Also Credited As:Julianne Alexandra Hough
|Julianne Alexandra Hough on July 20, 1988 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA|
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Born July 20, 1988 in Orem, UT, Hough was the youngest of five siblings in a ballroom-dancing family raised in the Mormon faith. The family's artistic abilities earned them the nickname locally as "the blonde Osmonds," but unlike their darker-haired, more famous counterparts, the Hough family was shaken by their parent's separation. The then 10-year-old charmer - already a talented singer and actress - decided to primarily focus on dancing. Along with her brother equally talented brother Derek - a future "DWTS" winner and scene-stealer himself - Hough left home to move train in London. While there, Hough partnered Mark Ballas, the son of the siblings' world-renowned coaches, Corky and Shirley Ballas. It was with Mark that Hough won all of her dance titles. So tight was the childhood-long friendship between Mark and the Hough siblings - considered honorary Ballas kids after spending so much time with the family - that the trio formed a short-lived pop music trio, 2B1G ("2 Boys, 1 Girl").) At the time, Hough was the youngest (and only) American dancer to become both International Latin Youth Champion and Junior Blackpool World Latin Champion.
After five years abroad, Hough returned to the U.S., finished up high school and moved to Los Angeles, earning choreography credits and appearing as an extra on television as well as in commercials. Her training paid off when she landed a role as a "Million Dollar Dancer" on the game show, "Show Me the Money" (ABC, 2006). Shortly thereafter, she joined the "Dancing with the Stars" first cross-country tour as a company dancer. When "DWTS" dancer Kym Johnson injured her arm, Hough stepped in as her replacement and tangoed across America stages with season one competitor, singer Joey McIntyre. She also raised eyebrows with her engagement to fellow dancer Zach Wilson, which she would break off shortly afterwards.
On Hough's first season of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ), the stunning young dancer and her partner, Olympic gold medal-winning speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, twirled off with the championship trophy. She won the following season as well, paired with Indy race car driver, Hélio Castroneves, but had less luck in the sixth season when dancing with radio host-comedian, Adam Carolla; they were eliminated in the fourth week. In July 2008, Hough was nominated for an Emmy for the choreography of her mambo, "Para Los Rumberos," performed with partner Castroneves. For season seven, Hough was partnered with "Hannah Montana" (The Disney Channel, 2006- ) actor Cody Linley, but was rushed to the hospital in October 2008 immediately after a show to have her appendix removed. Much like Hough had stepped in for Kym Johnson when she was injured, the leggy Edyta Śliwińska stood in for her during Hough's absence. When Hough returned triumphantly to the show - dancing with her brother Derek (himself, now a cast member) to an Emmy-nominated dance routine to "Great Balls of Fire" - she and Linley were ultimately eliminated in the Semifinals Competition. During this heady time, Hough and Derek - who also won the show twice and was widely regarded as the best choreographer of all the professionals - were selected as the favorite pros by an online vote at ABC.com.
Coming off her dancing success, Hough began recording her self-titled debut country album during her breaks. Her Red Cross-fundraising single, "Will You Dance with Me?" made it to No. 8 on the iTunes country charts. Signed to Mercury Nashville Records in December 2007, she released her album in May 2008. It debuted at No. 1 on the country charts and No. 3 on the Billboard 100 and included a duet with her brother, "Dreaming Under the Same Moon." While on tour with Brad Paisley to promote her music, Hough met and fell in love with fellow up-and-coming country singer, Chuck Wicks, with whom she later became engaged. Despite announcing that she was finished competing in the televised ballroom, Hough returned to "DWTS" to partner with Wicks. Although an attractive couple on and off the dance floor, they came in sixth place for season eight. It was then that Hough officially chose to leave the show to focus on her music fulltime, releasing a holiday EP as well as appearing in a musical Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum commercial. In 2009, she won Top New Female Vocalist and Top New Artist at the Academy of Country Music Awards. That year, she and Wicks broke up and she released a fitness DVD, "Dance with Julianne: Cardio Ballroom."
To speed up her country music momentum, Hough released "Is That So Wrong," the lead-off single from her second album, and appeared as one of the vocalists on the relief project, "We Are the World 25 for Haiti," which was poorly received. Fans were excited to hear that Hough was cast as a dancer in the Christina Aguilera/Cher musical extravaganza, "Burlesque" (2010), and in the 2011 remake of the teen dance classic, "Footloose" (1984) as the female lead, Ariel Moore. The lure of sequins and cha-cha-cha-ing in heels for America's votes proved irresistible to Hough, who delighted many by announcing she would return to compete on the eleventh season of "DWTS." At that same time, Hough was garnering the first of her significant tabloid headlines by being photographed kissing "American Idol" (Fox, 2002- ) host Ryan Seacrest, whom she was reportedly dating.