Celebrity dancer Derek Hough isn’t one to sit on a beach in between tours and time in the studio. Instead, the energetic two-time Emmy winner would rather be canoodling with sharks or jumping out of an airplane.
Hough just wrapped an explosive nationwide tour and took time to chat with Showbiz Cheat Sheet about his next adventure. While some celebrities may prefer to indulge in a luxury vacation, Hough would rather hop into a steel cage and get face-to-face with a great white shark.
He had planned to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro with his father, but instead, his sister, Julianne and other family members got to go in his place. But don’t feel sorry for Hough. He’s revved up for an extreme adventure of a lifetime.
He’s ready to meet Jaws
In between wakeboarding and skydiving, Hough is going to squeeze in a trip to the Galápagos Islands. “I’m going diving with great white sharks in the Galápagos Islands in about three weeks,” he revealed. “I’m always doing something.”
How does someone get prepared to dive with a legendary predator? “Just breathe,” Hough advises laughing. “And make sure that those cages are strong.”
While a shark dive may sound terrifying to most people, Hough is looking forward to taking selfies with Jaws. Plus this isn’t his first time at the shark diving rodeo. “I’ve actually dove with sharks before,” he says. “I’ve scuba dived with bigger sharks.” In fact, Hough says, “I’ve actually free-dived with tiger sharks.” Last year he was in the water hanging out with humpback whales.
Facing his fear
For someone to run head-on into such a bold encounter, fear is probably not even a consideration. But Hough admits, “I used to be afraid of the ocean. But the best way to get over your fear is to learn about it.”
Plus, he did a significant amount of research. “I spent a whole year in the water and it was amazing,” he recalled. “I felt right at home.”
He added, “I think a lot of fear is based in the unknown and the uncertainty of something. I think once you learn about something and understand it, that fear dissipates. But also, having a little bit of fear is a great feeling because when you are able to overcome that or do something in spite of fear, its a really amazing feeling to have.”
This is another amazing feeling
Beyond extreme sports, Hough spends plenty of time helping others. He recently partnered with Lays and their “Smiles” campaign. The initiative will donate up to $1 million to international medical charity Operation Smile. “It shines a light on the good that people are doing,” he shared. “And how can we do better and how can we do good?”
Hough was thrilled to be part of this positive program. Lays constructed a Smiles Station in Times Square where anyone can pop in, take a photo, and get a free bag of chips.
Hough made a surprise guest appearance at the Times Square Smile Station and received a fun reaction. “The smile bags, when you put them over your face, it’s hard not to smile because it looks so funny and so fun,” he says. “I showed a little boy how to do it, and he was laughing.”
He was at the Smile Station around 6:30 a.m. before the crowds, but people certainly reacted when they saw Hough interacting and having fun with fans. “At NBC, Rockefeller Center I just started dancing with some tourists,” he says. “I always find one of the fastest ways to cheer someone up is to start dancing with them.”