Strictly’s Ellie Leach on life with Vito Coppola: ‘We’re taking baby steps’

The soap star and Strictly favourite talks to Closer about body confidence, reaching the final and getting close to partner Vito Coppola

Ellie

by Closer Staff |
Published on

Rumours have reached fever pitch in recent weeks over Ellie Leach and her Strictly dance partner Vito Coppola’s relationship status after their sweet Instagram posts and sizzling dance-floor chemistry.

And while the star doesn’t go into detail over whether or not they’re officially a couple, Ellie, 22, tells Closer that Vito, 32, has brought out a side to her that she never knew existed.

She says, “I’m having the best time with Vito. Not only is he teaching me about dance, but he’s teaching me a lot about myself. He is very patient, and he knows that when he pushes me, I can do things. Sometimes I don’t believe in myself, and he believes in me.

Ellie and vito
Ellie and vito ©getty

“I’ve always struggled a little bit with confidence but he is like, ‘You can do this!’ I didn’t know I had that sass. That’s the side I didn’t realise that I had!” she adds.

Ellie first rose to fame on Coronation Street, appearing as schoolgirl Faye Windass on the ITV soap back in 2011, before she left the show earlier this year. The character saw Ellie take on hard-hitting storylines such as teenage pregnancy and early menopause, landing her several award nominations for her onscreen portrayal.

While most of her personal life stays hidden off-camera, the star recently revealed that she’d split from her ex-boyfriend of five years Reagan Pettman back in May.

Ellie and vito
Ellie and Vito are having fun ©bbc

Sharing how her heartbreak was spurring her forward in the dance competition, Ellie previously said, “Being cheated on was upsetting, but now it’s the perfect time to put my all into Strictly and give that 500 per cent.”

And now, Ellie says it’s been great to bring out her sexier side on screen. She says, “For so long, I played a character who lived in a school uniform. The fact that I can use the costumes, the hair and the make-up, I do feel like it’s bringing me out of my shell. It’s nice that people can see me for me now.”

Ellie has previously spoken about struggling with body confidence – candidly sharing “As an actor, people don’t see that [you might be struggling with insecurities.] They think you’re this confident person and you can do anything.”

But Ellie reveals that dancing on Strictly each week has left her feeling amazing. She says, “Body confidence is something I’ve always really struggled with. As a young woman growing up in the public eye, it’s intense. Strictly has given me a newfound confidence that I’ve never really had before. When you’re all dressed up with the costumes on, and your hair and make-up done, you feel great, and you go out there and smash it. It just feels amazing.”

Ellie and vito
Vitos instagram post started romance rumours ©bbc

She adds of the intense training regime, “We train really hard, from nine till six every day. I’ve never really done much activity before, so I’m seeing my body changing. Vito’s keeping me snacked up – we always have food on hand."

Vito and Ellie have been wowing viewers with their impressive routines – with fans of the show quick to comment on the couple’s dance-floor charisma. After Vito lovingly called Ellie “my baby” in a sweet Instagram post, former contestant Amanda Abbington commented, “You are the most beautiful couple” – leading to rumours of a backstage romance.

Professional dancer Vito is also currently single after splitting from ex-girlfriend Arisa last year, who he won the Italian version of Strictly with in 2021.

vito on Italian strictly
Vito split from Arisa last year ©getty

But while the pair refuse to address the rumours directly, the’ve been happy to let their dancing do the talking and are regularly topping the leaderboards. Having received three 10s from the judges in week seven and being called ‘finalist material’ by head judge Shirley Ballas, 63, Ellie’s already a fan favourite to make it all the way.

She says, “Every week we just rehearse so that we can give our best. To hear the finalist word, we were shocked! It’s not something you expect at all. But we’re taking baby steps. It’s day by day, hour by hour. It’s already going so fast, and if you think too much about the next step, you miss what’s happening right now.”

She adds, “It’s crazy that people are saying I’m the one to watch, it’s a lot of pressure! I am really happy that people can see I’m putting my best into it. Hopefully we’ll progress every week. The main thing is we go out there and enjoy ourselves.”

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