The Truth About Julianne Hough Finally Revealed

Emmy Award winner Julianne Hough seems like she's everywhere all the time. She's been a television staple for years, beginning with a brief 2006 stint as a dancer on "Show Me the Money," followed by her breakout gig on "Dancing with the Stars" in 2007. Since then, she's moved on to become an actress, appearing in films like "Safe Haven" and television shows like "Speechless." She's never been far from her dancing roots, also starring in the 2011 remake of "Footloose" and 2012's "Rock of Ages," as well as in the Fox televised production of "Grease Live" in 2016. The multi-talented entertainer has also dabbled in music, launched her own athleisure line, and was recently named the new co-host of "Dancing with the Stars" alongside former contestant Alfonso Ribeiro.

But when it comes to actually getting to know Hough, who made her Broadway debut in 2022 in the play "POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive," has many layers. Beneath Hough's charm, cha-cha moves, and stunning beauty is a woman with drive, a thirst for fame, grit, and a surprising tendency to overshare. "I think life goes in seasons and waves," she told Hamptons Magazine. "I'm in a busy season right now. And so I look at my life in chunks or seasons ... So I just look at it like, what is my life calling for right now?"

Julianne Hough's been romantically connected to her dance partners

After Helio Castroneves planted a surprise kiss on Julianne Hough during their Dancing With the Stars winning quickstep on Season 5, rumors started flying that the dance partners' chemistry continued off the ballroom floor. It probably didn't help that as soon as the show ended, Castroneves' then-fiancée, Aliette Vazquez, immediately announced the end of their engagement. According to Today, Vazquez released her statement "less than a day" after Castroneves and Hough took home their mirrorball trophies.

As if that gossip wasn't juicy enough, rumors also flew that Hough had split with her fiancé, a dancer named Zach Wilson, earlier that year because she was involved with her previous DWTS partner, Apolo Ohno. Hough, Ohno, and Castroneves insisted there were no romances among them, with Hough even going so far as to declare to Extra, "I am not a home wrecker, ladies and gentlemen." Yeesh.

She was harsh about her split from Ryan Seacrest

Julianne Hough dated American Idol host and ubiquitous TV personality Ryan Seacrest for three years before they split in 2013, citing their busy schedules as the reason for the breakup. Naturally, the dancer was going to have to elaborate on that PR-friendly excuse at some point. However, we weren't expecting her actual response to be so blunt.

Speaking to Redbook magazine in July 2014, Hough seemed to imply that her heart was rarely in it while she was dating Seacrest. "I had one foot out because I didn't want to get hurt," she said. "And I didn't say what was on my mind because I didn't want to ruffle any feathers. I needed to be perfect." She noted that "there was nothing wrong or bad, but there was nothing right." Ouch.

Of her relationship with her then-boyfriend-now-husband, hockey player Brooks Laich, Hough added: "I'm not holding anything back, because I'd rather get my heart broken than never know what it is to be completely, madly in love. If I had been this open in my last relationship, who knows?" For his sake, we hope Seacrest didn't read that interview.

That time Julianne Hough wore blackface on Halloween

Following in the unfortunate footsteps of Ted Danson, Billy Crystal, and other clueless celebrities, Julianne Hough made headlines for all the wrong reasons when she donned blackface while dressing up as the character Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren from Netflix's Orange Is the New Black for a Halloween party in 2013. Almost immediately, she was blanketed in harsh criticism from social media users, as well as fellow stars, including Wendy Williams, Martha Plimpton, and Zach Braff.

Hough issued an apology on Twitter, saying, in part, "It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize." Hough also apologized to the actress who plays Suzanne, Uzo Aduba, who called the costume an "unfortunate event," according to E! News.

She dissed fellow dancer Mark Ballas...

Julianne Hough clearly ruffled the feathers of her childhood friend and former co-star, Mark Ballas, when she harshly critiqued one of his numbers with partner Christina Millan during a 2013 episode of Dancing with the Stars. As a guest judge, Hough suggested Ballas was hogging his partner's spotlight: "There were moments where I felt like choreography-wise, I felt like it was two people dancing side-by-side rather than together. So I really want to see [Milian] shine. I've danced with Mark. You have to stand in front to make sure you're seen" (via Us Weekly).

