Celebrity hair

Strictly Contestant AJ Odudu Praised by Celebrity Hairdresser for Overcoming Racist Backlash

by kieran / last updated November 24, 2021

strictly AJ

Strictly Come Dancing contestant AJ Odudu has been recently praised by celebrity empowerment hairdresser Louis Byrne for overcoming “social and personal demons” and thriving as “her authentic self”.

Louis, who had been styling the TV presenter’s hair for this season of the hit BBC1 show, credited AJ’s spirit in the face of racist social media comments as part of his ‘I Can I Am I Will’ movement. The two spoke at length for the project that fuses creativity with wellness and brings on inspirational people to share their insights and stories.

Raised by a proud Nigerian family in Lancashire, AJ is best known for presenting Channel 5’s Big Brother’s Bit on the Side and has dealt with racism on a daily basis throughout her life. Encouraged to be proud of her heritage, she developed a strength that helped her move past this form of bullying and has continued into her inspiring attitude taken to comments made this year.

Louis commented: “AJ’s spirit and conviction mirrors the mantra behind #ICIAIW which highlights the unique relationship between hairdresser and client that’s built solely on trust. We create a safe space to talk and offload, often in a reflective and supportive way. People sometimes share their innermost feelings with their stylists, and we harness that special relationship to discuss mental wellbeing and positive empowerment.”

Underlining the importance of self-acceptance, AJ said of the experience: “I can build myself back up again after facing loads of rejections and failures. I cock up loads and loads, but I’m really good at picking myself up and I draw huge amounts of confidence from that.’

This confidence has shone throughout the course of the series through AJ’s performances with dance partner Kai Widdrington. Topping the leaderboard on Week 1, judge Motsi Mabuse called her routine “the best dance of the evening” with Anton Du Beke hailing her “completely brilliant.” 

Despite admitting she was ‘emotional’ after suffering with ‘self-doubt’ in the run up to Week 3’s dance, AJ also achieved her highest score of the series, confirming her ability to channel her inner confidence.

Find out more about the ‘I Can I Am I Will’ movement by Louis Byrne here.

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