'Strictly' judge Motsi Mabuse says racist abuse has 'become worse' in recent years

Tom Beasley
Motsi Mabuse attends the "Strictly Come Dancing" launch show red carpet on August 26, 2019. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)

New Strictly Come Dancing judge Motsi Mabuse has revealed her struggles with racist abuse and said the problem has “become worse” in recent years.

The 38-year-old dancer is set to replace Dame Darcey Bussell on the new series of the BBC show, which debuts this weekend.

Mabuse told Radio Times she has suffered racist abuse throughout her career, including her time as a judge on Let’s Dance — the German version of Strictly.

She said: “I’ve learnt the power of words. I’ve had the worst thrown at me.

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"Racism is very extreme and it has become worse in recent years.

"People are feeling, for some reason: ‘we can attack’.

Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas attend the "Strictly Come Dancing" launch show red carpet on August 26, 2019. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)

"They write some bad stuff — they’re gonna ‘hit you with a baseball bat’ and call me ‘monkey’.”

In 2017, Let’s Dance contestant Faisal Kawusi sparked controversy when he made a joke comparing people of Mabuse’s South African heritage to monkeys.

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But several years on, Mabuse said she has found a way to deal with the abuse.

"I’ve learnt to not look that deeply into what people say as it’s mostly a reflection of themselves,” Mabuse said.

Judges Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli attend the "Strictly Come Dancing" launch show red carpet. (Photo by Lia Toby/Getty Images)

Mabuse — sister of Strictly professional Oti — will take up her place on the judging panel after eight years as a judge on Let’s Dance, which is a role she will continue to fill despite her new gig.

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She has already angered some Strictly fans, with comments from her autobiography in which she referred to Blackpool — home of one of the show’s most spectacular annual episodes — as the “ugliest” town she had ever seen.

Mabuse apologised to the town and to the fans, saying she was “young and innocent” when she wrote the comments.

Strictly Come Dancing airs its launch episode on 7 September on BBC One.