AJ Odudu has been impressing viewers and judges week after week on Strictly Come Dancing alongside her professional partner, Kai Widdrington, with the pair even sparking romance rumours recently following their dreamy American Smooth.
MORE: Strictly stars AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington put on the spot over romance rumours
While AJ has quickly become a popular participant in the BBC show, you may not know as much about her background before she joined Strictly – including her early years and her family life.
We've done some digging so that you don't have to – read on to find out more about the stunning star, her big family, and how her upbringing has made the multi-talented AJ who she is today…
WATCH: Strictly's AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington spark romance rumours with hidden mic clip
What is AJ Odudu's full name?
AJ was born Onatejiro Odudu but goes by the shortened form of her name for work. Her first TV role saw her fronting BBC Two's The Almost Perfect Guide to Life back in 2009 and she shot to fame after co-hosting Big Brother's Bit on the Side with Emma Willis and Rylan Clark in 2013.
AJ shot to fame hosting Big Brother's Bit on the Side
Where is AJ Odudu from?
The star, who is known for her Northern accent, was born in Blackburn, Lancashire on 12 February 1988, making her 33 years old.
MORE: AJ Odudu left in 'agony' after intense Strictly rehearsal
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AJ went Keele University, where she studied English and Politics before starting her career at Radio Lancashire. She's now based in London but has received comments online about her accent, although she's adamant that she won't let them affect her. Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph, she said: "I'd never change it. It's part of who I am."
How many siblings does AJ Odudu have?
AJ comes from a big family and has seven siblings. Her mum moved from Nigeria to Blackburn in the 1970s to marry her dad as part of an arranged marriage, and in an interview with Mail Online in 2018, AJ opened up about the difference between her parents' life and her own.
AJ is close to her mum Florence
Speaking about her parents, the presenter said: "Because they are Nigerian, they had an arranged marriage years ago, they had eight children and they literally can’t imagine being 30 and not having children."
The star is still close to her family, including her mum, even bringing her to London when she appeared on The One Show to announce she would be starring in Strictly.
Talking to The Star newspaper before the start of the series, she revealed that her mum was excited for her to appear on the show as the pair are huge fans. "We’ll watch Strictly Come Dancing together over the telephone when we’re not in the same household," AJ said.
The 33-year-old went on: "She just is beside herself so is so excited and she’s really nervous. What is really hilarious is that she said to me the other night, 'Oh, you know, I’ve got gin in for the launch show just to settle my nerves.'"
What does AJ Odudu say about her background?
The determined star also shared with the newspaper that she could cope with any negative feedback on her dances because she's had to develop a thick skin to succeed.
The 33-year-old is dancing with Kai Widdringtron on Strictly
She said: "There’s be a lot of rejection, a lot of setbacks, that’s both societally and professionally. I've been taking criticism all my life so I'll feel upset about it a little bit and then learn from it."
SEE: Strictly's Kai Widdringtron shares adorable throwback photo – and we hardly recognised him!
Who is AJ Odudu dating?
The star is believed to not have a boyfriend at present. Last year, she spoke to Mail Online about how the pandemic had affected her chances of dating, saying: "I have been all alone, I didn't move back in with family, I didn't see anyone… and then just as I was getting out there, lockdown two happened and now I'm just focused on work."
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