'Strictly's' Motsi Mabuse says TV stardom is a childhood dream come true

Motsi Mabuse has now been a judge on 'Strictly Come Dancing' for several years. (Guy Levy/BBC)
Motsi Mabuse is starting a third year of judging on 'Strictly Come Dancing'. (Guy Levy/BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing judge Motsi Mabuse has said she still looks at her TV success as a childhood dream that she can't believe has come true.

Mabuse, 40, made her return to the BBC One show's judging panel last night for the launch of Strictly 2021 and has told how she couldn't be happier to be back on the hit series.

Read more: All the Strictly 2021 pairings revealed

Talking about finding fame, she told The Mirror: "My inner child had so much trauma growing up in South Africa. And I never thought I was beautiful. No one ever told me I was beautiful – actually, it was the opposite."

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 18/09/2021 - Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: n/a - Episode: Strictly Come Dancing - Generics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: *NOT FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL 00:01HRS, SATURDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER, 2021* Motsi Mabuse, Craig Revel Horwood, Anton Du Beke, Shirley Ballas - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Motsi Mabuse is judging with Shirley Ballas, Anton Du Beke and Craig Revel Horwood this year. (BBC/Ray Burmiston)

Mabuse explained that when she saw herself on Strictly or in a magazine, she still couldn't believe it when she thought back to her early life.

She said: "I look through the eyes of that child and think, 'Wow, is that me? Is this happening to me?' I’ve never lost that. I think to myself, 'Little girl, can you see how things have turned out?'"

This is Mabuse's third year on the Strictly judging panel, but she has also spent 13 years on German version Let's Dance where she was a pro dancer for a couple of seasons before turning judge.

Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: 18/09/2021 - Episode: Strictly Come Dancing - Launch Show (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas, Anton Du Beke - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
The 2021 series launched with judges divided by perspex screens. (BBC/Guy Levy)

She also added that she was "lower energy" in real life than her TV persona, saying: "Motsi on a Saturday night is a showgirl and I can’t be that all the time, so I put her into the cellar and bring her back out on the weekend."

Her younger sister Oti Mabuse is currently the reigning champion of Strictly, having been crowned the winner two years in a row with Bill Bailey in 2020 and Kelvin Fletcher in 2019.

Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: n/a - Episode: Strictly Come Dancing - Generics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Ugo Monye, Oti Mabuse - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Motsi Mabuse's sister Oti is dancing with Ugo Monye this year. (BBC/Ray Burmiston)

This series, Oti has been paired with former rugby union player Ugo Monye.

Saturday night's launch show also revealed that former Bake Off winner John Whaite would dance with Johannes Radebe in Strictly's first ever all-male pairing.

Read more: John Whaite and Johannes Radebe become Strictly's first all-male pairing

The launch show introduced pro dancer Anton Du Beke in his new judging role, having previously spent every series since it began competing with a celebrity.

Du Beke takes up Bruno Tonioli's role, who is in the US judging Dancing With The Stars and cannot travel due to COVID restrictions, and Mabuse called him finally joining the judging panel "destiny".

Watch: Who is Strictly's Ugo Monye?