Ballas called Hough's critique "hypocritical," and according to sources cited by the magazine, he was reportedly "furious" over the on-air embarrassment. Hough subsequently clarified her remarks, assuring viewers she didn't mean to "diss anybody" or "hurt anybody's feelings." She called it "constructive criticism so that they can get better for next week." Hough also claimed she and Ballas had dinner together that night. So, so much for that supposed DWTS scandal.

And also criticized DWTS' Maksim Chmerkovskiy

A year after her tiff with Mark Ballas, Julianne Hough came under fire once again for harshly critiquing another one of her co-stars. This time her target was Maksim Chmerkovskiy. During a 2014 episode, in which she appeared again as a guest judge, Hough called out Chmerkovskiy for dancing as if he was phoning it in. "I felt like it was a little bit like, this week could get past so that you could be back with Meryl (Davis), and you just had to phone it in (with McKellar)," she said on the episode (via

"You can't accuse me of not working hard enough," a clearly annoyed Chmerkovskiy told E! News (via the Daily Mail) after the episode aired. As for "phoning it in," Chmerkovskiy said, "Julianne has my number, whenever she wants to call and apologize, I'm ready."

Julianne Hough's movie career has been a disaster

Julianne Hough temporarily left Dancing with the Stars in 2008 to pursue a career in country music. When that didn't pan out, she gave the movie biz a go. Despite steady work in the industry, Hough has yet to star or co-star in a legitimately successful movie. In fact, the majority of her films have been ripped to shreds by critics. 

Among her biggest bombs: her feature-film debut, Burlesque (2010), which received universally bad reviews; the Nicholas Sparks drama Safe Haven (2013), which earned a terrible 13 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes; and Dirty Grandpa (2016), which bombed with both critics and audiences alike. On the bright side: Hough did receive good notices for playing Sandy in FOX's live TV adaptation of the musical Grease Live! in 2016, as well as for her performance as Jolene in 2019's Dolly Parton's Heartstrings, suggesting television remains the best place for her career.

She outed Jonathan Bennett

During a 2014 segment on Extra, Julianne Hough told what she thought was just a cute anecdote about mistaking a compliment from Mean Girls alum and Dancing with the Stars contestant Jonathan Bennett as a come on. Speaking with host Mario Lopez, she said (via Radar Online), "[Bennett] 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!'" When asked what happened after that, Hough replied, "He's gay—so I was like, 'That's not gonna work!'" No big deal, right?

Well, it turns out that despite years of gay rumors, including an alleged romance with Kyle XY star, Matt Dallas, Bennett hadn't yet come out. Whoops! In fact, it wasn't until three years later that the actor publicly addressed his sexuality and confirmed he was in a relationship with The Amazing Race alum Jaymes Vaughan. As of this writing, Hough and Bennett have never said another word about her slip, leaving a noticeable silence surrounding the faux pas. But who knows — maybe Bennett never even saw her interview because he's more of an Access Hollywood man?

Julianne Hough was raised Mormon

Julianne Hough and her four brothers and sisters were raised Mormon by their parents in Orem, Utah. Hough has spoken openly about her strict childhood upbringing, telling the New York Post in 2013 that some of the rules included "no sex before marriage, no drinking, no caffeine, no smoking, no swear words [and] no R-rated movies."

After moving to Los Angeles, Hough slowly learned to loosen up. "I didn't drink when I first came to Hollywood," she told the New York Post. "[Now] I don't think it's going to define who I am if I am at Chateau Marmont having a glass of wine." She said she's no longer practicing the Mormon faith. In fact, she confessed to Vulture that same year that she's given and received a lap dance, smoked a "fattie," and gone commando. More TMI?

She filmed gross videos of her mom and sister

You know how the first question people often ask when watching a horrible video is, "Wait, why is that person recording instead of helping?" Well, Julianne Hough was that person when her mom and sister got seasick on a sailboat in Cabo and started blowing chunks over the railings, according to E! News.

