Julianne Hough Says She Won’t Favor Brother Derek Hough on Dancing With the Stars: I’ll Be Harder on Him!

Julianne Hough to judge Dereck Hough
New Dancing With the Stars judge Julianne Hough responded to concerns that she'll favor brother Derek in the competition, telling Access Hollywood Live, "I'm going to be even harder on him" Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA

Blood may be thicker than water, but all bets are off in the ballroom. After Julianne Hough was appointed a fourth judge on season 19 of Dancing With the Stars, some (including DWTS pro Karina Smirnoff) questioned whether it was appropriate for her to be handing out scores alongside Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Bruno Tonioli, given her history with the show and the fact that her brother Derek is a competitor. But the former DWTS dancer promised Access Hollywood Live that she'll be just as tough on her older sibling as she is on everyone else — if not tougher.

"People are afraid about me judging my brother, but I'm going to be even harder on him," Ryan Seacrest's ex told Billy Bush and Kit Hoover on Thursday, Sept. 11.

Julianne and Derek dancing
New Dancing With the Stars judge Julianne Hough responded to concerns that she'll favor brother Derek in the competition, telling Access Hollywood Live, "I'm going to be even harder on him" ABC/KELSEY McNEAL

In fact, having danced with him all summer on their Move Live tour, Hough already knows one of his weaknesses. "I always say he is [good at] the technical, intricate, really detailed stuff — but sometimes you need some show," she sniffed when asked what she would change about his style of choreography. "Sometimes you need a little bit of pizzazz."

The two-time DWTS champ also promised Bush and Hoover that she'd be honest with her critiques throughout the season, hard as they may be for the other pros (many of whom are her friends) to stomach. "Sometimes honesty is not necessarily what you want to hear," she said, "but if somebody's actually being honest, it means that they care."

Hough does indeed care. "I think the thing that I hope the fans know, and of course the dancers know, is that we did grow up together, and every day we do have each other's backs," she shared. "But with my new role, I do want to be able to say what I need to say." She stressed, though, that "it always comes from a loving place. It's never malicious, I never am just being cruel."

Hough knows, of course, that she'll be judged herself, but she's fine with that. "I know that I'm gonna get some fans, and I know I'm gonna get some haters. But haters gonna hate," she said. "Honestly, I'm just excited to be able to be somebody that's been on the other side…My role is very direct and honest, but it's always to see them improve. It's never just to say something rude." 

Season 19 of DWTS premieres Monday, Sept. 15, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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