Ally Brooke on Hitting 'Rock Bottom' and Almost Quitting Fifth Harmony (Exclusive)
By Antoinette Bueno
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Ally Brooke is opening up about feeling like she was "losing her identity" while reaching worldwide fame as part of Fifth Harmony.
ET's Deidre Behar spoke to the 27-year-old singer about her new memoir, Finding Your Harmony -- out now -- and she spoke about having to fight for singing parts while in the girl group, which included Camila Cabello, Normani, Lauren Jauregui and Dinah Jane. Brooke says it was producers, writers and higher-ups at the band's label that made the decisions.
"You know, it was really hard being in that position," she reflects. "And I open up about it pretty candidly [in my book] that I am so grateful to be in this group and I want us to succeed. I want us to take over the world and we are. You know, slowly but surely, I mean, also pretty quickly, we did. And that was so incredible, and such an experience. And a one in, you know, a million chance -- especially for girl groups. So, taking that excitement and joy, but also feeling like I was losing my identity. And not being able to use my voice. That was so heartbreaking for me. Especially because my parents and I had worked on a dream for so long and all that I wanted was, you know, I know not every song can be perfectly fair, equal. Of course not. But, you know, for it to have been better than it was for the first few albums."
"And you know what, I had to get through it," she continues. "Take the good with the bad and try to be positive and be strong. And I wish I would've spoken up a little bit more back then for several different things. But, you know what, everything happens for a reason and I'm so proud of our work. And we were able to create songs that are gonna last forever. And it did get better in the end. So, it's just a learning experience on many different levels."
Brooke spoke candidly about her serious struggles while in the chart-topping girl group.
"There was a lot happening behind the scenes and also, you know, I was faced with the pressure of being in the spotlight, and the crazy schedule," she shares. "And the social media ridicule ... and facing all of that and the unknown of, you know, just the future and missing your family and all of these different things. And again, not being heard. And, just people taking advantage of me. All that did get to a place where I was like, should I walk away? I definitely had moments of calling my parents and crying my eyes out and saying, 'Mom and Dad, I don't know if I can do one more day.' But I chose to stay, you know, and the group meant that much to me. And, you know, we also did so much together and had so much to do. So, everything happens for a reason and I... I did a lot for the group and I'm proud of our work, again. Seriously, with all the good and bad, I am grateful for Fifth Harmony and we are leaving a legacy."
Brooke says she reached her lowest point one night in a hotel room when she drank a lot of wine to "numb [her] pain."
"I just felt so low," she recalls. "I felt like there was no hope left. I felt worthless. I felt isolated. I felt alone. I felt afraid. I just felt like, like nothing would get better -- that I would never be happy and one thing led to another. And, you know, it's OK to have wine to, you know, relax or celebrate or, you know, 'Hey, I need a glass of wine cause it's been a long day.' That's totally fine. I do that. I mean, everybody does that. But I turned to wine for a really dark reason."
The 'Low Key' singer explains, "I ended up drinking and I was so inebriated that I could barely speak. I think that if I had one more I would've landed in the hospital. It was really, really bad." Thankfully, Brooke says Fifth Harmony's tour manager, Will Bracey, had a feeling something was wrong when she wasn't answering her phone so he got a key to her hotel room to check on her.
"He basically just rescued me and spoke life to me... and that moment was such a rock bottom for me, and I was embarrassed to admit it. But I knew I had to," Brooke laments. "There's so many people who feel like that today, and feel like hope is gone, and that could lead to such a destructive pattern that will ruin your life. I'm so thankful that only happened one time and [Will] came to get me."
Still, Brooke shares that before Fifth Harmony disbanded in 2018, she definitely did not want to throw in the towel.
"I wanted so badly for us to continue on," she says. "I also detail in the book there was other things, you know, other factors. We heard through management that our label was not gonna put out another album. And we were like, 'How are we gonna navigate that?' We would have to go find another label, all these things. And, you know, I'm like no, we ... there's a Christmas album left. There's one more album left. There's this tour... But, you know, not everybody felt that way. And I had to process that. And I had to ultimately respect that -- even though I didn't agree. And even though I was sad, and even like, a bit, you know, just disappointed, and even a bit angry. I had to let go of that and respect it."
Eventually, Brooke realized that she also wanted to be free to pursue her own goals.
"And once I did, the unbelievable feeling of, 'Oh my gosh, I'm gonna finally be able to pursue the dream that's been in my heart since I was a very young girl -- being a solo artist,' it was the most magical feeling," she says. "I could not have been more excited and wide-eyed and like, just this unbelievable joy. That was the most incredible feeling, and it felt like my life had just begun. It was hands-down one of the most amazing moments of my life."
Through it all, Brooke had the unwavering support of her parents, as well as her faith, to rely on.
"They wanted me to be happy," she says of her parents. "And my mental health was so important -- way more important than, you know, a paycheck, or an obligation or following someone else's rules. ... You know, in life, you're gonna have good and bad. You're gonna have your storms. And for me just holding on to my faith, even in those really hard moments, those dark times, that's what got me through everything. And, again, like, I know I'm young, but I've been through so much. And I know girls go through what I went through on such different levels. And just sharing that message that you can get through it and you can, again, see that rising sun. And you can get to a place where you're fully happy, and you're living your best life, and you're making the right choices for yourself and empowering people, encouraging people. That's the most beautiful thing."
Brooke says her parents definitely helped her with her new memoir, which focuses on her journey to fame and how she has remained true to her beliefs through her most difficult moments.
"They know everything that took place in there," she says. "So, they know all the highs and lows of my life and they're so proud and my dad just cried several times seeing the love in those pages and just seeing how much we also have just overcome as a family and what God has done -- what He's delivered us from. The miracles He's performed in our lives. And that's something that's so beautiful that you can't really put into words what that means."
Brooke says she thinks her fellow Fifth Harmony members will be happy for her when it comes to her new book.
"I haven't heard anything yet but man, I know they're so proud and we support each other whenever we can and that's the best thing," she says. "And everybody honestly right now is just on their own and living their own dreams and their own lives and that's what's really, really awesome about us."
These days, fans are excited about the rebirth of Brooke as a solo artist. She is also shooting her very first film called High Expectations, which stars Kelsey Grammer and is about a young soccer player’s journey for redemption.
"It's beyond special and so incredible ... and it's a dream come true," she says of filming in Atlanta, Georgia. "It's my first film and something I wanted to do since I was 12 years old, so I am just totally enamored."
"I'm just completely, just my jaw's to the floor that I'm going to be working with Kelsey Grammer," she adds. "He is such a legend and such an incredible actor and talent and I'm just completely honored. So, I've been shooting here for about a month already. My character's name is Sophia and she's so grounded and so strong and she just has this amazing spirit, and I don't want to give too much away. But she's inspiring me every day -- and she's different. You're definitely gonna see a different side of me and I'm so excited to show this."