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Born in Mumbai, India, on 18 December 1968, Wadia was raised in a one-bedroom, ground-floor “space” that regularly flooded during monsoon season.
“My brother, sister and I squeezed together on the bed and my mum and dad slept on a mattress on the floor,” she told The Independent in 2011. “Aged nine, we moved to a two-bedroom flat in Hong Kong. It was like moving to a mansion.”
From a young age, Wadia wanted to be a barrister. She rose to prominence as an actor in the BBC’s Goodness Gracious Me, which ran from 1998 to 2001, before being cast in her best-known role as matriarch Zainab Masood in EastEnders, a role she played until 2013.
Wadia has also appeared in popular British series including Doctors, The Vicar of Dibley, and Holby City. She had a role in the comedy film Bend It Like Beckham, as well as in Guy Ritchie’s 2019 live-action remake of Disney’s Aladdin. She played Anwar’s mother in the E4 series Skins.
She has been married to her husband, composer Raiomond Mirza, since 1998. They have two children together and live in west London.
Speaking about taking part in Strictly, Wadia said: “I’ve always danced like nobody’s watching, so if we blindfold the judges I could actually win Strictly 2021.”
She added: “I think I should do this before I’m too old any more. I think this is last year I’m ever wearing heels. I think I think there’s a lot happened in the last couple of years and I just want to grab life by the balls.”
Strictly Come Dancing airs on Saturday nights on BBC One.