Layton Williams opens up about being kicked out of private school

Strictly Come Dancing star Layton Williams has opened up about his experience of being asked to leave private school.

The 29-year-old from Bury was awarded a scholarship to attend the Sylvia Young theatre school while he starred as the first Black lead in Billy Elliot. He was then cast as Michael Jackson in Thriller Live, and appeared in the BBC comedy-drama Beautiful People.

As the Bad Education actor attended classes during the day and starred on stage in the evening, he would often find himself in trouble at school.

In a new interview with the i Newspaper, Williams said: “Take a boy from a normal school in Bury and put them in a private school setting... I was not ‘naughty’ at my high school, but in private school suddenly I’m loud, I’m all of these things.”

He added that his personality appeared to cause trouble at the school until he was eventually thrown out.

“I’ve made peace with it now,” he continued. “But sometimes you’ve just got to let these kids be. I was at theatre school for goodness sake. I got asked to leave.”

He went back to live in Bury with his grandfather, where he said he struggled to fit in.

“I had to go back to my normal school and try and fit back in,” he said, explaining that he was forced to hide his queer identity again, after coming out as gay in London. “It was super tough.”

The finalists of ‘Strictly’ 2023 (BBC/Guy Levy)
The finalists of ‘Strictly’ 2023 (BBC/Guy Levy)

In the 2023 season of Strictly Come Dancing, Williams finished second with his dance partner and Celebrity Big Brother finalist Nikita Kuzman, after Vito Coppola and Ellie Leach took home the crown. When he was initially announced as a contestant, many fans of the show called out his appointment due to his previous dance experience.

It was repeatedly suggested that Williams had an unfair advantage due to his prior musical theatre work. The actor defended himself against the criticism on multiple occasions.

“I’ve taken it on the chin; I get what everyone’s saying,” he said in an interview with The Guardian, adding: “But if you could be a fly on the wall in this rehearsal room, it’s not easy for me.”

Williams also urged those trolling him online to put their efforts into something more positive. In October last year, he wrote on social media: “Instead of coming at me with hateful comments, use your energy to shower your fave celeb with love instead. Pretty sure it will make us all feel much better!”

This year’s Strictly launch show will be recorded in September 2024, with an exact date yet to be confirmed.