Julianne Hough Responds To The Activist Backlash: I Am Not Qualified To Act As A Judge

Julianne Hough is responding to criticism over The Activist, her upcoming competition show on CBS that will pit six activists against one another in a social media contest, writing on Instagram that she will “continue to listen” in her attempts to “digest, understand and respond in a way that is authentic and aligned with the woman I am becoming.”

The five-page Instagram post is more an acknowledgement of the complaints than a direct response to the various charges made on social media against the show, but Hough, who will be a judge on the series along with  Priyanka Chopra and Usher, does concede that she is not qualified to judge activists.

Read the full Instagram post below.

Writes Hough, “there is a feeling of insult, dehumanization, insensitivity and hurt that is being rightfully felt. I do not claim to be an activist and wholeheartedly agree that the judging aspect of the show missed the mark and furthermore, that I am not qualified to act as a judge.”

Hough, a former judge and performer on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, also addresses the controversy over her 2013 appearance at a costume party dressed in blackface as Uzo Aduba’s “Crazy Eyes” character from Orange Is The New Black. She calls wearing blackface “a poor choice based on my own white privilege and my own white body bias that hurt people and is something I regret doing to this day.” She adds that she commits to “reflect and act differently. Not perfectly, but hopefully with a more developed understanding that racism and white supremacy is harmful to ALL people.”

In the post, Hough explains that she agreed to serve as judge on the show “because I was really excited to be a part of something that highlights, and is centered around sharing activists’ work on a larger platform. In doing so, I felt it would help educate, mobilize, and inspire people around the world to get involved in activism because many worthy causes need attention, funding, and most importantly the power to effect real change.”

The five-week reality series premieres Friday, Oct. 22, on CBS and will be available to stream live and on-demand on Paramount+.

Last week, after a barrage of social media blowback that greeted the network’s announcement about the show’s launch, producer Global Citizen said in a statement to Deadline, “The Activist spotlights individuals who’ve made it their life’s work to change the world for the better, as well as the incredible and often challenging work they do on the ground in their communities. This is not a reality show to trivialize activism. On the contrary, our aim is to support activists everywhere, show the ingenuity and dedication they put into their work, and amplify their causes to an even wider audience.”

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