Leaving home at 10 years old to live and train as a dancer in London was one of the hardest things that Julianne Hough ever did.
But that sacrifice is paying off this year for the former Las Vegan as she waltzes her way into the hearts of people everywhere as one of the professional dancers on ABC's hit series "Dancing With the Stars."
Hough, 18, is the partner of Olympic gold medalist Apolo Anton Ohno. The youngest couple on the show, they have endeared themselves to millions with their girl and boy next door appeal and their chemistry.
And with an important dance coming up today (8 p.m. on KTNV-TV, Channel 13), Hough is hoping Las Vegas viewers get behind one of their own and vote for them.
"That's what we're hoping for, to (win)," she said during a phone interview as she waited for Ohno to arrive at the Los Angeles dance studio. "We're both really strong competitors, we just have to get the votes of people."
Since moving to Los Angeles in September, Hough has had a streak of good luck. At first, she struggled to pay rent with small jobs before being invited to do the "Dancing With the Stars" tour. She got her break when one of the main dancers was injured. Producers were so impressed, they invited her to be on the show this season.
"It kind of came as a surprise but this has been my dream since I was 5 years old," she said. "I'm very goal-driven, ambitious and I don't like to fail. I'm willing to sacrifice a lot to pursue my dreams."
She hopes to parlay her success into a singing career, which is her true calling, she said. During her free time, Hough is in the studio recording demos.
Those reading her ABC bio would know only that Hough was from Utah, as there is no mention of her Las Vegas connection. Her mother and stepfather, Marriann and Aaron Nelson, have lived here since 1998.
Hough attended Kirk Adams Elementary School for six months before moving to London to study dance. She moved back to Las Vegas at 14, said her mother, Marriann Nelson, and attended the Las Vegas Academy for a year. She finished up high school in Utah, where her father lives.
Hough says she doesn't know why there's no mention of Las Vegas in her bio but she wants locals to know that she loves the town and has fond memories of her time here.
"People have the wrong impression of Las Vegas," she said. "It's a beautiful place and has really nice people."