US TV star Julianne Hough apologises for 2013 blackface controversy

Hough has been criticised for appearing as a judge on a new reality show about activism.

US TV star Julianne Hough said her decision to wear blackface in 2013 “was a poor choice based on my own white privilege” following criticism for appearing in new reality series The Activist.

Hough, known for shows including Dancing With The Stars and America’s Got Talent, is set to serve as a judge on The Activist, alongside Usher and Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

The reality show, which features six activists competing in digital campaigns and media stunts, received an immediate backlash, with critics arguing the format encouraged performative activism.

Contestants will be assessed on how much social media engagement they receive as well as approval from the celebrity judges.

Responding to criticism of the show, Hough also addressed her 2013 blackface incident, when she dressed up as a character from Netflix drama Orange Is The New Black for Halloween.

“Many people are just becoming aware that I wore blackface in 2013, which only further added insult to injury,” the 33-year-old wrote on Instagram.

“Wearing blackface was a poor choice based on my own white privilege and white body bias that hurt people and is something that I regret doing to this day.”

66th Primetime Emmy Awards – Arrivals – Los Angeles
Julianne Hough has attracted criticism for appearing as a judge on a new reality TV series about activism (PA)

Hough, an actress who played Sandy in a TV adaptation of Grease, said she has committed herself to “reflect and act differently”.

She added: “Not perfectly, but hopefully with a more developed understanding that racism and white supremacy is harmful to ALL people.”

Hough said while she was not qualified to judge activists, she joined The Activist to highlight the work of the contestants.

Hough said she has shared feedback with the “powers that be” and believes they have “listened”.

“I have faith and confidence in the beautiful people that I’ve worked with will make the right choice and do the right thing moving forward,” she wrote.

“Not just for the show, but for the greater good. I’m going to continue to listen, unlearn, learn and take the time to be fully present with everything that you have all shared because I don’t want to just react. I want to digest, understand and respond in a way that is authentic and aligned with the woman I am becoming.”

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