'Strictly Come Dancing' star Rose Ayling-Ellis: I want to show deaf people do enjoy music

Rose Ayling-Ellis is the first profoundly deaf contestant to take part in 'Strictly Come Dancing'. (BBC)
Rose Ayling-Ellis is the first profoundly deaf contestant to take part in Strictly Come Dancing. (BBC)

EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis has said that she hopes by competing in Strictly Come Dancing she can change perceptions of what deaf people can't do.

The 26-year-old actor - known for playing Frankie Lewis in the BBC soap - uses hearing aids and sign language to communicate and will be the first profoundly deaf contestant on the celebrity dancing show.

Ayling-Ellis told Yahoo UK: "I feel like I've got a purpose - because I am deaf and to be the first deaf person on Strictly, I feel like it will be a good chance to break the stereotypes of what deaf people can and can't do.

Read more: 'Strictly's Tom Fletcher says his kids cringe when he dances with wife Giovanna

"A lot of people think that [deaf] people can't hear the music, and enjoy the music and enjoy dancing. And I thought it would be a good platform for me to break that stereotype."

The actor explained to BBC News: "I have a hearing aid, so I pick up some of the music and I can hear the beat. I can hear someone singing, but I can't identify exact words. I also feel the vibrations."

The soap star said she enjoys listening to old music, including Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton and Dusty Springfield.

She admitted she is hoping for a "caring" dance partner and explained she will be "counting inside my head" in order to keep time to the music.

Rose Ayling-Ellis plays Frankie Lewis in 'EastEnders'. (BBC)
Rose Ayling-Ellis plays Frankie Lewis in EastEnders. (BBC)

She said: "I'm looking for someone who can communicate well and is not scared to look at me in the face. And really push me to improve myself. And be really caring."

Ayling-Ellis said the deaf community had been hugely supportive of her since it had been announced she would be taking part in Strictly.

But she admitted she was really interested to learn the reaction from the hearing audience.

Ayling-Ellis explained: "The deaf community are very excited and very positive. But it will be interesting to see the reaction from a hearing audience.

"I just hope a lot of good will come out of it that will improve the deaf people's experience. And people's attitudes will change and the industry will become more inclusive."

Rose Ayling-Ellis at the NTAs where she was nominated for best newcomer. (Getty Images)
Rose Ayling-Ellis at the NTAs where she was nominated for best newcomer. (Getty Images)

Also taking part this year are McFly's Tom Fletcher BBC Breakfast star Dan Walker, Gordon Ramsay's daughter Tilly Ramsay, Olympic swimmer Adam Peaty, EastEnders star Nina Wadia and former Bake Off winner John Whaite.

Comedian Robert Webb, actor Greg Wise and Coronation Street star Katie McGlynn are also among the stars taking to the dancefloor in the hope of winning the coveted glitterball trophy.

Read more: Gordon Ramsay's daughter Tilly says he will be harshest critic of her 'Strictly' dancing

Judges Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas will be back, but Anton Du Beke will be filling in for Bruno Tonioli.

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 contestants Greg Wise, Katie McGlynn, Dan Walker, AJ Odudu, Rhys Stephenson, Tilly Ramsay, Tom Fletcher, Judi Love, Adam Peaty, Rose Ayling-Ellis, Robert Webb, John Waite, Nina Wadia, Ugo Monye, Sara Davies. (BBC)
Strictly Come Dancing 2021 contestants Greg Wise, Katie McGlynn, Dan Walker, AJ Odudu, Rhys Stephenson, Tilly Ramsay, Tom Fletcher, Judi Love, Adam Peaty, Rose Ayling-Ellis, Robert Webb, John Waite, Nina Wadia, Ugo Monye, Sara Davies. (BBC)

Tonioli is unable to take part because of the complications of travelling between the UK and the US, where he judges Dancing With The Stars, amid the COVID pandemic.

Watch: Who is Rose Ayling-Ellis?