Fifth Harmony’s Normani Kordei made a profound statement on “Dancing With the Stars” last week when she danced to the song "Freedom" by Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton – receiving a perfect score – and opened up about being cyber-bullied.
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The 20-year-old pop singer revealed on “DWTS” that she was “bullied terribly on social media” after she did a 2016 Facebook Live interview with the website Galore, in which she paused before saying her fellow bandmate Camila Cabello is “very quirky.” Some took that to be an insult, and Kordei received a wave of online backlash.
“I did an interview, it was taken out of context,” Kordei told ABC News’ “Nightline” during a sit down interview at at The Grove in Los Angeles. “There were images, people were calling me, like the ‘n’ word… I was getting racial slander. Images of me being whipped, hung, beaten and it really affected me.”
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Kordei said she was accused of being disrespectful, and when she apologized for the inadvertent offense, the online hatred only worsened.
“That’s the thing about social media, there’s no repercussions,” she said. “I feel like then I became more reserved and closed off person, and afraid of letting people in.”
The abuse became so bad that Kordei said she took a hiatus from all social media for two months, which was difficult for her.
“It’s part of my job,” she said. “It’s just part of who we are and how we communicate, so I just felt with me stepping away from social media for two whole months, my core fans, I felt I was neglecting them in a way.”
Kordei first rose to fame as a participant on the “The X Factor” in 2012. She then became one of the teen girls molded by famed music producer Simon Cowell to be a part of the all-female group Fifth Harmony. “Worth It” was their first big hit.
Most recently, Kordei has been a participant on “DWTS." It was her dance partner Val Chmerkovskiy who encouraged her to share her story, she said.
“The beauty is it [social media] gave a voice to everybody,” Chmerkovskiy said. “But the downside is it also gave a voice to everybody. And a lot of people don’t have the best intentions, for whatever reason.”
Kordei was raised in New Orleans and says she has dealt with bullies since she was young.
“I went to a predominantly white school and I stuck out because I was the black girl, but I would get teased for the color of my skin and wonder why,” she said. “I remember we were playing outside and the first thing this little girl would tell me was, ‘Leave me alone you burnt biscuit.’ … I mean, where do you get that from, especially being so young?”
After coming back on social media, Kordei said she continues to deal with hate from anonymous internet users every day.
“What I learned in how to deal with it is it has absolutely nothing to do about me,” she said. “It’s genuinely an insecurity that other people have in themselves. or something that they lack that you may have that they want… That’s why I can’t carry hate in my heart.”
She hopes her dancing every Monday night on “DWTS” will inspire others not to be afraid to be proud of who they are.
“I think that at the end of the day as humans we just need to be more sympathetic to each other,” she said.
ABC's Nick Watt contributed to this report