Not only that, but Hough posted the videos she took to Instagram (although she has since deleted them) and thanked the paparazzi for being there to document the whole thing. "When you get so annoyed that paparazzi found you on vacation but then kind of get excited that they captured this moment! I'm a good sister, I videoed the whole thing," she captioned her post, according to HuffPost

Granted, there's not much you can do to help someone when they're vomiting, but holding someone's hair back or fetching a bottle of water would feel better than a phone to the face and a worldwide broadcast.

Ryan Seacrest may have dumped her for partying too hard

While Julianne Hough seemed candid about her split from Ryan Seacrest, there may have been more to their breakup than she was willing to reveal publicly. An insider close to the American Idol and Live with Kelly And Ryan host told The National Enquirer (via Radar Online) that it may have actually been Hough's own hard partying that led to their romance ending.

"Ryan tried his best to keep up with Julianne, but in the end he just couldn't," the source claimed. "He's older, already established and set in his ways, and he was getting tired of telling her to lay off the alcohol and stop overindulging. They constantly fought because he wanted her to slow down and she wanted him to lighten up and enjoy life more. [Seacrest] couldn't stand to watch her throw her life away."

Julianne Hough was abused when she was young

Julianne Hough revealed that when she studied dance in London as a teen under the tutelage of fellow Dancing with the Stars pro Mark Ballas' parents, Corky and Shirley, she suffered horrific abuse.

"While I was in London, I was abused, mentally, physically, everything," Hough told Cosmopolitan in January 2013. She added that the abuse worsened when she "started hitting puberty, when [she] started becoming a woman and stopped being a little girl." The dancer added, "I was 10 years old looking like I was 28, being a very sensual dancer. I was a tormented little kid who had to put on this sexy facade because that was my job and my life ... 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."

Her interview reportedly led to a feud with the Ballas family. "[Corky and Shirley] are livid with Julianne over suggestions that she was abused in the U.K. under their care," a source close to the Ballas brood told Star (via Radar Online). "At Corky's own expense, he took Julianne into his home and turned her into a world-class dancer. Now, he feels like he has been ambushed. At the end of her time in London, they were barely speaking."

She set her brother up with her bestie

It's good to be Julianne Hough's brother Derek, because that means you have access to all of her stunning BFFs. Case in point: Nina Dobrev. Derek dated The Vampire Diaries actress briefly after meeting her through his Dancing with the Stars co-host and sis. A source dished to Us Weekly, "[Nina] was hanging a lot with Derek's sister Julianne. Then she fell for him."

Unfortunately, the romance wasn't built to last, and E! News reported that they split just six weeks after going public, citing long distance struggles. They still remain friendly, and Dobrev was even in Julianne's wedding to Brooks Laich. Don't cry too much for Derek, though: The rest of Julianne's friends look pretty beautiful too!

Julianne Hough beefed with Amber Rose

When Amber Rose competed on Dancing with the Stars, Julianne Hough offered up some criticism that many perceived as unkind. During a September 2016 performance, Rose wrapped her leg around her professional partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, after which Hough sniffed, "I actually feel a little uncomfortable."

The comment offended Rose. "It was a point in the dance where I had to lift my leg up and Maks dipped me and [Julianne] said, 'Oh, I'm uncomfortable,' and instantly I felt — I did feel body-shamed," Rose said on her Loveline With Amber Rose podcast (via E! News). "You know, all the beautiful professional dancers that are on Dancing With The Stars, I mean — they dress very sexy, and they do the splits and they grind up on these guys, and they look absolutely stunning and get a standing ovation. And me, and my body, my hips, my a**, my breasts made her uncomfortable."

Hough later told E! News, "To be clear, that was a produced package, not live coverage and they can put those sound bites anywhere. My 'uncomfortable' comment was about the fact that I felt like I wanted more out of the performance — when someone is doing a hot, sexy dance like that without the right amount of energy that is required, it can be uncomfortable to watch." The next night, Hough offered a quasi-apology when she hugged Rose and said, "That is not who I am, and I'm sorry if that made you feel that way."

She struggled with her body image

Julianne Hough confessed that when she was in her late teens, she had an unhealthy relationship with food and body image, but has stopped short of saying she had an eating disorder. "When I look at pictures of myself when I was 19, my body was bangin', but I was killing myself," she admitted to Shape. "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."

