Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui on Her Cultural Identity and Self Confidence: ‘I Love Who I Am’ (Exclusive)

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The 21-year-old singer explains how she’s using her global platform to encourage social change.

Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui is committed to using her global platform for good.

The 21-year-old singer was thrust into the limelight as a teenager after competing in the second season of the X Factor, where Simon Cowell created the female group Fifth Harmony, changing Jauregui’s life forever.  

Over the years, Jauregui has blossomed into a fierce young lady. And, she’s using her social media presence to share her life experiences with fans.  

ET spoke with Jauregui earlier this month, where she opened up about the ups and down of fame, her cultural identity and the importance of self confidence in an industry that’s increasingly hard to navigate.

Born in Miami, Florida, to Cuban parents, Jauregui says she never felt the need to defend her cultural identity, but that changed the moment she reached stardom.

“I've had to deal with not being white enough for white people and not being Latin enough for Latin people,” she explained.

Earlier this month, Jaurequi found herself at the center of an opinion piece published by a radio station in Spain, which questioned her identity as a Latina. Dismayed by the comments, she took to Twitter to address the radio station’s remarks.

“Nobody can tell me what my roots are,” she wrote. “And you can’t tell me that I can’t identify as one.”

“I'm very fair-skinned with light eyes. At first glance, almost everyone assumes I am purely white,” she told ET, adding that she’s had to deal with people “telling me what my roots are or what I am allowed to claim about myself and my own history.”

“All of us are immigrants,” she continued. “All of us came to this country from somewhere else and I can trace my lineage back to Cuba and Spain. All I know is that I was born and raised in Miami, Florida, to a Cuban family. I spoke Spanish before I went to school [as a child]. [I] speak it with all of my family members in my household.”

Despite the unfounded criticism, Jauregui says she doesn't let it weigh her down. “I love who I am and where my family comes from,” she shared. “I never questioned my heritage, I never questioned whether or not I was Cuban or could identify as such until I gained a wider audience and attention.”

Jauregui, who was 16 years old when she joined Fifth Harmony, says that as a Latino artist she feels a sense of responsibility to help her community.

“All artists of Latino descent [can] have a social and cultural impact [on society],” she said. “[When] people see themselves represented, [it allows] them to truly follow their dreams despite the obstacles that routinely get in the way.”

“The word role model is quite an intense term,” she continued. “When one has the amount of influence and platform that we do, there is a sense of responsibility, to educate and share the knowledge I gain about the world as I grow.”

“Being able to effectively reach millions of people has a staggering impact,” she added. “The arts have always been a way humans connect and make sense of the world around them. There is no such thing as perfection but there is the drive to be better and do better for yourself and those around you. If I can help convey that message, then I’ve done my job as a ‘role model.’”

Inspired by artists like Marc Anthony, Maná, Juanes and Shakira, Jauregui says that it’s their ability to be authentic that she resonates with. “Young Shakira especially gets me,’ she added. “When she was in her alternative singer-songwriter phase.”

Currently on tour with Fifth Harmony, which is down to four members after Camila Cabello exited the group earlier this year, Jauregui hopes that her experiences help others grow.

“My main piece of advice that I'll leave here is to get to know yourself,” she shared. “Truly confront the true you. It will be painful and you will lose parts of yourself you thought you needed to hold onto. Let them go. You'll find your purpose.”

“We need more people with purpose and passion,” she concluded.

For more on Jauregui and Fifth Harmony, watch the video below.