Leigh-Anne: Race, Pop & Power – What We Learnt

The documentary offers some important lessons we all need to hear.

Little Mix star, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, released a documentary with the BBC to discuss racism within the creative industries.

The documentary was aired on BBC on Thursday 13th May. It discusses how the industry treats black female artists as Leigh-Anne shares her own experiences. 

At the start, Leigh-Anne says that as a child her only experience of racism was in primary school when a boy wrote her a note saying she was from the jungle. 

She said: “I was devastated. I’d never been made to feel like I didn’t belong before.”

That feeling appeared a decade later when she joined Little Mix. 

Leigh-Anne voiced that she felt her colour was being used to define her image within the group. Experiences within the industry and encounters with fans began to build up over time and got her questioning whether her race was a factor. 

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What were the key lessons in the documentary?

A defining moment in the documentary was when Leigh-Anne speaks about the show they did in Brazil. The crowd screamed her name. She said that there were so many black people in the audience. She said: “I had never felt so accepted.” This was the moment she realised that her race was a factor in how she had been feeling. 

“I feel like I do have responsibility to speak out.” This was an important lesson in the documentary, that if people start talking about their experiences and calling on those with the power to make change then it might start to make a difference. 

Within the documentary, Leigh-Anne meets with other black female artists to talk about their experiences within the industry. The idea of unconscious racism is brought up. People don’t always understand what they are saying. This once again reinforces the importance of education. We need to take responsibility for educating ourselves. 

Another disheartening moment takes place when singer Alexandra Burke talks about how she was told to bleach her skin so that she would sell records. This should not be happening within the music industry. This teaches us that more representation is needed, not just in music but also within magazines, on TV and in everyday life. 

Leigh-Anne said: “If I was a few shades darker would I be sat here right now? I don’t know.” To think that a little factor such as skin colour could possibly affect your success in the industry.

Leigh-Anne herself, raised the fact that she knew when she decided to film the documentary that there would be a backlash, being a mixed race woman. Racism is racism. Her experiences are still real and valid. People need to stop attacking others who are brave enough to speak out.

Why we needed this documentary

While the documentary was eye-opening and informative it was also looking to push for change and initiate action. We saw Leigh-Anne persisting to set up a meeting with the people of greatest power within her music label. 

This action and strength to push for change, even if it could backfire on her own career, was powerful. Demonstrating that even if by speaking up we put ourselves in a tricky situation we need to realise that the cause we are fighting for is more important.

Since then, Leigh-Anne has introduced ‘The Black Fund’. A charity that has been set up to support other existing charities and community groups to support the black community. 

The documentary is available on BBC iPlayer now.

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Tags: Leigh anne pinnock, little mix, race

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Anoop Bhuller
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I have a passion for magazines and enjoy writing about topics ranging from music reviews to travel articles. This comes from me being a massive pop and grime music lover. As well as being an outdoorsy girl who's favourite place is the beach!
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