even more glamorous while dating Seacrest. The former "DWTS" judge told Entertainment Tonight that she was left making adjustments after the breakup. "I had just got out of a relationship that was very high profile," Hough said, adding, "I was on private planes and yachts and living in a very, very well-off house. My life was pretty different from where I grew up."

Hough went on to admit that after the breakup, there was a shift in her identity. "That year I kinda got a little lost," she told the outlet, explaining that her inner circle consisted of mainly Seacrest's close friends. "I really was like, 'I'm 24 and I don't really know who Julianne is,'" she said. "And so I met some girlfriends and we went to Coachella and we did certain things that I was not proud of." Ultimately, she said it allowed her to begin to work on herself and became the "beginning of a big identity shift."

Julianne Hough outed a DWTS contestant

There are many comments celebrities wish they would have thought twice before making, and Julianne Hough has a few of her own. The actor made a major faux pas while speaking to host Mario Lopez on Extra in 2014 about former "Dancing with the Stars" contestant Jonathan Bennett. As per RadarOnline, the star told Lopez, "He tweeted at me last year and said I had a nice butt, and I thought, 'Oh he's hitting on me — I should try to go on a date with him!'" After Lopez asked what happened next, Hough replied, while laughing: "He's gay — so I was like, 'That's not gonna work!'" 

While it may have seemed cheeky in the moment, Bennett had not publicly commented on his sexuality at the time the interview was taped. Bennett, who played the heartthrob Aaron Samuels in the hit film "Mean Girls," never responded to the slip-up. The actor did, however, post a since-deleted tweet afterward that may have been directed at Hough. "You've got to keep moving towards the goal, no matter what's in front of you," he wrote at the time. 

Eventually, about three years later, Bennett opened up about his sexuality and went on to date television host Jaymes Vaughan. The couple dated for five years before getting married in a beachside ceremony in Mexico in 2022. 

Julianne Hough said she was 'eating the bare minimum to survive'

It's no secret that celebrities are under a great amount of pressure to look their best. The intense scrutiny of the public eye can lead some A-listers to follow strict workout regimes and hold themselves to high standards when it comes to body image. Julianne Hough knows a thing or two about how wanting to succeed can take a toll on one's body, and she got candid about her own struggles with her body. While her fitness level and strength have been showcased throughout her career in musical numbers, the star admitted to Shape that she hasn't always been kind to herself (via People).

"When I look at pictures of myself when I was 19, my body was bangin', but I was killing myself. I was working out two and a half hours a day and eating the bare minimum to survive. I was so miserable. I wasn't healthy. To be honest, I looked like a kid. Now I'm embracing the fact that I'm a woman with curves," she revealed. Hough said she allows herself to indulge in junk food, admitting her favorite food is pizza. "I want everyone to know that I'm not Miss Perfect. You can cheat every once in a while, and that's okay. You can still have a fit body as long as you work out regularly and eat relatively healthfully throughout your life," she said.

Julianne Hough didn't know she had endometriosis

Julianne Hough has weathered her fair share of ups and downs, including health scares. The professional dancer even admitted she battled endometriosis for years, not knowing her diagnosis. In an interview with Women's Health, Hough revealed that she once had "excruciating cramps" during a taping of "Dancing with the Stars" that sent her to the emergency room. Endometriosis, defined by the Mayo Clinic, is a "painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus." The disorder often results in extremely painful menstrual periods and can affect fertility. 

While Hough was diagnosed with endometriosis at 20, she dealt with symptoms years before being diagnosed. "I first started experiencing symptoms back when I was 15, but I thought it was just what it feels like to be a girl with bad periods," Hough said. "I didn't think to go to the gynecologist. Because I'm a competitor, I felt like I had to push through the pain and just work." Eventually, her unexpected ER visit led to follow-ups with gynecologists, who eventually ran tests to determine the cause of Hough's cramping.

Hough admitted she felt isolated at first following her diagnosis, not knowing that, as noted in The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, one out of 10 women of reproductive age also has the disorder. She eventually became open about her symptoms, even getting candid about how endometriosis affects her sex life. "It can definitely cut things short," Hough admitted. "Sometimes we're in the middle and I'm just like 'AH, stop!'"