Dancer, country music singer and actress Julianne Hough, from ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”, walks the red carpet before attending the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California on September 23, 2012. (CNN Photo/Tom Larson)
by Lisa Respers France
(CNN) — Julianne Hough may have taken some heat for her Halloween costume, but those who know her say she didn’t mean any harm.
The actress-dancer-singer darkened her skin as part of her look when she attended a party dressed as one of the African-American stars of the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black.” Hough quickly took to Twitter to apologize once there was backlash.
On Monday night competitors from her former show, “Dancing with the Stars,” stepped up to defend her.
“I know Julianne personally and none of the critique that she is getting at all relates to her as a person, period,” dancer Val Chmerkovskiy told CNN. “Whether it was a smart decision is a different conversation. But the intention, and going deep into the conversation of judging her character, of what she may or may not think behind the scenes — that is absurd.”
“I know her as a person and she is kind and graceful … and she has the right mentality. I just think it was a stupid mistake.”
Her brother, Derek Hough, who also competes on the show, told E! News his sister couldn’t feel sorrier about the incident.
“She’s so apologetic,” he said. “She’s so, so sorry, and I just hope that we can all forgive her and move on,”
Comic and “DWTS” contestant Bill Engvall echoed others’ sentiments and said Hough — who twice won the dancing competition with her celebrity partners Apolo Anton Ohno and Helio Castroneves — doesn’t have “a mean bone in her body.” He said he believes Hough was just out for some fun and got caught in the media glare.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, in this day and age with 24-hour coverage and social media and all that, you got to be careful with what you do. And (Hough) would no more make any kind of racist statements than anybody on the earth,” Engvall said. “And so I would say it was probably just an innocent mistake. … Trust me, I’ve had things taken the way I didn’t want things.”