Strictly Come Dancing star Ashley Roberts opened up about her time on the BBC show and her love life during a candid chat with HELLO! magazine in December 2018. The former Pussycat Doll oozed perfection as she posed against the backdrop of London's iconic Battersea Power Station, where she lives in a riverside apartment. She moved to London from Los Angeles in 2013. "I love the city and I've had such an amazing life here the past couple of years," she shared. "The Brits have been so good to me and I have built an amazing community of friends. I never would have pictured that this is where I would be but this feels like home."
Ashley has loved being part of the Strictly family, which includes her Russian dance partner Pasha Kovalev and fellow celebrity contestants Stacey Dooley and Joe Sugg. "Strictly has exceeded all my expectations. It's amazing to think of all that’s happened during this journey. We are a family and there are so many kind people. I feel like we have a bond for life. Stacey is hilarious and Joe is a sweetheart. Pasha is awesome. He is so patient and kind, and I know he has my back." Ashley, 37, has been a favourite with the judges throughout her time on the BBC1 show, landing several perfect ten scores along the way. But, as a member of former US girl group The Pussycat Dolls – known for their song and dance routines – she has also been criticised for having an unfair advantage over her rivals, which may have led to her not receiving enough public votes and ending up in the dreaded Sunday night dance-off - three times in a row.
Ashley Roberts has been showcasing her dance skills on Strictly
"I have butterflies and my stomach is in knots because you never, ever know what is going to happen on that show," the star explained. "At the end of the day it’s down to the public and who they connect with and who they want to take that trophy. We said in the beginning: ‘Let’s just go out there and do the best that we can every single week.’ The rest is out of our hands." She added: "The last time I did any dance training was probably in 1999, and that was singular dancing – hip-hop and jazz. We had very free-flowing movement and the ballroom hold is really foreign and awkward to me. It’s such a different way of moving your body. If anything, I have bad habits."
MORE: Who is Strictly Come Dancing's Ashley Roberts?
Perhaps Ashley's most memorable performance on the show was the contemporary dance routine she dedicated to her late father Pat, who took his own life in March after a long battle with his physical and mental health. The performance, to Unsteady by XAmbassadors, moved head judge Shirley Ballas to tears. "So many people have been through something harsh, and this was an amazing opportunity to help heal by using dance as a vessel and to touch and connect with other people that have been through loss, so it was very special," said Ashley. The tragedy is clearly still very raw for her. The offer to take part in Strictly came soon after her beloved dad – a drummer in the 1960s with The Mamas and the Papas – died, and Ashley believes he somehow helped make it happen.
"The fact that Strictly came in to my life when it did, I just felt like it was a gift. I feel that my dad is behind me when I’m doing the show. He and I connected through music. He had a recording studio and there was always music playing at home – rock, pop, alternative and jazzy stuff – music that made you feel something. He used to say that if I ever did Strictly he would fly here and see it, and so when I got the call I didn’t hesitate. I know he would be proud and that he’s with me."
Ashley had already faced family heartache when her younger brother Jayce was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He now lives in a psychiatric institution in the US. "That is the best place for him. I visit him when I can, which is when I go back home." Ashley said her close bond with mum Peggy Lorraine, a former Pilates teacher who separated from Pat some 20 years ago, is even stronger now. She will be flying home to Phoenix, Arizona, to spend Christmas with her – a time that will no doubt feel particularly poignant this year. "My mum and I were always close but I think something like that definitely brings you closer," she said of the loss of her father. "My mum is an exceptional human. I love her to absolute bits."
READ: Ashley Roberts asks fans for their help
Ashley moved to London after her appearance in the 2012 series of I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! led to offers of work. She has since built a close circle of friends here, including comedian Leigh Francis, TV presenter Stacey Solomon and her former bandmates Kimberly Wyatt and Nicole Scherzinger, who have been supporting her in the Strictly audience. "Kim's my little soul sister. She lives in England and she married a Brit [model Max Rogers] and has two little girls. They’re my family – Kim and Max and those little kids. I love them to pieces."
Ashley has been single for most of this year and says she's been too busy with Strictly to think about romance. While she has been linked with Strictly professional dancer Giovanni Pernice, and the pair have been out for drinks, she denies reports that they’re dating. "Everybody hangs out. We’re a good group of people and everybody supports each other but he and I are just friends. I have been really busy and this show has been taking up a lot of time – that has been my main focus.
MORE: Ashley Roberts posts defiant message after Strictly criticism
"I was in a relationship that ended earlier this year and while I really am open and would love to find someone to share my life with, it’s got to be the right person. I’m good with my own company and I’m an advocate of being confident being on your own. Someone who comes in is an added bonus.” Despite the emotional challenges that have been thrown at her of late, Ashley has picked herself up, smiled through her pain and put on her sequined outfits and makeup each week to hit the dancefloor.
"Life has been a rollercoaster ride with ups and downs and twists and turns. I definitely have felt the lowest of the lows in my life for sure but it’s life and this is my choice now of how I want to live it. I want to make life an adventure, that’s my goal. I want to live it in a place where I get to do amazing creative projects like Strictly and my amazing community of friends make me feel like I can stay strong and move forward. I feel that projects and people come into your life when they’re supposed to."
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