Julianne Hough, who participated on Dancing with the Stars for five seasons, is by far one of the most popular professional dancers in the show’s history.
She initially appeared on the show as a pro in Season 4 with her partner Apolo Anton Ohno. She won that season and the next with Hélio Castroneves. Hough announced her departure from the show in 2008 to pursue her music career. The break did not last long. She returned to the competition and began dating Chuck Wicks, her Season 8 companion.
In 2019, she switched from ABC to NBC for AGT. During that season’s Judge Cuts, Simon Cowell and Hough got into an argument. During Hough’s criticism of an all-female act, Cowell made his characteristic “meow” sounds.
She decided to speak up about it, and he promised never to make that sound again while she was speaking.
But why did Hough leave ‘America’s Got Talent’?
Hough and new judge Gabrielle Union exited AGT after only one season. Union came forward with claims of a toxic work environment behind the scenes. She called Hough out in her lawsuit filed against NBC. Union went on to say that as someone who advocates on behalf of minorities, it was a slap in the face for NBC to hire Hough who openly wore blackface in the past.
Hough wore blackface on Halloween in 2013 dressed as a character from Orange Is the New Black. It sparked controversy at the time and she put out an initial apology in 2013. In 2015, she spoke out about it again when the pictures resurfaced. Union’s lawsuit called attention to the photos of once again in 2020 and 2021.
Hough initially denied experiencing a toxic work environment on AGT and was looking to continue her working relationship with NBC. In an appearance on The Today Show, she commended Union for speaking out about the treatment she faced. We’ll never know what really happened behind the scenes of AGT Season 14 but NBC decided not to pick up Hough’s contract for another season.