Strictly Come Dancing Star AJ Odudu Admits She Was Previously Rejected By The Show

Despite being one of last year's frontrunners, AJ's journey to the Strictly dance floor was not exactly a smooth one.
AJ Odudu at a Bafta event earlier this year
AJ Odudu at a Bafta event earlier this year
David Parry via PA Wire/PA Images

Strictly Come Dancing star AJ Odudu has revealed she was previously turned down by the show a year before signing up for her series.

AJ was one of the first celebs to be announced for Strictly in 2021, and was a frontrunner throughout the show thanks to her impressive moves.

However, the Big Breakfast host has admitted that her journey to the Strictly dance floor wasn’t exactly a smooth one.

“I asked them in 2020 if I could do it and they said no,” she told The Sun.

“There are always those people that get asked every year and say: ‘I just haven’t found the time.’ That was not me – I had not been asked every year!”

AJ went on to say that she believes she manifested her involvement in last year’s run.

AJ posing with her Strictly partner Kai Widdrington
AJ posing with her Strictly partner Kai Widdrington
Ray Burmiston/BBC via PA Media

“I really do manifest hard,” she explained. “I spoke it into existence to the point that it actually happened.

“At the beginning of 2021, I sat down with my agent and said: ‘I want to do Strictly Come Dancing. I have to do it.’ And I could see myself doing it.”

Throughout the series, AJ received high scores from the judges and praise from viewers, making it all the way to the final alongside Rose Ayling-Ellis and John Whaite.

Unfortunately, she was forced to pull out at the eleventh hour due to an injury.

Admitting she felt “really angry at my ankle” at first, AJ told The Sun she coped by trying to focus on the positives.

“I was disappointed. And then I did a U-turn and thought: ‘You did what you needed to do. You got me as far as I needed to get’,” she said.

“I was literally living the dream. Strictly was an overwhelmingly positive experience. It was the first time that I was introduced to a whole new audience of people who were accepting me for me — flaws and all. That felt really special.

“Ultimately, I was part of Strictly in the most inclusive year that has ever been. I feel really honoured to get to know Rose and John and the whole cast. I feel like I’ve got a wider family now. And I feel really lucky, even though it didn’t end the way that I wanted it to, that I was able to learn to dance and be myself.”

Kai and AJ performing one of their show-stopping routines
Kai and AJ performing one of their show-stopping routines
Guy Levy/BBC via PA Media

After serving as the UK’s points announcer during the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this month, AJ will now be seen in action as the new host of Channel 4’s The Bridge.

It was also confirmed this week that she and comedian Mo Gilligan will front a new incarnation of The Big Breakfast, having previously won praise when they presented a one-off reboot as part of Channel 4’s Black To Front initiaitve last year.


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