Derek Hough on Dancing With the Stars: What Is His DWTS 2020 ‘Mystery Role’?

Derek Hough DWTS

Getty Derek Hough is returning to "Dancing With the Stars" for season 29.

Ahead of the September 14 premiere of Dancing With the Stars season 29, ABC teased that former DWTS star Derek Hough would be returning to the show where he got his start in a very special role. Hough went on Good Morning America, where the celebrity dance competition’s 2020 cast was announced the previous week, to explain the capacity in which he’d be rejoining DWTS.

GMA revealed on September 8 that Hough’s “mystery role” for DWTS season 29 will be as a judge! Hough will be replacing long-time judge Len Goodman on the panel, since Goodman is unable to travel to the ballroom for live filming due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Hough will join Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli as the season’s 3 judges.

When asked what kind of judge he’ll be on the show, and if he’ll be hard on the pairs, Hough told GMA, “One thing I can’t hide are my expressions… but I’ll be fair, I’ll be honest… but more importantly, I want to inspire these celebrities to have the best time possible and get better each week.”

Hough has experience judging dance; he has served on the celebrity judges panel for the reality competition series World of Dance, which premiered in 2017. Hough’s younger sister Julianne Hough, who also rose to fame as a DWTS pro, had a short stint as a judge on Dancing With the Stars after her departure from the competing cast.

Hough Left the ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Cast in 2016 After 17 Seasons

Hough was a fan-favorite professional dancer on Dancing With the Stars from 2007 until 2016. Hough has the most mirror ball trophy wins out of all of the DWTS pros, winning 6 seasons before departing from the show to continue his career in entertainment elsewhere. Hough earned 2 Emmys as a key part of Dancing With the Stars. Hough told Good Morning America that he believed his extensive experience on the show prepared him to empathize with and support the competing cast, saying “I was on the show for 17 seasons, so there’s nothing they’ll go through that I haven’t gone through.”

After departing DWTS, much to the show’s fans’ dismay, Hough spoke to Us Weekly about whether or not he’d ever return to the ballroom. He said, “I will never say never. Listen, I’m an advocate for dance and I’m an advocate for entertaining. I’m an entertainer. I’m here to serve. I’m here to serve the audience and to create stories and to serve the world of dance. So any way I can help, I’ll be happy to do it.”

Hough’s Role Replacing Goodman as a Judge Is One of a Few Major ‘DWTS’ Casting Changes This Season

While the absence of Len Goodman and the addition of Derek Hough behind the judges’ desk may seem like a major change for the Dancing With the Stars dynamic, it is not the only big shift happing this season. Earlier this year, ABC announced that longtime hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews would not be returning to the ballroom; in their place, Tyra Banks will be the show’s new host for season 29.

According to E! News, Hough commented on the casting change. On Bevelations, he said, “To be honest, Tyra Banks, I actually… I think she’s fantastic. I thought she was a fantastic host on America’s Got Talent. I thought she did an amazing job. So, I feel optimistic for that switch-up. I think she’ll be fantastic. But as far as my history and my friendship, I was definitely shocked about Tom Bergeron, for sure.”

Beloved DWTS pros Whitney Carson and Lindsay Arnold will also be missing from the ballroom this season, as both are pregnant with their first babies.

Dancing With the Stars season 29 premieres on Monday, September 14 at 8/7c on ABC.

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