Julianne Hough is trading in her dancing shoes for a judging paddle.
The 26-year-old pro will become a regular fourth judge when Dancing with the Stars returns for its 19th season next month, joining Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli on the dais.
“My role is to encourage and be supportive, and to also be candid and honest and try not to beat around the bush, to be too politically correct,” Hough tells PEOPLE. “I want to give critiques so they can improve. I’m not there to be harsh or cause a controversy. I won’t be mean or malicious. That’s not who I am. That’s not my role at all.”
Hough, a two-time pro champ on the show, has served as a guest judge in previous seasons, but she felt the time was right to make it a more permanent gig this fall.
“After being on tour with my brother [Derek], it felt like time to move on,” Hough told PEOPLE. “I felt like I really reconnected with fans, and the people have supported me since day one. They have followed me from Dancing with the Stars to my other aspirations. It just feels like the perfect time to reconnect and be a part of where it all began, with my family.”
And what of the challenge of critiquing an actual family member? Hough says she’s not worried about judging her brother, who is set to return to the ballroom along with long-timers Cheryl Burke, Mark Ballas, Karina Smirnoff and Tony Dovolani.
“Derek has been known to be very good with his partnerships,” Hough says, laughing. “But it’s not about my brother, nor is it about Cheryl or Mark. It’s about the partnership and the celebrity who is dancing.”
ABC will announce the 12 new celebrity dancers Sept. 4 on Good Morning America. Dancing with the Stars returns Monday, Sept. 15, at 8 p.m. ET.
Sign up for our newsletter and other special offers: