Perhaps more than ever, artists are raising their voices on social media and using their platforms to speak out against some of the policies and actions of the current presidential administration. One performer who has been anything but shy on where she stands on the controversies coming out of the White House is Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui. The singer refuses to stay silent on the issues that matter to her, including race relations, the transgender military ban, attack on women’s rights and a number of other issues that have risen in the last year and a half.
Jauregui took a moment in between touring and promoting the group’s new album Fifth Harmony, due out Aug. 25, to hop on the phone with Complex to talk about everything from when she felt like she needed to start using her voice to how she stays on track when negativity tries to wear her down. I’d give more of an introduction, but the conversation truly speaks for itself.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
At what point did you know that you needed to use your voice and be active on social?
The turn where I was like “I really need to do this” came at the beginning of the campaign. When I first found out that Donald Trump was even eligible to be President of the United States, I was like, “Holy shit, I need to pay attention. What’s happening here? What’s going on? Where is America really, in terms of what we believe and awareness?” I have a few million followers…if I’ve got all these young people watching me and caring about what I have to say, I should say something important, because I’m so passionate about it—I’ve been writing about it since I was like 10. I thought, why not just say it out loud and have people read it and maybe learn something.
You’re reaching an audience that may not be exposed to politics as much, and when you tweet something, they read it and become informed.
Exactly, and that’s so important to me, because that’s how change really happens. I feel like art has been at the center of change since the beginning of time. If you connect with an artist because of what they make as a body of work, you feel like they’re your friend. You feel like you’re on the journey of connection with them because they see the world the same way you do. That’s so powerful and if you use that you can genuinely change minds. I feel like so many people in music and art have opened their eyes to the power they have as influences.
Who are some of the inspirations that you turn to if you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything?
Amandla Stenberg is so powerful in her energy and what she speaks about and what she projects, I think it’s incredible. Janelle Monae, Madonna, Bob Marley, John Lennon…a lot of people who came from the truth in their art and use their starpower to talk about the positive things and unite people. There are so many amazing influences in the arts, it’s crazy.
How has everything affected you creatively, especially in the midst of creating the Fifth Harmony album?
About a year and a half ago, when all of this started happening, I had to shut down my creative side because we weren’t really allowed to create. I was kind of in this cycle of just “do.” I started to wake up and be like “there’s so much more to life.” I really broke out of that box and was like. “I’m gonna do me, I’m gonna be me and will keep doing that.” The creative flow just kind of comes when you do that and on this album, all four of us were able to. We all went through a transformative moment where we got connected with ourselves and really woke up. We were like, “Okay, we need to be happy. We need to sing.” We have a song called “Bridges” on the album that alludes to everything going on right now and how we feel about it. It’s a really powerful message of positivity.
When we talk about this, we have to say “everything going on right now” because there are so many issues—there’s not one thing you can really nail it down to.
I think that it’s cause and effect. Everything is really rooted in one thing and that’s education and understanding the science of things. When you really break it down to the way the world works, we’re all little humans floating on a gas ball in the middle of space. That’s the reality of our situation. And we’ve created these concepts and constructs that move us away from that. When you really look at science, if two people fall on pavement, they’re both going to break bones because we’re all made up of the same shit. So how is it that we divide ourselves over things as silly as skin tone and gender? How are we being so primitive in this day and age with all the technology and advancements we speak of?
Exactly, and with something like Charlottesville last weekend, it was really difficult for me to wrap my head around that kind of hate.
I think a lot of us are in a place of shock because we didn’t realize what this man [Donald Trump] represents is all of that. He’s been inciting these things and instigating them and being indifferent about things that are super important to the way that we treat each other. We picked him as a leader and when people look at a leader, they look at influence. His influence has literally incited neo-Nazism and all of these crazy things that we didn’t think could have a resurgence. We disconnected ourselves so much from history and how immediate it was that we have lost touch with what’s right and what’s wrong. We keep talking about, “Wow, this is so crazy that this is happening” but no no, this is the way it goes. History repeats because we forget and we don’t move forward socially. We’re too worried about money and paychecks and advancing those things to focus on who we are as humans.
I feel like history is either forgotten or rewritten.
Exactly, which is what’s happening right now—like when Trump barely acknowledged Jewish people on Holocaust Remembrance Day. How are you gonna do that? Just like how are you going to deny global warming? How are you going to deny to the public that scientific facts are real when you’re the leader? It’s misinformation and the fact that his whole entire staff is sent out to spit out lies to people is just disgusting.
Well that’s why I feel like the way you use your voice on social media is so important, especially being that you’re in one of the biggest pop groups in the world right now.
I feel like all four of us are really powerful in our messages, what we speak about and what we are about. We're all really passionate and we voice it in our own way and we all come from a loving place and see from the same perspective which is why I feel so blessed to be part of this group. We’re all women of color, we’re all different ethnicities. I’m Cuban-American, Ally’s Mexican-American, Normani is African-American, Dinah is Polynesian. We all have different cultures and heritages in our blood and to see so many people look up to us…that makes me so motivated. I genuinely feel like I was given this gift from God and all I need to do is speak and make my art.
Is there anything else you want to add or that you want people to know?
Check yourself and make sure that when you look in the mirror, the person that you’re talking to is who you’re preaching about being. That you’re actively doing what you’re talking about and trying to make sure that the change really does happen.