Little Mix star Jade Thirlwall has said she used to be “ashamed” of her mixed-race heritage after being bullied at school, and says she did not talk about it publicly when she joined the band because she feared “not being as popular”.
The 27-year-old pop star’s maternal grandfather is from Yemen and her maternal grandmother is from Egypt, while her father is white. Having been in the public eye since she was 18, when Little Mix won X Factor in 2011, she says she is now more educated about race issues but is still “constantly learning”.
Speaking on the No Country For Young Women podcast, Thirlwall, from South Shields in Tyne and Wear, said she had previously felt “ashamed” of her background.
“I think because I was bullied quite badly in school because of the colour of my skin and for being Arab I wasn’t very proud of who I was,” she said.
“I think when I then entered the group I subconsciously didn’t want to talk about my heritage or what my background was in fear of not being as popular, which sounds awful to say but I was only 18 years old and through years of being ashamed of who I was I found it quite hard to talk about it.
“I think it was through a lack of education as well. Even now I am constantly learning what the right things are to say and I would hate to talk about my race and my heritage and not say the right things.”