strictly come dancing line up

Strictly Come Dancing line up: Why was AJ Odudu axed from Big Brother’s Bit on the Side?

The 'traumatic' incident left her feeling 'insecure'

The lovely AJ Odudu was one of the first stars to join the 2021 Strictly Come Dancing line up and we can’t wait to see her waltz her way around the famous ballroom floor.

Before that, though, she has the small matter of the Cooking With the Stars final to contend with on ITV tomorrow night (August 17).

She’s certainly a busy bee.

However, there was a time when AJ almost quit the industry, after she was axed from Big Brother spin-off show Bit on the Side.

strictly come dancing line up
AJ Odudu was one of the first to join the Strictly Come Dancing 2021 line up (Credit: BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing line up: Why was AJ axed from Big Brother?

AJ isn’t entirely sure why her contract wasn’t renewed, but she thinks it’s something to do with her accent and appearance.

And it’s something that made her feel very “insecure”, she has admitted.

Read more: Rylan Clark-Neal to make ‘TV return on Strictly spin-off It Takes Two’

Speaking on the Nobody Told Me podcast, AJ said: “I remember people tweeting: ‘Who is that black girl with that dodgy accent?’ and ‘Why does she sound like that?’

“That made me feel so insecure. People were commenting on things I had no real control over.

“It didn’t help that someone internally said: ‘AJ, we think you should get some help with your voice. Maybe you can speak clearer and we could soften your accent.’

“All of my insecurities were being reinforced by the team that were meant to be supporting me. Then, when my contract wasn’t renewed, that was tough,” she said.

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AJ on Cooking with the Stars (Credit: ITV)

So what happened?

AJ added: “TV is one of those industries where you don’t really get told why something hasn’t worked out.

“So you are left wondering, was it my accent? Was it the way I looked? I didn’t work in TV for years after. It was so traumatic,” she said.

“It felt like it wasn’t my accent that was the problem, it was my accent and my appearance combined. Kind of like, we can deal with a Northern accent but not a Northern accent on a black woman.”

AJ added: “Looking back, I’m so proud I’ve managed to come this far by staying true to myself and not changing. Keeping my accent, keeping my opinions, keeping my voice.”

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AJ once questioned her place on TV (Credit: Splash News)

How did Strictly star AJ find fame?

AJ was born in Blackburn on February 12, 1988. Her parents are both Nigerian, and she has seven siblings.

She graduated from Keele University and shortly after became a reporter for the BBC.

AJ first rose to fame presenting on BBC Two series The Almost Perfect Guide To Life.

Read more: Did Strictly pro Giovanni Pernice date contestant Katie McGlynn?

A few years later, in 2013, she joined Big Brother’s Bit on the Side alongside Emma Willis.

She has since made appearances on numerous shows including Bake Off: An Extra Slice, The Chase: Celebrity Special and Don’t Rock the Boat.

The single star featured in the fourth series of Celebrity First Dates Hotel. And she also starred in Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins in 2019.

Her most recent TV gigs include appearing on an episode of Would I Lie To You and, of course, a starring role on ITV’s Cooking with the Stars.

However, AJ doesn’t just stick to TV presenting.

She regularly has DJ gigs in London and Ibiza, and she’s also a health and fitness expert.

And, this autumn, she’ll be seen waltzing her way onto prime-time Saturday night telly and the 2021 series of Strictly Come Dancing.

The final of Cooking With the Stars airs on ITV tomorrow (August 17) at 9pm.

Head to our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and tell us if you’ll be rooting for AJ.