Julianne Hough has full confidence that brother Derek Hough will bring it on the judges' panel on Dancing With the Stars, but offered him a little sisterly advice to calm his nerves nevertheless. Ahead of Monday's Season 29 premiere of the ABC dance competition, Julianne shared some of the conversations she has had with her big brother on Access as he prepares to critique the couples alongside Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli.
Looking fondly back on the show that launched her career, first as a pro dancer and then as a judge, Julianne said she felt "fully expressed" as an artist on DWTS before leaving her judging position in 2017. "I will never forget the family that was created there," she gushed. Although she isn't allowed to see Derek in person ahead of his judging debut due to COVID-19 precautions, which have the World of Dance star getting tested every day, Julianne said she has been texting her brother about his nerves.
"I just told him, honestly it's such an easy job, 'cause you have 20 seconds [to give your opinion]," she told Access. "But at the same time, there's so much pressure, because you want to be able to say the right thing that can really help that couple do the best that they can for next week. So I understand the pressure, but I'm like, 'Derek, you got this! You're a pro! You're amazing! Everything that comes out of your mouth is gold anyway, so you're good.'"
Derek is taking the seat of longtime judge Len Goodman, who will weigh in on the season virtually from his U.K. home due to coronavirus travel restrictions. "It's interesting, actually, because being apart of the show for so long, so many seasons, I feel like I've been through every possible experience," Derek told Entertainment Tonight of his return. "Embarrassment, bad choices, triumphs, success, all the different experiences you could imagine. I kinda felt like I've already done that part. So coming back into a new role ... I feel like I have a lot of compassion and empathy, but also a lot of experience."
The Rock of Ages star added he's "not going to be mean" when judging the dancers. "I'm going to be fair, I'm going to be honest, but I'm definitely not going to be mean. That's just not who I am," he said. "And here's the thing. I'm not replacing Len, he's still very much part of the show, so I'm certainly not trying to sort of fill those shoes, if that makes sense. Len is Len and Bruno is Bruno, you know? They are who they are."