May 02, 2021
In her early days with the girl band, Pinnock felt invisible and couldn’t understand why. Then the role of race became clear
Leigh-Anne Pinnock of Little Mix: ‘Being Black is my power. I want young Black girls to see that’
Leigh-Anne Pinnock has been living the pop star dream ever since she was 19 and stepped on to a stage to audition for The X Factor, singing Rihanna’s Only Girl (In the World). She has now spent almost a decade in one of the UK’s biggest girl groups. But she had a difficult start with Little Mix, and not because she didn’t get on with her bandmates. She felt “invisible”, and would regularly cry in front of her manager. “I just couldn’t seem to find my place, and didn’t know why,” she said in a magazine interview in 2018. “I didn’t feel like I had as many fans as the other girls. It was a strange feeling.” She had, at that point, finally realised what the trouble was. “I know there are girls of colour out there who have felt the same as me,” she said. “We have a massive problem with racism, which is built into our society.”
If she expected the interview to change anything, she was disappointed. “I really did feel as if it fell on closed ears,” she says today, speaking from the Surrey mansion she shares with her footballer fiance, Andre Gray. “It was almost like people just weren’t ready to talk about race then.”
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