SWAG, SASS & SOUL. She’s definitely worth it.
words by MICHELLE GANNEY
photos by WILLIAM CALLAN
With so many gifted artists thriving in the music business, it is hard for any talent to break the mold–unless you’re Fifth Harmony of course. Normani makes up one-fifth of this girl band phenomena, put together by none other than music mogul Simon Cowell. This sassy starlet has strutted her stuff on stage to an arena full of dedicated Harmonizers since 2012 and, despite her unrivalled commitment to Fifth Harmony, there are many more talents this beauty has up her sleeve. From her close bond with One Direction to her dream collaborator, Nicki Minaj, it seems there are no limits for this ambitious firecracker.
BELLO mag: What was your BELLO mag photo shoot like?
Normani Kordei: I had the most amazing time shooting with BELLO. I love to surround myself with positivity and talented people, which is just what I got on that day. I’m appreciative that they were able to capture moments that represented who I am. I believe that style is a form of expression and a voice for many. I am often told that I am a chameleon due to me being adventurous and never limiting myself from all fashion.
BM: Obviously Fifth harmony was formed on The X Factor USA. Did you ever think about being in a girl band before that?
NK: I remember dreaming of being in a girl group for as long as I can remember. I was influenced musically by nothing but girl groups growing up. I loved Destiny’s Child, En Vogue, SWV, Xscape, TLC, Spice Girls, Danity Kane, the Pussycat Dolls and of course, the Cheetah Girls. I really thank these women for opening the doors for the future for me and my bandmates. I noticed that this industry was typically male-dominated but women are taking lead in such a powerful way. It fills my heart seeing successful females. I specifically remember being in my grandmother’s living room with my three best friends at the age of six learning the “Cater 2 You” routine by Destiny’s Child. I never wanted anything more but to be in a girl group. My parents must have heard it about a hundred thousand times.
BM: What was the highlight of your experience on The X Factor?
NK: I feel that the show prepared us to some extent for the real world of the music industry. I learned more and more each day. I also found myself within this journey and realized that I was stronger than I had thought or even given myself credit for which I find very rewarding.
BM: What was Simon Cowell like as your mentor?
NK: I’m beyond grateful that we were able to have Simon as our mentor. I love who he is and his passion for people and their well-being. He really encouraged us to take charge in our projects. He loves to hear our input and honest thoughts. It amazes me that he is so receptive and open-minded for such a prestigious man that is successful at all he does. We are constantly reminded of how proud he is and his belief in us. I am thankful to him for creating Fifth Harmony.
BM: Your new single ‘Worth It’ has been on the Billboard’s Top 100 chart for 26 weeks! Did you know it would be this popular and garner this much attention?
NK: I had no idea that “Worth It” would be our most successful single and hit to date. I remember the first time jamming out to it in the studio with the producer Stargate but little did we know how high it would soar. The concept was originally created for a male but we lyrically made changes and placed it into a female’s perspective. I really believe that the song captured a much wider demographic outside of our core fan base. It is always a good feeling when the music you’ve worked so hard on is received positively. I love performing this song live.
BM: It must have been such an honor when Zayn retweeted that ‘Worth It’ was the best single on Twitter. What’s your relationship like with One Direction?
NK: I was stoked when I witnessed the retweet. It’s the most amazing feeling knowing that your peers like your music. We have a fantastic relationship with the guys especially with us having the common thread of The X Factor. I remember while being on the show them coming to visit and giving us words of wisdom. Harry told us to always put one another first and protect each other. I find that a lot of people in the music industry only tell you whatever it is they think you want to hear and aren’t necessarily looking out for your best interest. Whatever hurdle may come our way we are suppose to proceed as one unit and overcome it. I’m a supporter of One Direction and of them each individually as people. They are a phenomenon and their music will live on forever. I was in the UK for my birthday and we all got to hangout that night. I had the best time.
BM: You’ve mentioned in the past that Beyoncé is an inspiration of yours. What other artists do you look up to?
NK: I also look up to Jhené Aiko. I love the vibe of her music and lyrical content. I feel every word she sings. I think that music with a message is always most important . Chris Brown has been a huge influence to me as an artist. I look back at myself being nine years old watching his music videos on YouTube over and over again. I was captivated by his talent and work ethic. I love that he is able to wear many different hats. He is a vocalist, dancer, actor, video director, writer and entrepreneur all in one. He’s in control of his career and that’s why everything comes across to be very authentic. I adore him. I always call these next three my queens that continuously slay my entire existence. Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna. I can’t explain how much of an impact they have had on me as a human and musically. I am inspired everyday and learn so much from these women. I am blessed to be able to see three women of color dominate at the same time and support one another. I reflect on their careers in hopes to be just as successful. I love them to no end and anytime anyone says something negative about them I get super defensive. I adore Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Jennifer Lopez. I’m a huge fan of the 90s and always say that I wish I was old enough during that time to fully appreciate the music then. A few of favourite artists were at their prime around that time. I’m inspired by Aaliyah, Monica, Brandy, TLC, Toni Braxton and Tamia. I couldn’t just choose a couple because I’m constantly inspired and motivated by many each and everyday.
BM: Who is your dream artist to collaborate with in the future?
NK: I’m going to choose one of many. At this moment in my career I think that collaborating with Nicki Minaj is 1,000 percent necessary. I guarantee we would create magic. I’m all about women being empowered in doing something greater than them. I believe that she is the person to do just that. She often talks about equality and equal rights, which is extremely important to me. I find it admirable seeing a successful woman using her platform with intentions of helping many people, bringing awareness and acting upon them. I love her to pieces. I had a mini heart attack when she followed me on Twitter. I don’t know, maybe I’ll slide into her DMs and present the idea of a collaboration with Fifth Harmony.
BM: You’ve also said that acting is a passion of yours. When do you think you’ll explore that option more?
NK: I think that Fifth Harmony is slowly approaching a place in our careers to have a bit more freedom individually to explore our other interest and passions. I have every intention of making a crossover into the acting world just as I have established myself in the music industry. I just want to be able to purchase a movie ticket, get my popcorn, walk in and hear a Fifth Harmony hit play throughout the previews and next thing you know I’m watching myself on the big screen beside my costar Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games. I definitely just took the opportunity that I had in the last sentence to make it known that I would love to be in that film (laughs). I have much respect for the other four girls that helped me get to the place that I am in now. I’m grateful and will continue to let everyone know how grateful I am. I have aspirations outside of the group but Fifth Harmony is my number one priority.
BM: Which female actors do you aspire to be?
NK: Zoe Saldana, Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, Gabrielle Union, Angela Bassett, Emma Stone, Emma Watson, Taraji P. Henson, Jessica Alba, Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston, Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o, Rachel McAdams, Jennifer Lawrence and Kerry Washington. These are all inspiring women and have been the leading ladies in many fantastic films which is what I dream of accomplishing one day doing.
photography WILLIAM CALLAN www.williamcallan.com
stylist KYLE KAGAMIDA www.kagamidastyling.com
makeup BRANDY ALLEN FOR M.A.C. COSMETICS/EPIPHANY ARTIST GROUP, INC.
hair TIFFANY DAUGHERTY FOR EPIPHANY ARTIST GROUP, INC.
manicurist ALLISON BURNS at CROSBY CARTER MANAGEMENT
video ARNO DIEM www.arnodiem.com
creative director WARREN ALFIE BAKER www.warrenalfiebaker.com
special thatnks to CHAD SCHOLLMEYER and HQ AVALON STUDIOS www.hqavalonstudios.com
Production Bello Media Group