I'm sure it's not easy being a television competition judge, but Dancing with the Stars' Julianne Hough attracts notable ire. It's not that the two-time winner and former guest judge doesn't know what she's talking about, or the fact that her brother will be performing on the show (can somebody say "conflict of interest"?), but the fact that Hough's tough love approach is about as welcome among fans as is one of Abby Lee Miller's freakouts on Dance Moms. We'll have to wait for the season to unfold before seeing if Hough has decided to change anything given past outcry over her style, but maybe we can get a little insight from Hough's life before she graced the Stars judging dais.
She's regrettably perhaps best known for her ill advised Crazy Eyes blackface costume, though in the actress' defense, she did later apologize and claimed she was merely paying tribute to her favorite show, Orange Is the New Black. To her credit, class act Uzo Aduba who plays Crazy Eyes felt the same way, accepting the apology and suggesting "we can all move on." Comedians Key and Peele humorously commented on the Hough incident on an episode of Paul F. Tompkins web show Speakeasy saying it was less a case of racism and more of a "really need to to tell you something" kind of event. It was clearly pretty misguided, but that's the same that many might say of her judging style.
Aside from Halloween costumes we all wish we could forget, Hough does have some dancing and musical chops. Fans of Footloose may have caught a young Hough in the 2011 remake. She comes from a pretty impressive pedigree of dancers, so if she is a little tough she may have good reason. All four grandparents, her parents, and four siblings are trained dancers, meaning she's been around dance since she was out of the womb. She also has her own cardio ballroom fitness videos, so she's been doing pretty well with turning her love of dance into a career.
While she may be a household name in the dancing sphere more than the acting sphere, she also brandished her pipes and fancy footwork in the Tom Cruise jukebox musical Rock of Ages. A guilty pleasure for the karaoke set, Hough does deliver a pretty masterful Broadway-style performance alongside the likes of Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Mary J. Blige, and of course star Cruise.
Hough may also be a tough judge for another reason — she had to grow up very fast as a young dancer, often enduring abuse at the hands of the adults that were supposed to nurture her. In a telling interview with Cosmopolitan, Hough recalls a stint studying at a London dance academy on scholarship, only to be pushed into a sexual image as a ten year old. She candidly remarked:
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.
She mentions physical and emotional abuse that occurred at that period in her life, and honestly, if Hough can overcome being slut-shamed before she was even early enough to date, she certainly has some wisdom to bring to the table. Here's hoping we get to see some of Hough's vulnerability this season and herald in a new era of Stars.