Derek Hough Discusses ‘DWTS’ Legacy & What It's Really Like to Be a Judge

With three Emmy wins, 11 Emmy nominations and a record-breaking six victories on ABC's Dancing with the Stars, it’s safe to say that Derek Hough has reached legend status.

The seasoned dancer and choreographer, who’s currently working with Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase, now serves as a judge on the dance competition series, which has been going strong for more than three decades. And now, Hough is not only reflecting on the show’s legacy, but also, how his dancing experience has affected his judging technique.

While chatting with PureWow, he said, “It's a show that keeps on giving, it truly is. I think that it always seems to deliver. It's a reliable show where you know you're gonna feel something. You're gonna be entertained, you're gonna be disappointed, you're gonna be inspired and be motivated. You're gonna be laughing. I mean, there's so many different things that it always delivers. And part of that is the dancers. It's the cast. There are certain elements and moving parts of the show that just make it lightning in a bottle. It's a once in a lifetime show. It doesn't come around often.”

Hough also talked about how the show continues to maintain its appeal. He continued, “To say that we've done 31 seasons is extraordinary. And now, moving into this new age, this new relaunch of this cherished show, it's such a beautiful thing. And I'm thrilled to be part of it, and to have been a part of it for so long. And to still feel the freshness and the excitement that surrounds it, I feel very, very fortunate and blessed to be a part of something so wonderful like Dancing with Stars.”

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ABC/Christopher Willard

Loyal fans of the show may have noticed that Hough has mastered the art of giving helpful feedback with a positive spin. And this has a lot to do with his own experiences on the dance floor.  

While discussing his role as a judge, he told us, “I try to be very compassionate towards the celebrities, because I understand how difficult it is and I admire them for even being out there. I mean, it's crazy to put yourself in this position [where] you're so vulnerable, trying something that you're not really used to doing in these costumes and shoes and, you know, it's live you only get one chance at it. It's daunting. It's terrifying. So my hat always goes off to them, no matter what.” 

“However, I really want them to improve,” he added. “I want them to do better and to grow. And so whatever I can do in a very short amount of time, to [give] them just one thing that they can work on for the next week, I try to implement that. Because sometimes it's that one thing that makes all the difference. And at least for being a teacher myself, and a coach, it's those minor adjustments that can make huge impacts. So I try to sneak those in as much as I can.”

Keep up the amazing work, Derek.

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nakeisha campbell bio

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...