After serving as a company dancer-choreographer, Hough left the show in 2009 to focus on acting and music. “My role is to encourage and be supportive, and to also be candid and honest and try not to beat around the bush, to be too politically correct," Hough said of her duties as a judge in an interview with People. "I want to give critiques so they can improve. I'm not there to be harsh or cause a controversy. I won't be mean or malicious. That's not who I am. That's not my role at all.”
Of the fact that she’ll be judging her brother Derek, who serves as the professional dancer half of a competing pair, she said, “Derek has been known to be very good with his partnerships. But it's not about my brother, nor is it about [fellow professional dancers] Cheryl [Burke] or Mark [Ballas]. It's about the partnership and the celebrity who is dancing.”
“Stars” debuted in 2005 and has well-known people team up with professional dancers. Hough had won the competition previously with Olympic athlete Apolo Anton Ohno and with Helio Castroneves, a race car driver. She had also paired with comedian Adam Carolla, Cody Linley of the TV series “Hannah Montana,” and country singer Chuck Wicks.
After Hough departed “Dancing,” she starred in such movies as the 2011 remake of the film "Footloose," the 2012 film “Rock of Ages,” which was based on the Broadway musical of the same name, and the 2013 movie “Safe Haven.”