Tameka Empson is getting ready for her first dance on Strictly this weekend and it seems the EastEnders actress has already got her eye on the glitterball trophy...

We’ve already seen Tameka Empson sashaying around Albert Square as her bubbly EastEnders character, Kim Fox, has been teaching the residents of Walford how to Salsa dance. But will Tameka be hot to trot on Strictly?

Now that the reality has set in, and your first live performance is this weekend, how are you feeling?
“I’m telling everybody don’t pinch me, I don’t wanna wake up! I’ve always watched Strictly and I’ve always wanted to be on the show and, I have to say, I am sooooo enjoying it.”

We’ve seen you on EastEnders doing a bit of Salsa dancing as Kim. What do you think Kim would say about you doing Strictly?
“Kim would be so jealous that I’m doing Strictly! Kim likes to show off her moves and I think I can shake my booty – but to shake it to choreography, that’s going to be something else! Joking aside, I do want to take things seriously on Strictly. I just don’t want to put a foot wrong or mess things up for my dance partner, Gorka.”

Tameka Empson plays Kim Fox in EastEnders

Tameka Empson as Kim Fox in EastEnders

 

Ah yes, you’re dancing with one of Strictly’s new pro-dancers, Gorka Marquez, who you immediately dubbed ‘Gorka the Corker’ on the launch show. Now you’ve started training, is Gorka still a corker?
“Ha, ha! Gorka’s definitely a corker – I was not prepared to be whisked off my feet the way that I was on the launch show, I can tell you. Gorka’s really easy to talk to and you can see that he wants to do well, but he’s definitely gone in at the deep end with me! For our first dance, he’s certainly putting me through my paces, but I’m trying to be a good student.”

Tameka Empson with Gorka Marquez

Tameka with her professional dance partner Gorka ‘The Corker’ Marquez

 

What teasers can you give us about you first dance this weekend?
“I’ve really got to work on my stamina because our first dance is fast and furious, that’s all I’m saying. I’m hoping it’s going to look as impressive on the night as it does in my head!”

How do you feel about dancing in front of the judges? Who do you really want to impress?
“Well, I really want to impress them all, and I hope Craig doesn’t make me cry. I’m known for being smiley, but I can be emotional, too. I’m really hard on myself and I want to make sure I get it right.”

Strictly Come Dancing 2016 - Judges

Now, now Craig… we won’t be happy if you upset our Tameka!

 

On a lighter note, are you loving all of the glitter and sparkles involved in Strictly?
“Well, I don’t really go out often, so this is my going out. I keep saying to the make-up department: ‘Give me the big hair, the glitter, give me the works!’ I am ready. I am a canvas that is waiting to be painted… and I’m loving it!”

Kellie Bright – AKA EastEnders’ Linda Carter – came runner-up in the Strictly final last year. Has she given you any advice?
“Kellie told me just to enjoy it and not hold back. She also told me to eat properly and rest as much as you can, which is kind of difficult when you’re doing EastEnders, you have a two-year-old daughter AND you have to rehearse!”

Kellie Bright with Kevin Clifton on Strictly 2015

Tameka’s co-star Kellie Bright with dance partner Kevin Clifton on last year’s Strictly

 

Have you thought about how you’re going to juggle it all?
“As women, we multi-task and that’s all I’m hoping to do. I’m trying not to stress about it actually because, the thing is, everything I’m doing I do really enjoy – I’m enjoying the dancing, I’m enjoying being on EastEnders and I’m enjoying my daughter. Although, obviously, this is only the first week of the competition, so I’m still smiling… at the moment!”

Strictly Class of 2016

Tameka and the Strictly Class of 2016!

 

Which of your Strictly rivals do you see as a real contender? Will it be a ‘battle of the soaps’ between you and Hollyoaks’ Danny Mac?
“Well, I know me and Danny Mac have that soap background, but I actually think my biggest competitor is Oti the professional dancer who, funnily enough, is partnered with Danny. Oti thinks she’s all that and then some, so I think I’m gonna have to take her down a peg or two… just kidding! I think all of us are really nervous – but we’re all in it together.”

Finally, what do you hope to get out of being on Strictly?
“I hope to get back the trim figure that I once had. And, yes, I have been flirting with the idea of winning the actual glitterball trophy. It would be nice to get my hands on it. If you’re in it, you might as well be in it to win it!”

Strictly Come Dancing starts on Friday, September 23 at 9pm, and continues on Saturday, September 24 on BBC1.