With both a Creative Arts Daytime Emmy and a hit solo album under her belt, Julianne Hough has already had an amazing career. Even more amazing is the fact that she's not even 21 yet. Burnout is something that often threatens early success stories like hers, but so far the wellspring of creativity inside of Julianne Hough seems to have only started.
An Early Education in the Arts
Born to a Mormon family in Provo, UT in 1988, she and her three sisters were born into a dancing family that originated with her grandparents. In fact, her parents met on a ballroom dance team, so the sport is truly in her blood. They encouraged her to study dance in nearby Orem, UT, and she started competing in the Latin category at age nine.
The next year, however, she and her brother Derek (also a competitive dancer on Dancing With the Stars) were sent to study in London with their dance coaches at the Italia Conti Academy. Far more than just dancing was taught there - theatre arts, gymnastics, and singing as well, which has stood Julianne Hough in good stead as she makes the transition from dancer to pop singing sensation.
Along with her coach's son, Mark Ballas, she and Derek formed a trio called "2B1G" and performed all over Great Britain at dance competitions and talent showcases. Her flair for winning with style became fully evident when, at age 15, she became both the youngest dancer and only American to win both Junior World Latin and International Latin Youth Championships at the Blackpool Dance Festival. She moved back to the U.S. afterwards, graduating high school and moving to Los Angeles for her shot at the big time.
Julianne Hough's Stellar Dance Career
"(One of the) very best dancers on the planet" is how ABC's 20/20 described Julianne Hough in their profile of her in 2007, and while she didn't exactly just spring into that title, her rise has been meteoric. As both a choreographer (for example, in Gwen Stefani's Wind It Up music video) and as a dancer in commercials and TV shows, she had steady work in the very competitive L.A. performance scene.
Then, in the fourth season of Dancing with the Stars, she was cast with Apolo Anton Ohno, an Olympic speed-skating champion. The two of them quickly became audience favorites, their natural athleticism and grace combining with on-camera chemistry that took them to the winner's circle in the TV competition. Again, Julianne was the youngest professional dancer to win that contest, and she returned to win season 6 of the show with Indy 500 winner Hélio Castroneves. Their final, winning dance performance is considered one of the most exciting and energetic dances ever put on TV. Her choreography continued to shine, however, and she was nominated for an Emmy in Outstanding Choreography for their number Para los Rumberos.
Though she didn't win a third season, that is probably due more to her partner, Adam Carolla, being uninterested in actually learning to dance well. During season 7 of Dancing With the Stars Julianne Hough was partnered with Cody Linley, an actor from Hannah Montana, but had to leave the show early in the season due to appendicitis. Returning shortly after surgery to continue the competition, the duo were nevertheless eliminated. At this time Julianne has said she has no intention of coming back to Dancing With the Stars, instead focusing on her music career.
Number One on the Charts
Perhaps realizing that she didn't have to work to become more famous, Julianne Hough donated all of the proceeds of her first country music single Will You Dance With Me to the American Red Cross. While that song only barely made it to the Billboard Top 100, her debut album came out at number 1 on the Country and Western charts, and got all the way to number 3 on the Billboard Top 200. As her music career continues, she has also released a Christmas Album and has toured with other stars such as Brad Paisley.
Coming full circle, in November 2008 her second single My Hallelujah Song was performed by her on Dancing with the Stars, with her old partners Derek Hough and Mark Ballas dancing with Lacey Schwimmer. With this much accomplished before she's even old enough to drink, Julianne Hough is bound to keep the world entertained for years to come.