Entertainment TV Julianne Hough on the Perks of Leaving 'Dancing with the Stars' ' Judging Panel: 'I Can Actually Have Favorites' The former Mirrorball winner did not return as a judge for season 22 of the reality dance competition By Patrick Gomez Patrick Gomez Patrick Gomez is the Editor in Chief/General Manager of Entertainment Weekly. Formerly at People magazine and The A.V. Club, the Critics Choice and Television Critics Association member has appeared on 'Today,' 'Extra!,' 'Access Hollywood,' 'E! News,' 'CNN,' and 'Nightline,' and can be seen frequently on 'Good Morning America.' Follow the Texas Native at @PatrickGomezLA wherever your media is social for all things 'For All Mankind' 'Top Chef,' and puppy related. People Editorial Guidelines Published on March 28, 2016 11:10 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Jeff Lipsky/CPi Syndication brightcove.createExperiences(); When Dancing with the Stars returned for season 22, the judges’ panel was missing a familiar face: Julianne Hough. “I will miss being on the panel … but have a lot of exciting stuff coming that I look forward to sharing,” the former DWTS champion, 27, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “The pro dancers, producers and crew at DWTS will always be my family.” But Hough says there is at least one benefit to not sitting next to Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman on the panel. “It’s nice now because I can actually have favorites. I watched the premiere, and I was super-rooting for [Boyz II Men’s Wanya Morris] because he did Grease: Live with us,” says the dancer, who has collaborated on an activewear collection with MPG Sport. Hough has promised that fans have not seen the last of her in the DWTS ballroom, but she reiterates that she’s excited to be focusing on other ventures. “I’m really excited because I’m focusing on some other things,” says Hough, who is engaged to hockey star Brooks Laich. “I’m at that point in my career where I need to focus on my personal career and make sure I’m doing what I’m doing.” Season 22 of Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.