Julianne Hough: DWTS champ to country superstar

Not many know Julianne Hough spent eight years in London. The Dancing with the Stars two-time champion and current hit country singer credits that time with providing her the discipline needed to succeed in entertainment at an early age. “Going over there at 10 years old, I wasn’t with my mom or my dad. I lived with a family out there and my brother Derek also lived there. It was pretty intense,” Hough says.

Julianne Hough can add hit singer to her resumeThe 2009 New Artist winner for the Academy of Country Music awards, Hough is well on her way to being a country superstar.

Julianne’s journey

Hough has an extraordinary story. As a girl in Utah, she adored country music and always dreamed of touring the world with some of the genre’s biggest names. She also had an impeccable talent for dance that was also impossible to ignore.Her time in London may have put her and fellow Dancing with the Stars former champion brother in an English pop band, but life was not all rosesShe was barely twelve years old and the product of divorce. “We were all so miserable,” Hough says and laughs.

That’s the thing about Hough after speaking to her. She has the most unforgettable joyous laughter that lies at the heart of why she is where she is at the young age of twenty. Hough is far from unhappy currently. Her Dancing with the Stars stint has proved priceless while her country debut is an enormous hit. With its deeply personal lyrics and intricate songwriting, Hough’s boot scooting boogie is more of a song and dance!

Hough called us while readying for a “dream” tour we’ll let her tell you all about in support of her self-titled album. An album, we must point out, topped both the country and Hot 100 charts. Did we mention she makes her own phone calls?

London calling

Chuck and Julianne at the Academy of Country Music AwardsJulianne Hough: This is Julianne Hough.SheKnows: Well, hello Julianne.Julianne Hough: Is this is an OK time?SheKnows: Yeah, wow! Thanks for calling me, Julianne. This is a true pleasure. Thanks for giving SheKnows a ring.Julianne Hough: Absolutely.SheKnows: First of all, how did studying in London for all those years as a child influence you as an overall artist?Julianne Hough: I had to grow up really quickly. I had to figure out what I wanted to do at an early age. I quickly learned that not matter what I want to be an entertainer. Whether it’s singing, dancing or acting, I’ve been so fortunate and blessed that I’ve been able to do all three. Of course it starts out with the dancing and moves now to the singing and eventually acting, but yeah, it’s pretty crazy.SheKnows: Now, you’re a long way from London, but I can tell it’s had a huge effect on you.Julianne Hough: The culture itself is so different over there, I wasn’t the only 10-year-old traveling an hour and a half to go to school everyday. I had a cell phone at eleven (laughs). It really makes you grow up fast, you’re not sheltered, and you’re this little person in this big city. You need to set yourself apart from everybody else if you’re going to make it. I don’t know. London was very influential on me and definitely feel blessed that I went. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t gone there. I don’t think I would have had the discipline and the motivation and the maturity to do what I do at 20-years-old.SheKnows: As you came up, obviously you said you got known as a dancer first, was that a conscious choice on your part?

Hough’s Dancing days

Julianne Hough: It’s an interesting story. When I was 18, I had just graduated from high school and I knew I wanted to come out to LA to do entertainment. Whether it was singing or acting — I didn’t really plan on doing the dancing. But I knew that I have more connections when it comes to dancing. I knew some of the other dancers that were on Dancing with the Stars before I was on. When I came out here I was just doing small gigs, commercials, and choreography for artists to pay my rent. I even told my dad I had $5,000 — I only had two — to come out here (laughs), so it was definitely a challenge. I slept on a coach for a little bit, but it’s all good now. I think I was there for three months and was running low on money and Dancing with the Stars show decided to make a tour. They needed some background, filler dancers. I said, ‘alright. I’ll go.’ I went on just to pay the rent and I ended up meeting my music manager that I have today. His company co-produced the Dancing with the Stars tour. So, it was great. I met him and he said, ‘I don’t know why, but you stand out for me. Do you sing?’ I thought ‘Oh my gosh, this is my lucky break.’ (Laughs) I went and sang for him at one of the dressing rooms at one of the venues and he was like, ‘alright, let’s make a record.’ Oh my gosh, this is crazy. I was planning on doing the music and then three weeks later the producers of Dancing with the Stars television show came to one of the shows on the road and basically said the same thing. ‘Hey, you really stand out. I would love for you to be a part of the television show.’ At first, I don’t think I want to do that. I really want to sing. The singing is always going to be my base. I’ll always go back to that. I was worried I was going to be typecast as just a dancer. This reality star (laughs). I was worried about that. But, then I realized, this is an amazing opportunity. First of all, I get to do something that I love. Second of all, the exposure is unbeatable. The way the music industry is nowadays, it’s so hard to make it. I’m going to try to get my foot in the door and if it works, it works. If it doesn’t work, I’m still going to pursue the music anyway. So, it worked (laughs).Julianne boogies down with Chuck on DWTSSheKnows: It certainly did.Julianne Hough: I had a great experience my first couple of seasons — the best fans. I have to say, I have the most loyal fans. They’ve followed me from Dancing with the Stars to my music career. They’ve been the best. I cannot ask for better people in my corner.SheKnows: I’ve attended the tour and those Dancing with the Stars fans are die-hard.Julianne Hough: They are (laughs).

Winning at ACM

SheKnows: To launch a career singing outside of Dancing with the Stars, even with the name recognition —that’s no guarantee of musical success — for you to receive that ACM award for Best New Artist a few weeks ago — how rewarding was that?Julianne Hough: Oh my gosh, that was the most unbelievable experience I will ever experience. I hope to be able to be recognized in the future. That will always be the most important because it was fan voted. If I could win any award in my life — that’s the one I want to win. The other cool part is after I won I was backstage and other artists came up to me and said, ‘congratulations girl. We were rooting for you. Welcome to country music.’SheKnows: That is so nice!Julianne Hough: That was such a great feeling. My fans are the ones that got me there, but the people that are accepting me also are in the business. I’m so grateful.

Up next…Julianne shares why country music has always spoken to her and her 2009 People Magazine Most Beautiful People award!