Britain’s Got Talent star Ashley Banjo has hit back at ‘hateful’ trolls after being bombarded with messages following Diversity’s Black Lives Matter-inspired routine.
The dancer, 31, took to Twitter on Sunday to insist that trolls ‘highlighted exactly what needed to change’ after his performance left many viewers claiming the show was ‘making a political statement.’
Ashley also thanked many fans for their praise and supportive messages following the raw performance, after many viewers said it left them ‘in tears.’
Important: Britain’s Got Talent star Ashley Banjo has hit back at ‘hateful’ trolls after being bombarded with messages following Diversity’s Black Lives Matter-inspired routine
Ashley tweeted: ‘So much to say… But I’ll Just let the performance talk. Thousands of messages of Love and support – Thank you
‘For the thousands of messages of hate and ignorance – Thank you. You highlight exactly what needs to change. Sending nothing but love to you all.’
Since Diversity’s performance during the first BGT semi-final on Saturday, the show has been embroiled in a row over whether it’s become politicised.
Controversy: The dancer took to Twitter to insist trolls ‘highlighted exactly what needed to change’ after the performance sparked claims the show was ‘making a political statement’
The former champions opened the performance by reciting a viral poem The Great Realisation by the singer Tomfoolery, about the BLM movement and police brutality.
During their performance, the group also narrated the death of George Floyd who died after police officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on his neck in Minneapolis on May 25 for nearly nine minutes.
However the performance has since been met with a flurry of mixed responses from viewers, with some calling out the display as making a ‘political statement’ and others hailing the dance ‘powerful’.
Defiant: During Saturday night’s BGT, Diversity displayed a Black Lives Matter routine and took a knee
One user wrote: ‘Disgraceful! Make political statements elsewhere not on a family TV show.’
While another commented: ‘Wrong time and place. BGT should be a lovely entertainment show not political. I had thoroughly enjoyed the show and forgot the troubles of the world and then thud!
‘So disappointed though AB was a great judge and there was no need for his performance.’
Another person added: ‘I had enjoyed it until then and switched off. It is a talent show not a politics show.’
Meanwhile another fan wrote: ‘So disappointed this was a political performance. Didn’t expect it on BGT. Not the right performance.’
During their performance, the dance group, who were dressed in riot gear, recited the viral poem The Great Realisation by Tomfoolery, about the BLM movement before going on to show a policemen placing a hand over Banjo’s throat as he lay on the ground to the song I Can’t Breathe.
Speaking after the performance Banjo told MailOnline: ‘This performance is extremely special to me and the rest of Diversity. 2020 has been an incredible moment in history for both positive and negative reasons.
‘We wanted to use the platform we’ve been given to make our voices heard, express how the events of this year have made us feel and think about how we might look back on them in the future… We call it hindsight 2020.’
Outraged: Some viewers took to social media to argue that the performance was a political statement which was not for a family show
Elsewhere other viewers praised the group and BGT bosses for depicting the issue.
One person wrote: ‘Prime time Saturday night TV and dance group Diversity performed a routine inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement which featured a police officer kneeling on member Ashley’s Banjo’s neck. Powerful.’
While another viewer added: ‘What an incredible performance from Diversity- a really brave and meaningful way to keep the message out there! I’m really happy to see such diversity within the team now, too! Awesome!’
Another fan commented: ‘Damn! Diversity on BGT last night was the best thing I’ve ever seen, was so moving and put their story across brilliantly. Brought a tear to the eye! Amazing!’
Emotive: Led by Ashley Banjo the former champions delivered a stunning dance reminding viewers of the movement
Another penned: ‘Wow @Diversity_Tweet just wow! Such a powerful important message and done in such a perfect way!’
While another added: ‘That performance by @Diversity_Tweet was absolutely amazing well done very powerful @AshleyBanjo is phenomenal at pulling routines together.’
Following the death of George Floyd earlier this year thousands across the globe took to the streets calling for the officers involved to be jailed for their crime.
Derek Chauvin, 44, was charged in June with second-degree murder while officers Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – were also charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Raw: The dance group were dressed in riot gear as they performed a routine narrating the Black Lives Matter movement
Amazing: The group began the performance by reciting a viral poem The Great Realisation by singer Tomfoolery
During Saturday’s show Ashley Banjo stepped in for Simon Cowell after he was forced to miss the semi-finals due to a back injury.
Cowell was forced to pull out after breaking his back in a cycling accident, and after a six-hour operation has been recovering at home.
The music mogul has insisted producers have made the show the best it can be despite social distancing now being in place – and has even hinted he will indeed appear at the live final in October, despite being on bed rest.
Asked ahead of the show’s semi-finals whether he worried the 2020 series was a write-off, he said: ‘Yeah, for a moment! But then I thought, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way!’
We loved it! Meanwhile other Britain’s Got Talent fans hailed the performance as ‘powerful’ and ‘amazing’
‘I just thought that if we can talk to each other all over the world on something like Zoom then there must be a way for us to do the live shows.’
Cowell underwent emergency surgery in America after the accident in Los Angeles earlier this month, and has been recovering after having a metal rod installed in his back.
This year marks the first time in BGT history that the semi-finals have been pre-recorded, and has also seen changes to the way acts will advance to the final.
Eight contestants will perform in each semi-final and the judges will choose one act to go through. The second finalist will then be chosen via public vote when the episode airs.
With safety concerns paramount, some acts will take part remotely via video link whilst others will perform in the TV studio – with the virtual audiences’ reactions then beamed into the studio on a giant screen.
The series will then culminate with the live final, in October, where one act will triumph as Britain’s Got Talent 2020 Champion and win the life-changing £250,000 prize plus a coveted role on The Royal Variety Performance.
Issues: Dressed in riot gear the dancers told the story of police brutality in light of the Black Lives Matter movement
Moving: The group took to the stage for a raw performance about the BLM movement and police brutality