'Strictly' star Rose Ayling-Ellis 'so proud' to be role model as first deaf contestant
Rose Ayling-Ellis has told how proud she is to be making history as Strictly’s first ever deaf contestant.
The EastEnders star, 27, has been a huge hit on the BBC ballroom show, where she counts to keep to the music.
She told Sky News she has been inundated with messages from others in the deaf community.
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“It's nice to be part of history, being the first deaf (contestant) on Strictly," she said.
"I think it's super important because it's an opportunity to show on such a big platform with millions of people watching, and change their concept of what they think deaf people are like. I'm very proud of that."
Ayling-Ellis – who is known for playing Frankie Lewis in the BBC soap - said her being on Strictly has been wonderful for other deaf people because “it shows the culture and their community... because deaf people are not just deaf people”.
The star, who is paired with pro Giovanni Pernice on the show, said it was also great to give deaf children a role model on such a big programme.
Ayling-Ellis and Pernice have been a huge success on the dancefloor, where they received the earliest perfect score in Strictly history for their Halloween-themed tango.
The pair are now thought to be the frontrunners to lift the coveted Glitterball trophy.
Read more: Rose Ayling-Ellis reveals she broke hearing aid during Strictly rehearsals
The semi-final of the competition takes place this weekend, with the contestants each performing two dances.
Watch: Strictly's Rose Ayling-Ellis on making history as the first deaf contestant