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One of her earliest professional experiences was as an assistant choreographer on Gwen Stefani's "Wind It Up" music video. She was featured in two television commercials and was an extra in an episode of Cold Case. She was one of the "Million Dollar Dancers" in the short-lived network television game show Show Me the Money.
On October 12, 2008, she released a holiday album, Sounds of the Season: The Julianne Hough Holiday Collection, which as of January 5, 2009, had sold 157,000 copies.
Hough appeared in the 2010 musical Burlesque, starring Cher and Christina Aguilera. She played a dancer named Georgia.
It was announced in March 2011 that she will be playing the role of Sherrie Christian in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Rock of Ages, alongsidge Tom Cruise and Mary J. Blige. The film is due for release in 2012. Hough will also star as Ariel in the 2011 remake of the Paramount film Footloose. Filming began in September, 2010.