Leigh-Anne Pinnock has bravely opened up about racism within the music industry and the UK.
The Little Mix singer has revealed how racism has “ruined” her decade-long career in the group and made her question whether she only landed a position in the chart-toppers to be the “token black girl”.
The 29-year-old honestly opens up on her doubts and feelings in a new BBC documentary called Leigh-Anne: Race, Pop & Power.
In it, she admits to feeling “lost and invisible”. She is seen emotionally talking to her mum Deborah, who is half Bajan, and her dad John, who is half Jamaican, and says: “You’d be like, ‘Look where you are, you’re still earning the same money’.
“But I was carrying a lot — never, ever feeling good enough.
“I feel like it ruined a lot of my experience, which should have been the best time of my life. It’s f***ing frustrating.”
And she has confessed that she always felt like she was the least popular member of the award-winning group because of her race.
Leigh-Anne, Jesy Nelson, Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall were perfectly matched together in 2011 on talent show The X Factor.
Leigh-Anne spoke about how an encounter with a group of fans early on made her realise she was different.
“We did a radio tour,” she said. “We got off the plane and there were some fans waiting for us and I was the first to walk up to them.
“They just walked past me and went up to the other girls.
“It was so weird. It was never like it was someone racially abusing me, but it was little things that happened regularly.”
She continued to say it was the little things that continued happening and kept building up.
“And you can’t pretend it’s not happening, feeling invisible, feeling that people would just look past me.”
Leigh-Anne also says that while she understands and is grateful for all the positives in her life, such as her career, her fiancé and her home, the feeling of hurt “just doesn’t go away”.
She added: “It keeps hurting and hurting. And wondering, ‘Is it my colour?’
“All these questions. Pushing myself constantly to do better. I just wanted to be on the same level and nothing I did would get me there.”
Throughout the documentary, the singer discusses the issues with singers who have been through similar experiences, including Alexandra Burke and Sugababes singer Keisha Buchanan.
And it leads to Keisha and Leigh-Anne discussing whether or not Leigh-Anne was chosen to be in Little Mix because of the colour of her skin – something Keisha believes to be the case.
Leigh-Anne said: “I’m still struggling to talk about it in general. So the fact that it comes down to the token black girl — you do see it in other girlbands.
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“It’s like a . . . not a trend, but it’s happened so often. It really does make me think, ‘If I was shades darker, would I be sat here right now?’ I don’t know.”
Leigh-Anne has recently set up her non-profit organisation The Black Fund which helps to finance internships and mentorships for black people in the creative industries.
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