Ashley Banjo said he hoped Diversity’s Black Lives Matter-inspired dance on Britain’s Got Talent was part of why he was made an MBE.
The star, 33, found found fame after winning BGT in 2009 with his dance troupe, and was named on the New Year Honours list at the end of 2021.
In September 2020, Diversity delivered a headline-grabbing routine on the ITV show, in which a man dressed in police uniform knelt on Ashley.
The Bafta-winning dance echoed the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in the US the previous summer.
Appearing on Friday’s The One Show, Ashley reflected on the routine and his MBE honours.
He said: ‘I was so proud to get it for services to dance. It is what I have dedicated my life to, it is what I love to do.
‘I think the routine we did did have something to do with it, because at the end of the day it was using dance like we always have done, to not just tell a narrative but to put a message across – to educate, to inspire.’
He added: ‘So that is something that is really important to me. Dance isn’t just for entertainment. It isn’t just for backing recording artists.
‘It can be used for anything. It is a form of communication, it is a form of art.
‘I hope it had something to do with [the MBE] because I am really proud of that dance.’
While many praised Diversity’s emotional performance, they were also met with a huge wave of Ofcom complaints – and Ashley later revealed that he received threats online.
The professional dancer admitted it had ‘hugely’ affected him at the time, as they had ‘never had a negative reaction to anything really’ before.
For several weeks Ashley didn’t leave his home, as he was worried about how the death threats he received online might ‘translate in the physical world’.
But a year after the iconic routine, Ashley was made an MBE, which he said made him ‘extremely proud’.
Speaking to PA at the time, he said he was ‘so humbled and extremely proud to be receiving this honour. It really is the ultimate accolade.
‘It’s something I never saw coming and for my mum and dad to see this moment means the world.’
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