Derek Hough Reveals How He Got Through His Rough First Season on ‘Dancing With the Stars’

Derek Hough DWTS Finale Dance


Six-time Dancing With the Stars mirrorball champion and new judge Derek Hough opened up about what the show has done for him and what his first seasons in the ballroom were like during an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune.

When Hough first started dancing professionally on DWTS, he was mostly known as previous champion Julianne Hough’s brother. Julianne is also a multi-time winner of the mirrorball trophy.

Adding to the pressure, Hough knew he was very young to be dancing on the show professionally. He was just 22 years old in 2007 during his first season on the show, and he looked very young. In a recent YouTube video, he said he believes he looked “about 12 years old” during that first season.

Hough Said He Felt Like He Was “Faking It” During His First Season

Because he was so young, Hough told The Salt Lake Tribune that he didn’t really know what to expect his first season on the show or what he was doing, really. He said his first couple partners on the show thought he was much younger than he was.

“Honestly, I felt like I was just kind of faking it,” he told the outlet. “Trying to prove myself to my partners.”

He didn’t succeed in winning it all until three years later, when he brought Brooke Burke to the finale in season 7. He has since won the show with partners Nicole Scherzineger, Jennifer Grey, Kellie Pickler, Amber Riley and Bindi Irwin.

He’s also now a nine-time Emmy nominee for Outstanding Choreography, a title he’s brought home twice, once in 2015 for “Routine: Elastic Heart” on DWTS and in 2013 for “Routines: Hey Pachuco / Para Los Rumberos / Walking On Air” on the same show. He was first nominated for an Emmy Award in 2009.

In a recent YouTube video, Hough reflected on his past on DWTS and reacted to his first-ever dance on the show. He noted that after the episode, his sisters called him and told him he shouldn’t be dancing so much, as the show was about all eyes on the celebrities and not the professional dancers.

‘Dancing With the Stars’ Has Been “A Dream” For Hough

Next week, on October 19, Hough will be performing on the ballroom floor with his longtime girlfriend Hayley Erbert, who he actually met through the show.

“Being a part of this show has been such a dream, and I’m so thankful for it,” Hough said in the interview with The Salt Lake Times. “And to have the honor and the pleasure to perform once again in this sacred place, it really is a pleasure.”

He added that he feels like he owes a lot to DWTS and the people who have been a part of it, including all of the people who work on the show right now.

“It’s really, really special,” he shared. “And to be a part of this journey once again in a different role is magical.”

Hough Aims to Bring “Magic,” “Positivity,” and “Pure Entertainment”

Earlier this year, it was announced that Derek Hough had been offered a large contract with ABC to host and develop specials and entertainment programming.

“Coming home to ABC and being given the opportunity to develop projects for them that are as much on brand for them as they are for me makes this even that more exciting for me,” said Hough, according to an ABC Press Release.

The executives at ABC are excited to have him on board for the long-run

“Derek is a creative force not just in the ballroom but also every room he enters,” said Karey Burke, president, ABC Entertainment. “He has been part of our ABC family for many years; the energy and dedication he brings to every project is palpable. We value his partnership immensely and look forward to the exciting and imaginative projects to come.”

In the interview with The Salt Lake Times, the Utah native said that he’ll be using the contract to bring joy to people around the world, but any specific details for the projects he’s working on are still unavailable.

“Especially in these times right now, I feel like magic and lights and positivity and joy and just pure entertainment is what I want to be a part of,” he told the outlet. “And I think that Disney and ABC … embody that.”

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