AJ Odudu and Louis Byrne Collaborate for Empowerment Project

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Celebrity empowerment hairdresser Louis Byrne has praised Strictly Come Dancing star AJ Odudu for overcoming ‘social and personal demons’ and thriving as ‘her authentic self.’

Louis recently styled TV presenter AJ’s hair and spoke at length with her as part of his ‘I Can I Am And I Will’ movement, a project that fuses creativity with wellness and invites inspirational people to share their stories.

Best known for presenting Channel 5’s Big Brother’s Bit on the Side, AJ grew up in Lancashire where she faced racism daily. Raised by a proud Nigerian family, with a mother who did the school run in traditional dress, AJ was encouraged to be proud of her heritage and so developed a strength that helped her move past the bullying. When the same racist comments began on social media years later, AJ used her strength and resilience to overcome the ignorance and empower herself to achieve her dreams.

AJ’s spirit and conviction mirrors the mantra behind #ICIAIW which highlights the unique relationship between hairdresser and client that’s built solely on trust. We create a safe space to talk and offload, often in a reflective and supportive way. People sometimes share their innermost feelings with their stylists, and we harness that special relationship to discuss mental wellbeing and positive empowerment. – Louis Byrne

During their conversation, AJ championed self-acceptance – the ability to accept and celebrate your imperfections – and encouraged others to do the same:

I can build myself back up again after facing loads of rejections and failures. I cock up loads and loads, but I’m really good at picking myself up and I draw huge amounts of confidence from that.

Now starring on BBC1’s seasonal favourite Strictly Come Dancing, together with dance partner Kai Widdrington, AJ has wowed judges with her confident performances. Topping the leader board on Week 1, judge Motsi Mabuse called her routine ‘the best dance of the evening’ with Anton Du Beke hailing her ‘completely brilliant.’ And despite admitting that she was ‘emotional’ after suffering with ‘self-doubt’ in the run up to Week 3’s dance, AJ achieved her highest score of the series, confirming her ability to channel her inner confidence and bounce back from obstacles that come her way, in line with the #ICIAIW message. Hotly tipped as one of the favourites to take the trophy, Louis describes her as ‘an inspirational pillar of strength’ and ‘a truly empowering woman.’

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