He’s the guy most women would say “that’s the partner I want if I were a contestant on “Dancing with The Stars.” Blonde good guy with a ton of talent and even more patience, Derek Hough has won five “mirror ball” trophies on ABC’s popular dance competition reality show. But now the 29-year-old Emmy winning choreographer, dancer, singer and actor has a new accomplishment to add to the list, author. Taking the Lead: Lessons From a Life in Motion,” is his first book, one that is half autobiography and half self-help book, focusing on how trying, facing uncertainty, being fearless and seeing opportunity rather than defeat can change a life. Hough will be meeting fans and signing copies of the book at RJ Julia in Madison on Thursday, Aug. 7 and at Mohegan Sun on Friday, Aug. 8. Known for his creativity, his exuberance and his seemingly non-stop motion, he was heading to Connecticut and sitting still when he Spilled the Beans with Java.
Q: After reading the book, you are either the greatest guy who has ever lived or someone who can give everything, even your shortcomings, a positive spin. Which is it?
A: The second one, I hope. So the thing is I just came off tour and hadn’t really stopped in seven months, and when I came off it, I had post-tour blues. I had this massive energy shift so I was in this weird place and read my book to bring me back. It was almost like I wrote it for the place I was in. My book has lessons that are meant to learned and relearned, and I know I will keep going back to that what I wrote when I get down. I am far from perfect and that is all in the book. But the point is I wrote something that was more than a commercial venture. It is what I learned and they are lessons others can tap into.
Q: I know you are friends with Tony Robbins and wondered if you see yourself following his path by becoming a motivational speaker and all that goes with that profession?
A: I could possibly see it as a career path. I never really consciously thought about being a motivator or self-help adviser. It just kind of happened. I kept journals for years and every time something happened and I learned from it I would write it down. As I began touring with DWTS I would meet people and the questions would come and I would talk with people and it all connected somehow. I reflected on my ups and downs and then was approached about doing a book and I realized I had already written it.
Q: But you do have another career path these days, a show on HGTV? I don’t remember you talking about your constructions kills in the book!
A: I know. I am no good with a hammer and neither is Mark Ballas. The name of the show is “Mark & Derek’s Excellent Flip.” Mark and I had bought a house and decided to flip it and HGTV heard about it and asked if we would do a show and we thought, ‘sure why not?’ It was all pretty funny to us because neither of us have any real skills. But I love the smell of wood, I love watching something being built and as a kid, I couldn’t stay away from construction sites. It’s a four episode series and we just finished filming the first one and people were actually pretty impressed at what we did know. And really, redoing a house is so much like DWTS. You take something that’s not very good but is full of potential and you say ‘let’s do it’ and you make it better.
Q: So this all begs the question, will you be on DWTS next season?
A: I don’t know yet. We are still figuring it out.
Q: If they offered you any partner to get you to commit, who would be the gal to seal the deal?
A: Megan Fox
Q: Are you seeing anyone?
A: No. I am available.
Q: Would she have to know how to dance?
A: I won’t lie. I think there is something attractive about a girl that can dance. I veered away from it in past relationships but I think it is something I would want.
Q: You talk at length about being bullied as a child. Do you ever want to call those guys and say ‘look at me now?’
A: I don’t. When I reflect on those times I have such empathy and sympathy for people who have to be mean like that or hurt somebody to feel worth something. Those kind of people, clearly there is something going on inside of them. I just moved on and never dwelled on it. I just learned from it.
Q: If you could dance with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
A: Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. I would love to do a trio with them and then pick their brains about how they did what they did.
Q: Do you have any goals before you hit that “30 years old” benchmark?
A: Spend more time outside. As a hobby I love being outside and love doing things that give me a rush like jumping off cliffs. My plan is to definitely do more.