A version of this story appears in the upcoming issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.
In EW’s column Act With Me, stars share their personal stories about giving back. This week, World of Dance star Derek Hough speaks about the Movember Foundation, which provides support, resources, and research for a wide range of men’s health issues from testicular and prostate cancers to suicide prevention.
WHY I TOOK ACTION
When the Dancing With the Stars alum was young, his uncle took his own life. “I saw firsthand what it did to family, friends, and people around them,” he says. “It got me so curious about psychology and how someone could get to that point where they feel like this is the only option.” Five years ago Hough wrote a song called “Hold On” for a friend going through a hard time, and he decided to release the track this year after the suicide of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, of whom he was a fan. The song was playing in Hough’s car when he received news of Bennington’s death. “Being an artist, I have different palettes and different paintbrushes, if you will, and whether it be choreographing or writing a book or writing a song or writing lyrics and singing melodies, for me it’s about telling a story and evoking emotion,” Hough says.
WHAT THE FOUNDATION DOES
Hough was aware of Movember’s mustache fundraising campaign, which takes place every November, and the foundation’s work on behalf of men’s cancer. He was thrilled to discover their mental health efforts when he was searching for an organization to partner with on the release of his single. “One of Movember’s primary missions is to make sure male suicide prevent becomes a global priority and their hope is to bring it down by 25 percent by 2030,” he says. That goal is what prompted him to select Movember as the partner for his new single, which you can listen to below.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
“500,000 men a year take their own lives; three out of four suicides are men,” he says. “[Men are] carrying this burden, carrying this weight, carrying this sort of shame of the depression and thoughts and feeling the traditional masculine mindset where they can’t talk about their emotions.” Hough hopes to reduce the stigma around conversations about mental health: “I just want to encourage men out there to talk,” he says. “It’s not something we should shy away from.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Download and listen to Hough’s single “Hold On” or watch the official music video above. Visit the Movember Foundation website to learn more, donate, and participate in its various initiatives.