Now that Hough is healthy, she's happier, but that doesn't mean she doesn't still get pressure to fit a certain mold. In the fall of 2019, Variety reported that Hough was let go from America's Got Talent after facing a lot of scrutiny behind the scenes as a judge. The outlet noted that Hough and fellow judge Gabrielle Union were often critiqued for their appearances, which reportedly caused tension on set. Hough, however, has since denied the claim's accuracy in the context of her own experience — but didn't come back for another season of the hit competition series.

Julianne Hough revealed she's 'not straight'

Julianne Hough revealed to Women's Health in 2019 that her relationship with husband Brooks Laich, whom she married in 2017, took a deeper turn when she revealed to him that she wasn't just attracted to men. "I [told him], 'You know I'm not straight, right?' And he was like, 'I'm sorry, what?' I was like, 'I'm not. But I choose to be with you,'" she recalled to the magazine. "I think there's a safety with my husband now that I'm unpacking all of this, and there's no fear of voicing things that I've been afraid to admit or that I've had shame or guilt about because of what I've been told or how I was raised."

Hough didn't elaborate on her sexuality beyond that, nor did she label herself in a particular identity beyond "not straight." Hough's comments about her newfound honesty and candor can be interpreted in a variety of ways, but it's possible her Mormon upbringing played a role in her taking a while to figure herself out.

Julianne Hough suffered from an undiagnosed medical condition for years

Julianne Hough, like fellow stars Halsey and Lena Dunham and one in 10 women of reproductive age, suffers from endometriosis. As she revealed to Women's Health, she went years without knowing why she was in so much pain and assumed she just had bad periods and extreme cramps — cramps so extreme that she once went to the emergency room during a commercial break on Dancing with the Stars.

While no one in the ER knew what was wrong with her back then, the actress-dancer finally got a diagnosis after some testing and exams. "At the time, I felt very lonely and like nobody understood me. I had no idea that [so many women] had endometriosis," Hough said. Prior to learning that she had a legitimate medical problem, she admitted, "Because I'm a competitor, I felt like I had to push through the pain and just work." Other endometriosis symptoms besides cramps can include pain during intercourse (which she also discussed, of course), as well as heavy and/or irregular periods.

"You have two choices: You can hate it, or it can just become part of you. It doesn't need to define you, it's just an aspect of who you are," Hough said of her condition, adding, "It's all about connecting to your body, loving it unconditionally, and trusting how you feel."

Her relationship with her ex-husband was highly publicized - by her

Julianne Hough and her ex-husband, hockey star Brooks Laich, announced their separation in 2020 after nearly 3 years of wedded bliss. "We have lovingly and carefully taken the time we have needed to arrive at our decision to separate," the pair shared in a statement to People. "We share an abundance of love and respect for one another and will continue to lead with our hearts from that place. We kindly request your compassion and respect for our privacy moving forward."

During their time together, Hough was an avid Instagram poster, sharing intimate details of their lives together with the world. "My curiosity has saved my life and honestly saved our relationship many times because we've been curious about, like, 'Hey, something doesn't feel right. Instead of just accepting it for how it is, let's look into something,'" she shared on Laich's podcast "How Men Think" (via Page Six) in 2019. But their split, which was finalized in 2022, hasn't stopped them from seeing each other. Between some playful Instagram banter to appearing as a bridesmaid and groomsman in Julianne's brother Derek Hough's wedding to Hayley Erbert, there doesn't seem to be bad blood between the two. "We had the most beautiful separation," Hough reflected to the New York Post. "We went through things amicably. It was filled with love and respect...I want nothing but the best for him." Hough has since been linked to model Charlie Wilson, while Laich went public with his relationship with Katrín Tanja Davíðsdóttir in 2021.

The pandemic inspired her to make a career (and location) change

After a difficult 2020, which included her split from ex-husband Brooks Laich, Julianne Hough decided to heal in new ways, including moving to New York City for new professional opportunities and a new mindset to boot. "I love New York, it's so incredible," she shared with Entertainment Tonight. "I feel like, a whole new energy of this next stage of life, of my career, and what I want to create and put out in the world. This is where I'm meant to be right now, so, feeling good."

Hough scooped up co-hosting duties for the pre-show at both the 2021 and 2022 Tony Awards (aka the Oscars of the theatre world) alongside the likes of Darren Criss and Skylar Astin. She's even performed in the main show itself alongside Oscar winner Ariana Debose. But her main focus on the once called "Great White Way" came from her Broadway debut in the play "POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive," co-starring Rachel Dratch, Vanessa Williams, Lea DeLaria, and more. "The great thing about being a part of an ensemble with this kind of cast is, I don't have to carry the show and feel the pressure or feel the responsibility," she told the New York Post. "I get to be a student and soak in all of the incredible information and the teachings that I feel like they're sharing, not even realizing that they're giving me so much."

She almost turned down Dancing With The Stars to be an actress

Before she became a Mirrorball champion dancer turned judge, and more recently turned co-host, of "Dancing with the Stars," Julianne Hough almost decided to forgo the show entirely in favor of pursuing acting full time. "I was like, 'You know, I want to be a respected actress and singer. I don't want to be on a competition show, you know, dancing,'" Hough shared on "The Kelly Clarkson Show." "I was like, you know, this is what I want to do. This is my path. And then I was like, well I guess it's kind of a good thing to be able to have that as my day job."

It turned out to be a pretty good day job, with Hough taking home back-to-back Mirrorball trophies in seasons 4 and 5 with partners Apolo Anton Ohno and Helio Castroneves, respectively. She has returned to the show on and off as a guest judge throughout the years, and was announced as the show's newest co-host (replacing Tyra Banks) for the show's 32nd season in 2023. "The door has always been open for me to join or come back in any capacity because 'Dancing with the Stars' is my family," she shared with Variety. "It's where I feel the most myself and the most at home...When the idea of coming back to host came around, it was truly a full circle moment. I've now been a part of the show in every role — being a professional dancer to judge to now hosting."

She turned her personal workouts into a fitness business

Being a professional dancer, it's clear that fitness is a key part of Julianne Hough's life. But the entertainer turned her daily routines into a personal brand that fans and fitness lovers alike can follow through her own exercise company, KINIRGY. The platform boasts a variety of classes that cover both physical and mental workouts. "I think what I've realized over the years, being an athlete and a dancer, is there has always been so much focus on performance and a perfect body and all of those things, but I never really gave myself the opportunity to heal and to recover," she shared with Shape. "...So, if we take care of our body, our mind gets better. If we take care of our mind, our body gets better."

In addition to her own company, Hough is also a spokesperson for select body and wellness brands including Therabody, which specializes in "tech wellness" for the body and mind. "I initially became a #Therabody investor because I truly believe in the brand and their mission to help people nurture and take care of themselves, which is something that I never gave myself growing up as a dancer and athlete," Hough shared on Instagram. Hough constantly shares her latest routines on her social media and in interviews, keeping fans and fitness gurus up-to-date with her latest regimes. "It's not about how hard it is, it's about how well you're doing the move," she told Self.

She's very open about her mental health and healing journey

Like many people, the trials and tribulations that Julianne Hough has experienced in her life have inspired her to pursue healing in various forms. Personally, Hough has always been upfront about her journey publicly and sharing ways that she privately copes with life and its lessons. "I think happy is a place that you go to visit," she told CNN. "And I think that for me, striving to be a hundred percent happy all the time is just unattainable...But I think that the point is like you never know what's really happening and life is complex and so nobody's one shade of anything. There's a spectrum of light and dark and happy and sad and it's constantly moving."

She is also a strong advocate for self care, whether it's getting active and working up a sweat or slowing down and letting your thoughts take over. "The more you take care of yourself, the more you can give, the more you can contribute, the more you can connect with others," she shared with Women's Health. She has partnered with brands like BIC (the razor company) to showcase body wellness, as well as given tips and tricks that she uses to keep her mind and movement straight. "There's so much more permission today to—as women, as men, whoever, however you identify—to really nurture and take care of yourself and give yourself an essential experience," she told Women's Health. "It makes me happy to see that."