In mid-June, it was announced that Universal Television had signed Derek Hough to a first-look deal for both scripted and alternative projects. While the news isn't surprising given Hough's great relationship with NBC, it does signal a strong move by the multi-talented performer.
With a successful solo tour under his belt, a spot at the judges' table on World of Dance and now the first-look deal, Universal Television is signaling that they don't want Hough going anywhere. They want to lock him into their portfolio of stars and producers.
What's important to take a look at here is what Hough has done for the dance industry. He's elevated the art form for his generation of artists by taking his creativity from on-screen to behind the scenes. That doesn't mean he's disappearing from viewers' television screens; it means he's doubling down on his work and ideas for TV.
At 34, this is a monumental step in his career. Other artists, who want to have a multi-layered career like Hough's, should take a look at his blueprint. While no two journeys are the same, there are stepping stones and decisions that he made that helped get him to this level.
1. Taking the leap: It's hard to leave a secure job that has delivered incredible opportunity and success, but Hough made a move from Dancing with the Stars to NBC and Jennifer Lopez's World of Dance. Apart from a few featured dances in Season 2 and 3, Hough is mostly showcasing his skills behind the judges' table.
2. Staying challenged: Hough could have just enjoyed World of Dance and then worked on a few smaller projects, but he went big in the first half of 2019. His first solo tour, complete with live music, sold over 115,000 tickets nationwide. Carrying the weight of a solo tour is a huge responsibility and Hough delivered by continuing to push his artistry forward.
3. Finding the right team: He's found a home in NBC, who believes in his talent. He continually works with NappyTabs and their team, who have their blueprint for success as creative directors, executive producers and choreographers. He aligned himself with like-minded people, who continually elevate his work and challenge him.
While we have no indication yet on what projects he will be pursuing through this deal, music and dance will most likely have a presence at some point. We have seen his success on the alternative/reality competition side, but watching him develop a scripted show could deliver a whole new side to his creativity — and we know he's ready for that challenge.
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