Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse on the book that helps her stay positive, even when times are tough

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Colin Crummy
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Oti mabuse press shot the Greatest Dancer

Five Minute Philosopher is a weekly series in which Stylist gets profound with people we love. will the Strictly Come Dancing winner and TV judge make of our 22 questions?

What is the meaning of life?

Laughing, listening, loving unlimitedly and working really hard to find happiness and love.

What is the difference between right and wrong?

It’s personal. Do what you need to do to be happy, but it shouldn’t be at someone else’s cost.

Where is your happy place?

Lying on the couch at home in a tiger onesie, eating ribs.

Nature or nurture?

I’m more nurture. I love
 that element of family life, of growing and
 caring for each other. That is something 
I learned from this country and I love it. [Mabuse was born in South Africa.]

Is it more important to be liked or respected?

Respected. You can dislike me but I’d like you to treat me politely. You don’t need to know me to respect me, as well.

If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be?

Having the ability to make people feel good.

Who or what is your greatest love?

Who: my husband. What: dance.

When did you last lie?

I’m awkward and terrible at it so I don’t even try.

Does the supernatural exist?

I believe in supernatural energy that certain people carry, which we can’t see but we feel.

Are you fatalistic?

Yes. You don’t realise until afterwards. Like, if I tried for a job and I didn’t get it but then I go on to get a better job, that is fate. With the first job, it just wasn’t my time.

What is your greatest fear?

Doubt. I’m really scared of being too scared to do things.

Animals or babies?

Can I have both? Three kids and a golden retriever, a husky and a chihuahua. Every kid gets an animal.

What talent do you yearn for?

I really wish I could sing like Beyoncé or Cynthia Erivo or Beverley Knight. I would sing ‘I’m Here’ from The Color Purple musical.

Do you like to be complimented?

It’s a bit awkward, isn’t it? I like to know that I’ve done well, but I don’t think it’s about being complimented. It’s nice when people do it, but it’s not something I seek out.

Do you have a high pain threshold?

I’m petrified of injections and needles and acupuncture, but if I hurt myself and my muscles are sore and I can’t move, that I can handle. I switch my mind off and move on. But if you said you were going to inject vitamins into me, I couldn’t handle it.

What book do you recommend most to others?

You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero. It’s a motivational book and it’s about being awesome and getting in tune with your awesomeness. It helps you maintain positivity, even when times are hard.

Cover of you are a baddass by Jen sincero
Oti counts on Jen Sincero's book to help her stay positive.

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn?

That I don’t always have to be right; things don’t always have to go my way. When you are a perfectionist you are a little bit of a control freak, but the minute you step back and just let other people lead, you let them shine and they may have bigger and better and smarter ideas which help the team or the partnership or the journey.

What food sums up happiness?

Warm ribs with gravy.

What have you never understood?

People with negative perceptions about other people’s lives. Everybody is entitled to have an opinion, but if it doesn’t enlighten or bless or do anything positive, what’s the point?

What is the one thing you want to know before you die?

It’s not something I want to know as much as something that I want to do – before I die I would love to travel and see the world, go to Latin America, get to know the people, the different cultures, the different countries. Then do the same in Africa and Asia. Just experience the world.

Are you scared of dying or what happens when you die?

It’s not the fear of death but how I will die that scares me.

Quinoa or Quavers?

Quavers. That’s an easy one.

Oti Mabuse is a dance captain on The Greatest Dancer on Saturdays at 7pm on BBC One

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