There’s definitely no missing Dianne Buswell. With her mane of red hair, and personality that’s just as vibrant, she’s made dancing her way to fame and popularity on Strictly look effortless.
She found love along the way too. Buswell and YouTube star, Joe Suggs, got together after being partnered in the 2018 series – and making it to the final – and have been an item ever since.
So what’s her secret to success? “Being open to change and, even if it’s scary, embracing it,” says the Australia-born dancer, 31, who is currently supporting the #DoveSwitchItUp campaign, which encourages people to switch one thing in their life to help make it better.
She’s certainly made that work in her own life.
Buswell swapped her scissors (she was a full-time hairdresser until age 21) for dancing shoes when she turned professional – but she didn’t make that move without some trepidation.
“As an amateur dancer, I’d competed for years with my brother Andrew; it was a real challenge to step full-time into the world of professional dancing. It’s super competitive. I was very nervous about it,” she recalls of taking on her first pro role with an national dance company.
She has previously talked about struggling with the pressure in the early days, exercising excessively and skipping meals. “I came out a lot stronger from that experience, learnt a lot, and I think it’s helped me empathise more and I hope help other people struggling with their wellbeing,” she says now.
“Over the years, I’ve switched a lot of things up in my life and they’ve all had a positive impact,” she adds. “I think the only way you find out where your passions lie is by giving things a go. I’m so happy with where I am now.”
Buswell, who had a string of other TV jobs before joining Strictly in 2017, is also embracing another ‘switch up’ on the work front, as a social media influencer. (She has her own ‘Buswellness’ lifestyle channel on YouTube and Instagram.)
Here, she tells us more about what makes her tick, her relationship with Sugg, and the only reason she’d ever change that trademark flame-red hair…
How does it feel being part of Strictly?
“I have to pinch myself sometimes. It’s a dream come true and it’s been such a wonderful experience. I came from a small town, Bunbury in Western Australia, where there was only one dance school – and now I’m on this huge show that everyone loves. It’s incredible really, and wonderful being with such a lovely group of people. It’s like being part of a family.”
Does the show feel different this year, with all the restrictions in place?
“It’s just as brilliant. What’s great is I feel that if anything, this year’s show is more exciting than ever, because the UK really needs this burst of happiness, sparkle and Strictly magic that just takes you away to another place.
“All the dancers have been together for a month in quarantine, so we’ve filmed the group routines and now we’re waiting to meet our new partners, which is really exciting.
“My partner and I will form a ‘bubble’, which will be a little different from previous years but we won’t be living together. We’ll just train all day and then go to our own homes each night for well-earned rest and sleep.”
How is your relationship right now?
“Joe and I are so happy together. He’s just a breath of fresh air, a little ray of sunshine and he’s made my life so much better. He’s 100% my soulmate and I can just be myself when I’m with him – nothing is ever too silly for me to say, and I can sometimes be a silly kind of character who likes to have fun. Joe totally gets that and never thinks any less of me.
“I never have to try to please him in any way. because he’s just naturally pleased with me the way I am. which is amazing. We’re so looking forward to dancing together again when we tour next year in our own dance show, Joe And Dianne.
“I won’t be able to see Joe while I’m on Strictly, but it’s very normal for us to go through times where we don’t see each other, sometimes for months on end, purely because we’re so busy. But our relationship’s strong enough to cope with that.
“Me and Joe inspire each other. Him discovering his love of performing has led him to do incredible things [Sugg, 29, recently landed his first major TV role in upcoming BBC drama, The Syndicate] and I’ve loved getting into his world on YouTube.
“There’s no plans for an engagement that I know of! It’s still quite a new relationship, but who knows what will happen in the future.”
Would you ever change your red hair?
“It’s the one thing I’m not keen to switch, although I’ve said if I win Strictly, I will put on another colour just for the fun of it! It wouldn’t be easy, because it feels like such a big part of me. I colour it myself and it’s taken years to get to the shade I love.
“I just love colour in everything. My wardrobe’s bright too, with hardly any black clothes, everything is pink, yellow, green and pastels.”
How do you look after your wellbeing?
“When I dance, I forget about everything in the world – I’m just in the moment. It makes me so happy and that’s vital for my wellbeing.
“I’m a very sociable person but I also need time on my own, when I can ground myself, switch off social media and take care of myself. I think it’s really important for mental health.
“I have essentials which are part of my routine: yoga, which helps me improve my breathing and relax, Pilates and meditation. I also fuel myself with good home-cooked food, fruit and vegetables, and make my own juices. I believe what you put into yourself, you get out.”
Do you have any regrets?
“No, I’d only have regrets if I hadn’t taken opportunities when they came up, but even if it’s been a big leap in the dark, I’ve always taken my courage in both hands and tried new things.
“I’m at an age now where I’m pretty confident in myself, and happy with my myself and my body. Wisdom comes as you get older and you realise what’s important in life – the way you look isn’t important, it’s what’s within that counts and how you feel about yourself.
“I don’t wear make-up for my YouTube vlog, because I want people to see the real me and be as natural as possible. I think it’s important younger girls can see that realness, and not some image. The reality is, none of us are perfect but there’s always something lovely in everyone.”
Dianne Buswell is supporting the #DoveSwitchItUp campaign for Dove’s original anti-perspirant deodorant, available in all major retailers.