Strictly: Oti Mabuse discusses exit
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Strictly star Oti Mabuse announced her departure from the show earlier this year but has since admitted the transition was so “scary” that she questioned whether she could handle leaving it behind. The 32-year-old, who left her birthplace South Africa aged 16 to pursue a career in dance, was daunted about the prospect of turning away from the hit show that had first given her fame in the UK.
“I’ve been under this incredible umbrella for seven years, where people know on Saturday night you bring them joy, and you make them smile,” she mused.
“When a lot of things in your business are based off that [feeling], it was really, really scary [to leave].
“I was asking myself, ‘Am I ready? Am I fit enough to do this? Can I handle it?'” the ballroom star agonised.
However she concluded in a new interview with Women’s Health UK magazine that she has always been up for a “challenge”.
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However, Oti had previously explained that she’d been keen to leave the show while it was still at its “peak”.
She’d also confided in Women’s Health UK that she had insecurities about her changing metabolism, admitting that it had become increasingly difficult for her to “burn [fat] as fast as [I] used to”.
“Oh my gosh, what is this? Is this turning 30?!” she exclaimed, before adding: “My body has completely taken on a new shape [since] two, three years ago.”
Meanwhile, having already hit the main target that she arrived in the UK to achieve – winning Strictly – she decided it was time for new projects.
That meant leaving the show behind, despite her sister Motsi still returning as a judge without her, and trying her hand at a Dancing On Ice judging role instead.
Oti has appeared on Celebrity Gogglebox and The Masked Dancer too, while her husband Marius Iepure, also a globetrotting dancer, is also laser focused on his career.
She hasn’t left Strictly behind entirely, admitting that she’ll “definitely” be watching along with the action this year, as things heat up for crowd favourites such as Kym Marsh, Hamza Yassin and Will Mellor.
Oti has also revealed that she’ll be choreographing a number for the show, and relishes the chance to freelance “behind the scenes”.
She now says that her top goal in life is to maintain a “fearless” approach to her career.
It’s also important for Oti to set an example to other black women about what it is possible to achieve, having herself grown up against a backdrop of racism.
She recently took part in a BBC documentary about her past, titled Oti Mabuse: My South Africa, which saw her return to her childhood home as well as visit an all-white area which she’d felt obliged to avoid when she was younger.
Though she has happy memories of road trips taken as a child, she’s far less familiar with some areas than others.
“On our Dad’s travels, we often didn’t even get out of the car in this part of the country,” she observed during the documentary.
“I’m going to places that we intentionally didn’t go [when I was younger], because they were just places where black people were not welcome.
“I don’t think my parents wanted us to be subjected to looks, to people calling us names, and I think my dad really just wanted to protect us.”
She now aspires to show young women what they are capable of achieving in spite of adversity when they “set their mind” to their careers.
The full Oti Mabuse interview can be read in the December issue of Women’s Health UK, on sale now.
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