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South Africa-born dancer Oti Mabuse has opened up about the online abuse she received after performing on Strictly Come Dancing.
Mabuse has appeared as a professional on the family-favourite BBC competition since 2015, however, her experience has not been smooth-sailing.
Following soon after other Strictly contestant Tilly Ramsay was targeted over her appearance, the 31-year-old dancer has since spoken out about the 'racially abusive' and 'fat-shaming' messages she has received.
Mabuse was born in South Africa before she moved to Germany to pursue her career as a Latin American and ballroom dancer, The Guardian reports.
She told The Radio Times, '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; if 10 or 100 people aren’t nice to me, that is not representative of everyone else’s views.
'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.'
However, despite the 'hard stuff' Mabuse has gone through, 'with [the] racism and discrimination' acting as 'proof that people still have a lot to learn', the dancer resolved that the 'more hate [she] receive[s] the more of a reason it is to carry on doing [her] job'.
Mabuse concluded, 'I have to show young girls that anything is possible. I have to fight, and be strong.'
Mabuse won Strictly Come Dancing in both 2019 alongside actor Kelvin Fletcher and in 2020 with comedian Bill Bailey.
She is also an eight-time winner of the South African Latin American championship.
Alongside her dancing career, Mabuse has recently taken up a seat on a series of show's judging panels, from The Greatest Dancer to ITV's Dancing on Ice.
She reflected on her success, saying, '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.'
Mabuse's recently launched a new radio show with BBC Radio 4 called Oti Mabuse's Dancing Legends.
The show features episodes such as one that explores 'dancers who changed the world' from Josephine Baker to Michael Flatly. Mabuse noted how her fellow dancer, Strictly judge and sister, Motsi, was her own 'dancing legend'.
The performer also reflected on the most recent series of the show and how it pushed boundaries through dance by featuring its first all-male couple and first deaf contestant.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website.
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