Dazzling pro dancer Julianne Hough snagged the coveted Dancing with the Stars mirror-ball trophy two seasons in a rowÃ¢â‚¬”both in 2007Ã¢â‚¬”paired with speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and race-car driver Helio Castroneves. But she had her eye on a bigger prize. So in 2008 she took a break from the show to pursue a singing and acting career.
Too much too soon? Not for this multitalented 22-year-old. Her 2008 self-titled debut album nabbed her two awards from the Academy of Country Music (her next album, still untitled, is in the works), and in 2010 she hit the big screen in Burlesque alongside Cher and Christina Aguilera. And according to her brother and fellow DWTS champ, Derek, 25, "she's just getting warmed up."
He's not kidding. This October, Julianne can be seen in the remake of the 1984 cult classic Footloose. After that, her biggest part yet: a starring role in the big-screen musical Rock of AgesÃ¢â‚¬”opposite Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, and Mary J. BligeÃ¢â‚¬”playing Sherrie, a small-town girl who moves to Hollywood to make it big.
It's a story line that could have been inspired by Julianne's own life. Raised in a Mormon family in Utah, she's the youngest of five (14 when counting step-siblings).
"We were bred to perform," says Julianne, whose mom enrolled her kids in ballet, tap, singing, piano...you name it. The Hough siblings even formed a singing group ("The Blonde Osmonds," jokes Julianne), which performed at local fairs.
Check out scenes from Julianne's cover shoot below and download an exclusive workout guide to get a dancer's body like hers right here!
When Julianne was 10, around the time her parents split up, dance coaches from London invited her and Derek to train overseas. She studied singing, dancing, and acting for five years at the prestigious Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, but by the time she was 15, Julianne realized she was missing out on normal life.
"I wanted to go to the prom," she says. "I wanted to talk about boys." She returned to Utah but had a hard time fitting in. "I'd get invited to a party, but it would turn out to be an abandoned house," she recalls of her run-ins with mean girls. At 18, she decided to give L.A. a try. Several months later, she landed a spot on Dancing with the Stars.
What Happens in Cabo...
Today, at lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge, Julianne looks like a born-and-bred Los Angeleno with her sun-kissed hair, pool-blue eyes, and taut body clad in a T-shirt, leather vest, and snug white jeans. Clamped around her wrist: a Cartier "Love" braceletÃ¢â‚¬”a gift from boyfriend Ryan Seacrest, 36, host of American Idol and anchor of E! News, to name just a couple of his gigs. In other words, Julianne managed to hook up with the one person in Hollywood who is as crazy-busy as she is.
Despite their insane work schedules, the couple was recently able to squeeze in a quick getaway to Los Cabos, MexicoÃ¢â‚¬”but thanks to the paparazzi, you probably already knew that. The tabloids had a field day chronicling their every canoodle. "It kind of sucks," says Julianne of the intrusive shots that show her sunbathing in a bikini and cowboy hat. "I was thinking, Oh, crap, maybe I should've sucked in a little. They were photographing us from a boat, and it was the first time I've gotten upset, like, 'I can't just lay out and stuff my face?' It really messes with you."
Body of Work
When the waiter comes over, Julianne warns, "I'm going to be your typical annoying person. Can I get a mixed green salad, no cheese, with lemon? Then for my entree, salmon and mixed vegetables--no oil or salt?" When he walks away, Julianne shakes her head. "I hate being that person. I usually eat [whatever], butÃ¢â‚¬Â¦"
When a slim celeb claims she wants to chow down, you usually think, Yeah, right. But when Julianne says it, you believe her. She's candid and transparentÃ¢â‚¬”unafraid to share personal details.
"Growing up, I could eat anything," she says. "But the minute I hit 22, I stopped dancing and kept eating whatever I wanted, and I gained weight. Then I started reading [critical] comments in blogs. That freaks you out and you get caught up in it. But if I deprive myself, I end up binge eating. I didn't want to do that. Now if I want something, I'll have it and I won't feel guilty. Then the next day I won't crave it."
That levelheaded plan, coupled with a calorie-burning workout routine, has the star back in peak shape. "I hate being in the gym," she says, "but I love taking Tracy Anderson classes because they're fun and dance-y."
And while she enjoys being active, sports like snowboarding and mountain biking are pretty much the only ones she has an aptitude for. "I have no hand-eye coordination. Dancers are the most uncoordinated people at stuff like that. Baseball? I'm terrible. Pick me last."
When she's on tour or on location she mixes things up, some days working with a trainer, some days doing P90X DVDs, and other days running around amphitheaters and torturing her band. "This is funny or maybe narcissistic," she says with a laugh, "but one day we put on one of my fitness DVDs [she has two: Cardio Ballroom and Just Dance!]. The guys were trying to swivel their hips. We were all laughing!"
Secrets to Her Success
For anyone wondering where her considerable drive comes from, Julianne says: "Being the baby of the family, you try to be the center of attention. But it's more about being competitive with myself. I know what I'm capable of, and I don't ever want to sell myself short."
There's little chance of that happening. She hasn't even had a costume fitting for Rock of Ages yet and accolades are already coming in: "Yes, it's true," Ages director Adam Shankman tweeted when the news was announced. "Julianne Hough was beyond brilliant in her audition." Between projects, she plans to squeeze in more mini getaways, paparazzi be damned. "I never took vacations before," she admits.
"I worked but never took time to enjoy the success. Now if I have three days, why not go somewhere? It's like, why take a rocket to the moon if you don't look out the window?" A perfectly legit question for a woman on a rapid rise.