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Julianne Hough apologizes for blackface costume after ‘Activist’ backlash

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Julianne Hough is trying to dance her way out of this mess.

The former “Dancing With the Stars” pro took to social media to express her regret for a 2013 Halloween costume where she used blackface amid criticism for her new CBS show, “The Activist.”

The 33-year-old is set to be a co-host on the competition series, alongside Usher and Priyanka Chopra, all of whom will judge activists competing to promote their various causes.

In a very lengthy Instagram post she shared on Tuesday, the “Footloose” actress apologized for the show, as well as for the time she dressed up as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren, played by Uzo Aduba, from “Orange Is the New Black.”

Uzo Aduba played the character in "Orange Is the New Black."
Uzo Aduba played the character in “Orange Is the New Black.”
©Netflix/Courtesy Everett

“The last few days have been a powerful demonstration of real-time activism,” Hough began. “Thank you for using your voices, calling me in, your accountability, and your candor. I am deeply listening with an open heart and mind.”

Hough summarized people’s critiques of the show: The concept valued “performative” work, “promoted pseudo-activism over real activism” and “felt tone-deaf.” Also, “the hosts weren’t qualified to assess activism because we are celebrities and not activists.”

She continued, “And because of this, 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 then pointed out that “many people are just becoming aware” of her 2013 blackface scandal, “which only further added insult to injury.”

Julianne Hough's 2013 costume.
Julianne Hough’s 2013 costume
Devone Byrd, PacificCoastNews

“Wearing blackface was 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 wrote. “However, the regret that I live with pales in comparison to the lived experiences of so many. My commitment has been to reflect and act differently. Not perfectly, but hopefully with a more developed understanding that racism and white supremacy is harmful to ALL people.”

The actress stated, “I am still listening because this is a messy and uncomfortable conversation, and I’m committed to being here for all of it.”

“It feels important for me to share that the original reason I signed on to this show was because I was really excited to be a part of something that highlights, and is centered around sharing activists’ work on a larger platform,” she added. “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 Activist” premieres Oct. 22 and will air over the course of five weeks.





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