Strictly star Oti Mabuse speaks out over racist abuse and fat-shaming

Oti Mabuse has spoken out about the “racially abusive” and “fat-shaming” comments she received after performing on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Mabuse, who has appeared as a professional on the show since 2015, said she used the abuse as fuel to carry on and show young girls that “anything is possible”.

“I’ve never really spoken about it because I’ve tried for so long to think about it this way: I work on a show that 10 million people love; 如果 10 或者 100 people aren’t nice to me, that is not representative of everyone else’s views,” she said in the Radio Times.

“To get tweeted or receive a message in my inbox being racially abusive, or fat-shaming me, is horrible. But it’s written by a person who can’t even face themselves in the mirror.

“The hard stuff that I’ve been through, with the racism and discrimination, is proof that people still have a lot to learn. The more hate I receive the more of a reason it is to carry on doing my job. I have to show young girls that anything is possible. I have to fight, and be strong.”

Born in South Africa, Mabuse, 31, studied civil engineering before moving to Germany to dance. The Latin American and ballroom dancer, who won the South African Latin American championship eight times, was crowned Strictly winner both in 2019 with actor Kelvin Fletcher and in 2020 with comedian Bill Bailey.

过去一年, Mabuse has taken a seat on the judging panels of BBC One’s The Greatest Dancer, ITV’s The Masked Singer and most recently, ITV’s Dancing on Ice – leading to speculation that she may not return to the Strictly ballroom.

She said that growing up and moving from South Africa has remained difficult, 然而. “When you do something good, it’s not good enough because you’re black. Some people say you’re on a show because the channel needs to tick a box. Which means you’re not worthy of being there. But I think that just shows where people who make those comments are in their own lives. Being black makes me special.”

Her new BBC radio show, Oti Mabuse’s Dancing Legends, explores the extraordinary people who have changed the course of dance, including Fred Astaire and Raven Wilkinson. Mabuse said her sister Motsi, also a dancer and Strictly judge, was her own “dancing legend”. 演出, 她补充说, was partly inspired by Bill Bailey, who taught her to “go back in time and find the root of the purpose of what you’re doing”.

She also emphasised the power of dance to push boundaries, pointing to last year’s Strictly competitors, Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice, and John Whaite and Johannes Radebe as proof of that point (Ayling-Ellis was the first deaf contestant on the show, and Whaite and Radebe the first all-male couple).