Julianne Hough (pronounced /ˈhʌf/; born July 20, 1988) is an American professional ballroom dancer, country music singer and actress. She is most widely known for being a two-time winner of ABC's Dancing with the Stars. She earned a Creative Arts Primetime Emmy nomination in 2007 for choreography. ABC's 20/20 called her one of the "very best dancers on the planet." Hough's brother, Derek, is also on Dancing with the Stars and is a three-time winner himself. Hough was signed to Mercury Nashville Records in December 2007. Her self-titled debut album was released May 20, 2008, debuting at #1 on the Billboard Country Album chart and #3 on the Billboard 200. It sold 67,000 copies its first week, and has sold over 320,000 total copies. On October 12, 2008, she released a holiday album, Sounds of the Season: The Julianne Hough Holiday Collection, which as of January 5, 2009, had sold 157,000 copies.
Hough was born in Orem, Utah. She grew up the last of five children in a Latter Day Saint (Mormon) family in Sandy, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City. Her parents are Mari Anne (née Heaton) and Bruce Robert Hough, who was twice chairman of the Utah Republican Party. Her brother, Derek Hough, is also a professional dancer. She also has three older sisters, Sharee, Marabeth, and Katherine. All four of Hough's grandparents were dancers, and her parents met while on a ballroom dancing team in college, in Idaho.
Her formal training began at the Center Stage Performing Arts Studio in Orem, Utah, where she danced with Josh Murillo, among others, in Latin Ballroom; she began dancing competitively at nine. Her parents sent her and brother Derek to London a year later to live and study with their coaches, Corky and Shirley Ballas, and to spare them the strife of divorce. The Ballases helped tutor the two Hough children alongside their own son, Mark, schooling them at the Italia Conti Academy. They received training in song, theatre, gymnastics and many forms of dance, including jazz, ballet, and tap. The three children formed their own pop music trio 2B1G ("2 Boys, 1 Girl") when Hough was twelve, performed at dance competitions in the UK and the U.S., and showcased in a UK television show. At fifteen, Julianne Hough became the youngest dancer, and only American, to win both Junior World Latin Champion and International Latin Youth Champion at the Blackpool Dance Festival. After five years in London, Hough returned to the U.S., first living with her mother for a year and attending Las Vegas Academy. She also spent a year at Park City High, in park city, Utah, then returned to Sandy, Utah to live with her father and graduate from Alta High. She then moved on her own to Los Angeles to begin her career.