Rose Ayling-Ellis is making Strictly Come Dancing history.
The 26-year-old actress, best known for her role as Frankie Lewis in the BBC soap Eastenders, is hoping to ‘break stereotypes’ as she becomes the first deaf contestant to be taking part in the competition.
In a statement, she said: “To be the first deaf contestant on Strictly Come Dancing is so exciting and a little bit scary. It is the hardest secret I have ever had to keep so it feels amazing to finally have this out in the open.
“I hope I will do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers. But I am also very excited to learn an incredible new skill and even better I get to learn whilst wearing beautiful dresses made especially for me.”
But it appears Rose is used to firsts, as she was also the first deaf actress to play a deaf character on Eastenders, where she plays the secret daughter of Mick Carter, played by Danny Dyer.
BBC/Kieron McCarron/Jack Barnes)
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The pair formed an unlikely bond when Rose joined the soap in 2020 thanks to his “top-notch” deaf awareness.
Rose told Inside Soap magazine that he goes out of his way to make sure she can lip read him well, even walking backwards so she can see his lips when he talks.
“Danny made me feel at ease right from the start,” she shared, “His deaf awareness is top-notch, and he even walks backwards with me to set, just so I can see his face, which says a lot about him.
“We get on really well and I’m always excited to share scenes with him.”
Rose continued: “Having him as my screen dad is amazing!
“I couldn’t believe it when I was told. I was so nervous about meeting him and was worried if I would be able to lip-read him.”
Danny was even the first of her friends on set that she spilt the secret that she was joining Strictly.
Rose explained: “I told Danny first and Danny was really, really proud of me. Then I told Maddy [Hill, who plays Nancy] and Kellie [Bright, who plays Linda]. They were all just so, so excited for me.”
And while she’s nervous to take her place on the dancefloor, she’s in good hands on the Eastenders set as many of her colleagues have taken part in the show, and have been sharing their tips.
She added: “Emma Barton [who plays Honey] and Danny just said to just be myself.
“And I had advice from Natalie [Cassidy] who plays Sonia. She said, ‘Always feel comfortable in what you wear, so if anything feels too long, always say, ‘Can I have it a bit shorter than that?'”
Talking about why she wanted to take part in the show, Rose explained that it gives her “a purpose.”
“I feel like it’s so important for somebody like me to be on the show, I want to break down the stereotype that deaf people can’t dance and can’t enjoy music.”
Before joining Eastenders, Rose starred as Esther in the BBC Two miniseries Summer of Rockets alongside Keeley Hawes, and Timothy Spall.
She then also appeared in Casualty, where she played Bianca Sinclair.
*Strictly Come Dancing is back on BBC One tonight (Saturday, September 25) at 7.45pm.
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