Growing up near Salt Lake City, Hough is the youngest of Marriann and Bruce's five kids who, with their mom tour the state as White Lightning – a blonde version of the Osmonds. "She was just a ball of energy," her brother Derek tells PEOPLE.
Hough's parents divorce when she's 10, and she and Derek move to London to train with the parents of future Dancing with the Stars pro Mark Ballas. He becomes Hough's dance partner and boyfriend. "She was my first love," Ballas says. While attending the renowned theater arts school Italia Conti, the trio forms a pop group called 2B1G (short for two boys, one girl). "We had the corniest songs," Hough later recalls to PEOPLE. "We had a song called 'L-O-V-E Y-O-U,' and we spelled it out with our hands." After five years in London (where she becomes a two-time Latin dance world champion), Hough returns to America.
Less than a year after graduating from high school, Hough joins the fourth season of ABC's hit show, Dancing with the Stars. Paired with Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno, Hough beats former boybander Joey Fatone and boxer Laila Ali for the DWTS title and mirror-ball trophy in May.
For the fifth season of DWTS, Hough is paired with Indy 500 champ Helio Castroneves, who beats Spice Girl Mel B. and Marie Osmond for the title. Their win is paired with headlines of a romance after Castroneves splits from his fianceé a few months after Hough breaks her own engagement to Zach Wilson. "They said I was a homewrecker," Hough tells PEOPLE. "But I'm pretty much the only one on the show who hasn't hooked up." As for her own relationship, she says, "If I had stayed in Utah, that could have worked. But I'm in a different place in my life now."
Although Hough's third season on DWTS is cut short when she is eliminated with partner, comedian Adam Carolla, she still makes headlines on the cover of CosmoGIRL!. Speaking out about her vow to remain a virgin until marriage, the 19-year-old tells the magazine, "I'm not trying to preach consequences here, but I think when you say no, down the line it will be a better decision."
After dropping her country music debut, "That Song in My Head," Hough's self-titled debut album sells more than 67,000 copies in its first week, the best initial showing for a country debut since Kellie Pickler's in 2006. Of her multi-hyphenated career, the newly minted country blonde (pictured with Taylor Swift and Pickler) tells the AP, "I wouldn't take [DWTS] back, even though it might have slowed my singing down a little. I feel that now that I've mastered dancing I can pursue singing."
Hough dishes on her new romance with country crooner Chuck Wicks– who she got to know in the summer whey they joined Brad Paisley on tour. "I just got kind of lucky!" Hough tells PEOPLE. In 2009, after Wicks tells PEOPLE, "We're very much in love," the couple announces that they'll compete together on DWTS in 2009–a Dancing first!
While dancing on Season 7 of DWTS (where she's paired with Cody Linley), Hough is hospitalized and diagnosed with endometriosis. She undergoes a "painful" surgery– that helps her avoid the risk of becoming infertile. "I know more than anything I want to be a mom and have kids," she tells PEOPLE. "That's so important to me."
Hough pairs with boyfriend Chuck Wicks in Season 8 of DWTS. "I might kick him in the butt a little harder than with my other partners!" she confesses to PEOPLE. The couple, who receive tepid reviews from the judges, also begin to talk about marriage. In April, they're eliminated from the show, and by November, the couple calls it quits.
At the Academy of Country Music Awards, Hough nabs her first singing award for Top New Artist. The DWTS pro earns a standing ovation and wipes way tears while accepting the fan-voted honor. "It's a good thing my dress ripped–now I have something else to think about!" she quips.
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Courtesy of Julianne Hough; Courtesy of Julianne Hough; ABC; ABC; Frederick Breedon/WireImage; Frank Micelotta/Getty; ABC; ABC; Jae C. Hong.AP