One of the biggest shakeups of the upcoming season is that the dancing competition will now be cohosted by Derek’s sister, Julianne Hough, who is replacing Tyra Banks to helm the show alongside Alfonso Ribeiro. The iconic model, 49, announced her exit from the ballroom in March after three years of emceeing the series.
“I wouldn’t say that it was surprising,” Derek exclusively tells Us Weekly about Banks’ departure while promoting his partnership with Excedrin. “She’s got a lot on her plate and a lot of things happening in her future. She’s one person that will always work and will always be an entrepreneur and always create opportunities. And she’s a powerhouse.”
The six-time mirrorball trophy winner can’t say enough good things about the former America’s Next Top Model host, who told TMZ in March that she is “crazy, crazy focused on business” in the wake of her exit.
“Tyra was just unbelievably gracious — like really, truly, gracious, and I just have to give her absolute props,” Derek tells Us about how Banks handed the cohost reins to Julianne, 36, who has won two mirrorball trophies of her own and has served as a judge for multiple seasons. “She just sent Julianne the most beautiful message, and I’m just really grateful to her for her grace.”
As for his own reaction to his sister’s new role, Derek says that there is “no … question about it”: Julianne is the “right choice.”
“She’s a great host,” the Nashville alum — who has served as a judge on DWTS since season 29 — tells Us. “You know, we hosted Disney specials together and she’s fantastic. She also happens to be an amazing dancer and singer and everything else, but … she was part of the show and she knows the show and she’s part of the [DWTS] family.”
The Safe Haven star and Ribeiro, 51, are the perfect pair to cohost the Disney+ series, Derek adds. “I think that their chemistry, their knowledge, their familiarity, and also just the family aspect of the show … you’re gonna really feel that. So it’s great.”
Banks, for her part, exclusively revealed to Us in March exactly why she thought Julianne was her perfect replacement.
“The businesswoman in me sees how Julianne is great on multiple levels. She’s a professional dancer. She is the sister of Derek, a DWTS multi-champion, who is now a stellar judge,” the Life-Size actress shared. “It’s going to be a family affair in that ballroom which people will love to watch. And she has so much personality and strong opinions backed by expertise. She’s a perfect choice! She’s gonna crush it!”
As Derek focuses on what’s to come on season 32 of DWTS, he’s also passionate about partnering with Excedrin for Head Care, the company’s new, drug-free line of products that helps soothe headaches.
“It’s a holistic approach, not just sort of waiting for the migraine or waiting for the headache, but it’s the spaces in between and what we can do to be proactive to help our overall health,” Derek tells Us of Head Care, adding that he and fiancée Hayley Erbert “created these movement routines” for the partnership, including an aerobic exercise and a “restorative yoga routine” that focuses on stretching and breathing.
When it comes to working with his bride-to-be, Derek says it’s “wonderful.”
“We’re trying to serve people and to try to help others and take care of us,” he explains.
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With reporting by Christina Garibaldi