The presenter is taking to the dance floor later this year (Picture: BBC)
The presenter has revealed that she nearly quit TV forever after being subjected to vile abuse on social media following her breakthrough appearances on Big Brother’s Bit On The Side.
The 33-year-old said that being labelled ‘the black girl with the dodgy accent’ left her traumatised, and on the brink of leaving the industry.
The abuse she received for her accent was so bad, in fact, that Channel 4 recommended that she sought out elocution lessons to ‘soften’ her voice.
‘It was brilliant but with that exposure comes a lot of pressure and a lot of criticism,’ AJ said about getting started in the industry.
‘I remember people tweeting, “Who is that black girl with that dodgy accent” and, “Why does she sound like that?” That made me feel so insecure (because) people were commenting on things I had no real control over,’ she told the Nobody Told Me podcast.
‘And it didn’t help that someone internally said, “AJ, we think you should get some help with your voice. Maybe you can speak clearer and we could soften your accent”.’
The presenter went on to say: ‘All of my insecurities were being reinforced by the team that were meant to be supporting me. Then, when my contract wasn’t renewed, that was tough.
‘TV is one of those industries where you don’t really get told why something hasn’t worked out.’
She added: ‘So you are left wondering, “Was it my accent? Was it the way I looked?” I didn’t work in TV for years after. It was so traumatic.’
AJ also said: ‘It felt like it wasn’t my accent that was the problem, it was my accent and my appearance combined. Kind of like, “We can deal with a Northern accent but not a Northern accent on a black woman”.’
‘Looking back, I’m so proud I’ve managed to come this far by staying true to myself and not changing. Keeping my accent, keeping my opinions, keeping my voice.’
AJ is a TV presenter best-known for starring on Big Brother’s Bit on the Side with Rylan Clark-Neal and Emma Willis in 2013.
She went on to present Celebrity Big Brother’s Bit on the Psych, before presenting backstage for The Voice UK and The Voice Kids.
The presenter was one of the first three contestants of Strictly 2021 to be announced, with McFly musician Tom Fletcher and comedian Robert Webb. Great British Bake Off’s John Whaite and CBBC star Rhys Stephenson have also joined the line-up.
Credit: Original article published here.