Motsi Mabuse will make her debut on Strictly Come Dancing tonight. And, ahead of the show's hotly-anticipated return, she broke her silence on Louie Spence's comments that she'd been hired to tick a racial box.
‘It would be really sad if someone chose me for my colour only. I think a person of colour in any situation should be qualified to do the job. Not just because of the colour of their skin,’ she told The Sun.
‘You’re always going to have someone attacking you in some way. But it’s weird from someone who’s never met you, I thought it was funny.’
Motsi’s comments come after Louie – a fellow dancer and musical theatre performer – branded the 38-year-old a ‘nobody’ after it was announced she’d be replacing Darcey Bussell.
He said: ‘I don’t know her. She is a nobody. She isn’t a celebrity. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t put Anton there – everyone loves him as a pro dancer on the show – unless it was because they wanted another woman on the panel.
‘Also, they’ve got somebody of colour, which is being diverse. They like to tick every box. I’m not saying she’s not credible, but maybe that’s why they chose her.’
Having grown up in South Africa, Motsi’s upbringing wasn’t easy but she credits dance for allowing her to feel ‘accepted as a human being’.
‘I’m so thankful for the world of dance because if I had grown up with just the South African bitterness of the very hard childhood we had, and I’d never experienced the love of the dance world, then I probably would have been a very sad person,’ she told The Mirror.
‘The world of dance is where I felt accepted as a human being.’