AJ Odudu has admitted that she almost quit TV after she endured vile online abuse from trolls over her Northern accent.
The 33-year-old TV presenter, who will compete on the 2021 series of Strictly Come Dancing, was left traumatised after the online bullies branded her the ‘black girl with a dodgy accent.’
The hate began when she made her TV debut on Big Brother’s Bit On The Side back in 2013.
Sad: AJ Odudu has admitted that she almost quit TV after she endured vile online abuse from trolls over her Northern accent (pictured last month)
The star, who hails from Blackburn, claimed Channel 4 bosses at the time suggested that she even get elocution lessons to make her accent less obvious because the trolling was getting so severe.
AJ said the prejudice may have come from the fact that people ‘can deal with a northern accent but not a northern accent on a black woman.’
She said on the Nobody Told Me podcast: ‘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.’
Awful: The TV presenter was left traumatised after the online bullies branded her as the ‘black girl with a dodgy accent.’ (pictured 2020)
‘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”
‘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.’
AJ has also spoken to The Mirror about how the odds were against her getting into TV, as she comes from a working class family.
She grew up in Lancashire, and studied English and Politics at Keele University before starting a job at Radio Lancashire.
Hard worker: She is set to star in the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing
Not good: AJ said the prejudice may come from the fact that people ‘can deal with a northern accent but not a northern accent on a black woman.’
The Don’t Rock The Boat host used to say to her mother when she was young: ‘I want to be inside the TV’ and did everything she can to fulfill her dream, including working for free when she had no money.
She said that being on Strictly Come Dancing is a dream come true after she had to save up for the train to get to London for auditions and had to search auditions on a library computer.
AJ said her accent got in the way of her opportunities, and has said that lots of people didn’t take her seriously because of it.
She said: ‘I felt like a lot of odds were stacked against me to begin with, be it financial, racial, class, gender… but I have been so lucky having my parents champion me and say that I can.’
No support: She claimed Channel 4 bosses suggested that she even get elocution lessons to make her accent less obvious because of the trolling
After spending years putting in the graft to become a household name, appearing on The Voice UK, SAS Who Dares Wins, and winning ITV2’S Celebrity Karaoke Club, Strictly will do just that and push AJ into the mainstream.
She said that keeping the news under wraps from her mother was really difficult, as they used to even have Strictly parties, and she saw the show as saving grace in lockdown last year.
AJ’s mother, Florence, will be her plus one at the Strictly studio every week, and will enjoy her single life on the show, rather than trying to find love – the show is notorious in making (and breaking) couples.
To celebrate her big break, AJ will be popping open the bubbly.
CBBC presenter Rhys Stephenson is the latest celebrity to be announced to take part in the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.
He will join AJ, and GBBO’s John Whaite, Robert Webb and Tom Fletcher in the 2021 line-up.
By her side: AJ’s mother, Florence, (pictured) will be her plus one at the Strictly studio every week, and will enjoy her single life on the show, rather than trying to find love