Oti Mabuse on being the first successful black South African woman in her field

Strictly Come Dancing star Oti Mabuse has said being the first black South African woman to find success in her field has been “an asset”.

The 30-year-old ballroom dancer, who was born in Pretoria, said she had many opinions about racism but that they were “personal”.

However, Mabuse said she was pleased people now felt “empowered” to share how they felt.

Oti Mabuse and Kelvin Fletcher lift the Glitterball trophy
Oti Mabuse and Kelvin Fletcher lift the Glitterball trophy (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

Speaking about the Black Lives Matter movement, she told Red magazine: “Being the first black South African woman to do things in my industry has been an asset.

“I have so many opinions about (racism), but they’re personal.

“I don’t feel I can represent everyone because people have different experiences.

“What’s great is that now we feel empowered to share how we feel.”

Mabuse, who won the 2019 series of the BBC One show with celebrity partner Kelvin Fletcher, recently posted a photo of her natural hair to Instagram.

She said it had taken time for her to feel comfortable enough to post an image.

Mabuse said: “There were so many people saying they’d never seen my real hair, as I had never wanted to show that side of myself before.

“It was really only close friends and the Strictly pros who had seen me like this. It was a thing, you know?

“You need to feel comfortable opening up about what you look like, before you decide whether or not you want to share that with other people.”

The forthcoming series of Strictly will be shorter because of precautions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, while the professionals are quarantining together to pre-record their group numbers.

Mabuse said: “For the first part, all the pros will be quarantining, learning our group numbers and pre-recording them. We’ll have to be flexible to make the show work.”

Read the full interview in the October issue of Red, on sale September 2.

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