Four months after sharing she’s “not straight,” Julianne Hough says she feels “a lot of freedom” in being her unapologetic, authentic self. Since that much-buzzed-about interview with Women’s Health in August, Julianne has come into her own even more — and she wants the same for other people, too. Chatting with People Now, the multi-hyphenate star opened up about what life has been like since she stripped down metaphorically and, for WH‘s Naked Strength issue, literally.
Julianne’s brother Derek Hough joined her to chat with People Now hosts Jeremy Parsons and Andrea Boehlke. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for the conversation to light on Hough’s “not straight” remark that gained so much attention. Was it liberating for her? “Oh yeah, absolutely. And for me, it was all about de-layering and that’s why I did that cover, because it was the naked strength issue,” she said, admitting, “and I felt more myself in that moment than I ever have. For me, that comment specifically was basically to say I love everyone, I’ve never been a fan of labels, I don’t identify that way and so, for me, it’s just about love.”
Julianne even got emotional search for the perfect way to describe how freeing it was for her to bare both body and soul in the interview. “That expression, for me, I just want every human to feel that way. That, like, they are perfect and beautiful and who they are is enough and, just, I love people,” she said, choking up. “I love love, I love people, and I just want everybody to feel that.”
According to Derek, he didn’t need any further explanation from his sister after the interview. “I already knew exactly what she meant because I know her heart, and I know who she is,” he said, pointing out that it’s ironic people have since tried to label his sister’s declaration that she doesn’t really respond to labels.
That tendency for people to spin their own interpretations is another reason Julianne is so passionate now about living her truth. “I wanna have the narrative of my own story and be the voice of my own story versus people speculating on certain things,” she explained, continuing, “I think that I’m a person who thrives off of flow instead of absolute certainty… and I think that gives me a lot of freedom. You know, sometimes you feel confined by your own shackles, right? So, the more I feel like I express, it doesn’t carry any weight for me holding me down.”
Now, more than ever, Julianne believes in the importance of liberating herself from any sort of toxic thought patterns and just saying what she feels. “I think we’re living in a time where mental health is so, so important to address,” she said, “and it’s a lot, I believe, of the body holding on to information. So, if we don’t express it vocally with our voice, how do we emote it? So, I think even moving your body and crying and all of that is so healthy.”
At which point, Derek — who’d been largely quiet so his sister could speak — interjected, “As the great philosopher Elsa from Frozen said, ‘Let it go.'”