Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock has opened up about her first experience of racism, explaining it when she was aged nine in primary school.
The singer was speaking out in Channel 4’s documentary The Talk alongside a number of Black celebrities, who also opened up about their personal experiences of racism. Joined by her parents, Leigh-Anne recalled the time a classmate told her she was “from the jungle”.
“In primary school, a boy wrote on a bit of paper, ‘Name: Leigh-Anne/Age: Nine/Nationality: Jungle’,” said Leigh-Anne. “I saw it, and my heart just dropped. I knew it racism. I was nine years old, I knew it was racism. I was just distraught by it.”
Marvin and Rochelle Humes, Ade Adepitan, Tinie Tempah, Emeli Sande, and Jordan and Ashley Banjo also took part in the documentary.
Leigh-Anne has previously spoken about her experiences with racism and how it impacted her time in the band, and her life in general.
In a powerful video shared on Instagram earlier this year, Leigh-Anne explained how “there comes a point in every Black human’s life, no matter how much money you have or what you have achieved, you realise racism does not exclude you” before touching on what that meant for her in Little Mix.
“Nine years ago, after joining Little Mix, I had the biggest awakening of my life. When we were filming ‘Wings’, we worked with [choreographer] Frank Gatson. He said to me, ‘You’re the Black girl, you have to work 10 times harder.’ Never in my life had someone told me I would need to work harder because of my race.”
“Later on, what Frank Gatson said made sense,” she continued. “I learned that the dream of being in the biggest girl band in the world came with its flaws and consequences. Consequences such as knowing about the existent underlined racism in the creative industries.”
She added, “My reality is all the times I felt invisible within my group. Part of me is fully aware that my experience would have been even harder to deal with had I been dark-skinned. Our reality is no matter how far you think you’ve come, racism exists.”
Leigh-Anne has also teamed up with BBC Three to make a documentary about racism in the UK, with a release date yet to be confirmed.
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