Leigh-Anne Pinnock, former Little Mix: “When I raised my voice (to fight racism)”

This article is published in issue 28-29 Vanity Fair On newsstands by July 19, 2023

“You black girl, you gotta work ten times harder”, When Leigh-Anne Pinnock he heard these exact words Choreographer Frank Gatson Jr., Beyoncé’s former artistic director, She thought two things: that he was a bit cruel and that no one had ever spoken to her like that, not even her parents. He, High Wycombe Englishwas 20 years old and was on the set of the Wings video, which was his first song Little Mix, the first girl band want to win in 2011 english version of X Factor which then basically will become very popular very quickly Millennial Version of the Spice Girls With a historic, prestigious Brit Award.

since then, even after Disbandment of the group in 2022 And solo debut with the single don’t say love – released in mid-June and immediately on the charts – Leigh-Anne Pinnock continues to work ten times harder. To achieve an ambitious, powerful goal: combat racial dynamics, in the world of music and beyond. “I don’t want the next pop star to feel like me.”

How does she feel?
“Sometimes aloof, sometimes foreign at home, sometimes invisible.”

You explain
« Racism is not being addressed by “only” a word that begins with the letter n or being insulted. There are silent, everyday forms. Racism happens on small things. I look around a set or a room and only see white people. Fans ignored me or greeted me with muffled applause, while the rest of the band didn’t: I understood that I didn’t get as much love. On the contrary, for the first time in Brazil, I was overwhelmed by the affection of people of my skin color.

The color of her skin used to define her status in Little Mix. That’s what he says in the BBC documentary Leigh-Anne: Race, Pop and PowerClear and enlightening analysis of what he suffered in the pop bubble.
“already a X Factor I dyed my hair red and shaved the sides to be the “Rihanna of the group”: He needed a black girl who was attractive. What a horror! It was equally terrifying that the color of my skin was questioned: Would it be better darker or not? Even colorism is a form of discrimination! Every day there was some sadness. I had a lot to process and tell…».

out of frustration when he asked for a meeting to deal with his former record company lack of diversity and put her in a room with the head of marketing: “two black women to solve the problem of racism”, toxic comments on social media such as: “black girl looks like a white girl and white girl a Looks like “black girl”.
“Actually, I can’t say which is the worst form of racism I’ve encountered, none in particular or more severe than all”.

What else does he do to fight them apart from telling them?
« I created a foundation: it’s called The Black Fund and in return it helps charities that support the black community. For example, last year we funded 11 of them related to mental health, because it is 100 per cent discrimination related.

Are you afraid that your children, almost two-year-old twins, will suffer from it?
“We live in a predominantly white area right now and I have heard so many stories of black kids being bullied at school, bullied, even bullied by teachers – it scares me. But I never stop building as much confidence in my kids as possible while at the same time trying to make them aware of who they are and about racism. I want them to be well educated, so that they never think they have limits.”

Do you want other kids?
“I am not thinking about it right now. But I will never say no. Being a mother is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me, a blessing.”

Is it hard to balance motherhood with being a 75 million selling pop star?
“I remember when there was a silly stigma surrounding female actors who got pregnant: They were labeled ‘.Not cool, We women can have kids and success at the same time, right? Of course, it’s not easy. As far as I’m concerned, I’m still looking for balance: One moment I’m in Los Angeles and another moment I’m in New York. Besides, my partner, actually my husband, plays in a Greek football team (Andre Gray, striker of Aris Thessaloniki, Ed), so he is often not at home. But it will not always be like this.

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Actually, you just got married. Congratulations!
“Thank you. This happened a month ago in Jamaica. I allowed myself three changes of clothes – one more than one wow – and a gospel choir sang as I walked down the aisle among relatives and friends .

Including former Little Mix?
«Z (thirlwallEd) has arrived».

With Perrie Edwards and Jesy Nelson the first to leave the group in 2020, are you out of touch?
“I talk to Perry often. We have been very close, we will never get rid of each other: we are a family ».

What do you miss most about being in a band?
“Brotherhood means supporting each other and laughing and joking in the group takes the pressure off”.

Is it scary to go out alone?
“Definitely. However, after being together for over eleven years, it was inevitable that we parted ways to showcase each other’s individual potential and address issues that were not important to all without compromise.

For example?
“What I’ve been through in my relationships, the struggles of motherhood, the success, the ups and downs — everything looks perfect on Instagram and nothing is.”

first solo single, don’t say loveTalks about the desire to find love.
“Within Little Mix and in my career I have felt neglected and undervalued, misunderstood and unheard. With this song I sing of the feeling of not looking for external validation anymore and regaining my confidence. In the video I dive into the water as a symbol of rebirth and getting rid of that pain.

What should we expect from the album?
“Honesty, Jurisdiction, and a mix of R&B, reggae, Afrobeat and a bit of garage. It will release in 2024.”

Have you always wanted to sing?
“Not just singing. Ever since I was little I said I wanted to be a pop star, even though I was shy, so shy, like I literally hid behind my dad and said I hated people. Things got a little better in high school, but I still remained a quiet person.

How was the first performance?
“If karaoke at my grandmother’s house on Boxing Day counted as a performance, it wasn’t bad. In public, however, it was worse: At school, the noise in the background was so loud I couldn’t be heard and my eyes were glued to the floor. I didn’t care, I got to the end anyway.”

Were your parents supportive of you or were they hoping for a different career for you?
“My mother wanted me to go to university, but my father encouraged any creative ventures I had.”

What if his children want to follow in his footsteps?
“I would love to. In fact, they can become whatever they want, the important thing is that they do it with infinite love.

Any honest advice for anyone dreaming of a career like yours?
“Two pieces of advice are: Never lose faith that that dream will come true and work really hard.” I believe belief in one’s talent is as indispensable as determination and spirit of sacrifice.

Will racism be overcome sooner or later?
“We must keep talking about it, raising our voices.” As I also said in the documentary: I’d rather say something or say nothing at all than say nothing at all.

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