Ally Brooke, former member of Fifth Harmony, revealed that her time with the girl group was "traumatising" and rife with toxicity. She also claimed that she was mentally and verbally abused by several staff members and executives at the record label.
"It was a whirlwind. I'm going to say how proud I am of Fifth Harmony, of what we did, of what we did for music, what we did for female empowerment, what we did for girl groups," 27-year-old Brooke said on the debut episode of her podcast The Ally Brooke Show. "We will be in the history books, y'all."
"But I hate saying this: My time in Fifth Harmony, I didn't enjoy it. I didn't love it," she continued. "It was hard because there was so much going on. So much behind the scenes, so much toxicity, so much abuse, so much about of power, so much mental abuse, verbal abuse, and it's just horrible and to me, it's a shame because we were so big. I should have enjoyed myself more."
Fifth Harmony was assembled together on the American version of The X Factor in 2012, and signed a joint record deal with show judge Simon Cowell's label Syco Records and L.A. Reid's label Epic Records. The group — Brooke, Normani, Camila Cabello, Lauren Jauregui, and Dinah Jane — released a handful of hits, including 2015's "Worth It" and 2016's "Work From Home." However, the group first began to fracture when Cabello left the group to pursue a solo career. In 2018, the Fifth Harmony announced that they would be taking an indefinite hiatus, which essentially amounted to them disbanding for good and each going solo in some capacity.
Brooke also said that certain people at her former label made the women feel "inferior" and "uncomfortable." As an example, she specifically described a time in which she looked to an executive for help when she felt Fifth Harmony was "breaking," and instead of giving her support she alleged that he sexually harassed her.
"I show up to meet with him and he gives me a freaking thong," she said. "I know what he was trying to do. I was humiliated. I was going there super vulnerable [asking for help]... At the time, that behaviour was accepted."
She said that it's for these reasons that she doesn't like reflecting on her time in the band, because as much as she felt like the "mom" and responsible for her fellow members, she often felt "helpless" and "hopeless."
"There's a weird balance of being grateful and being okay with the fact that things were not okay for me," she added. "It was traumatising."
She also said that she felt shamed by the label and the media for her body — often getting categorised as the "big one" — and her voice, explaining that she and the women had to "fight for [their] lives" to get important singing parts on Fifth Harmony songs. "Later on, it did get better and in some moments, there were moments for me to shine and feel like I could contribute but that was really, really hard. That takes a toll on your confidence."
Unfortunately, the singer says that much of her good experiences in the group are clouded by the negative. "I'll look at a music video and all I'll remember is how I felt that day. How I felt super insecure, or how I felt let down or how I felt like I wasn't good enough," she said. "People around me told me that I wasn't good enough, I wasn't cool enough, I wasn't valued, nobody cared about me. It was awful but I also try to remember the good times."
Refinery29 reached out to Syco Records and Epic Records for comment.