Oti Mabuse has opened up to Red about changing careers in her 20s and how they're filming Strictly Come Dancing during the pandemic, in an exclusive interview for our October issue (out today).
The professional dancer and Strictly judge also reflected on being the first Black South African woman in her industry, and explains why she decided to post a picture of her natural hair on Instagram after having previously questioned whether to do so.
'You need to feel comfortable opening up about what you look like, before you decide whether or not you want to share that with other people,' she told Red.
A comfort the dancing star now undoubtedly feels, after watching her career soar to new heights thanks to her regular slot on Strictly, which will resume filming in October – albeit with social distancing measures in place.
‘For the first part, all the pros will be quarantining, learning our group numbers and pre-recording them,' Oti explains. 'We’ll have to be flexible to make the show work.’
The competition show isn't the only good thing to have come from her dancing career, she reveals, describing how she met her now-husband Marius [Lepure] after her sister Motsi (also a professional dancer) set the pair up as dancing partners.
‘When I said I wanted to become a professional dancer, Motsi suggested a few boys I could trial with as dance partners. Marius was the first and only try-out I had. I cancelled all the others. I was like, “This is the one.”’
Now a household name on British television screens, Oti wasn't always destined for stardom. After studying civil engineering at university, the now 29-year-old went on to travel a lot for work, meaning she had to give up her beloved dancing for a while – a move she admits felt 'very weird' and 'didn't make sense.'
'One day, I got home and said: “Mum, it’s just not working out for me.” She was like, “Okay, then do what you need to do. But if you want it, you have to learn how to get it on your own.” So I just said, “Cool, okay, I’m going back to dancing and I’m moving to another continent.”’
On the passion and drive that saw her change careers and take up professional dancing later in life (a highly unusual move in the industry), Oti credits her healthy sense of ambition and strong work ethic.
‘I think it’s a good thing to be ambitious and to set your sights on things. When I say I’m ambitious, I don’t mean I’ll take people out to achieve what I want – I have my goals and they are mine. I work hard and I’m disciplined. If I try something, I know I’m going to give it 120%.’
You can read our interview with Oti Mabuse in full in the October issue of Red, out now.
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