For some, fame can come with a downside, especially when you’re young. In the entertainment world, far too many musicians, singers and actors flame out before they even get started.
But Ally Brooke, who shot to stardom at age 18 as a member of the pop group Fifth Harmony, has navigated these pitfalls and now hopes to serve as an example to young people—especially girls—who are struggling to feel good in their own skin.
In her debut memoir, “Finding Your Harmony,” which will be released on October 13, Brooke takes us through her inspiring journey—from her premature birth, which caused permanent hearing sensitivity, to her early teen years struggling to make it while feeling like an outsider in Hollywood, to her improbable rise to fame in the singing competition “X Factor,” and finally the ups and downs of major-label success. All the while, Brooke leaned on the support of her close-knit Mexican American family and her strong faith in God.
“I feel like I’ve lived five lives,” Brooke said. “After all the experiences I’ve been through in this industry, battling insecurity and depression, I thought it was important to share my story with my fans to let them know that you can overcome so much and come out stronger.”
Though Brooke steered clear of drugs and other negative influences, she speaks candidly about feeling “body shamed” by fans and how that led her to drink herself sick one night in her hotel room. She questioned whether to include that story but decided that it was important for readers who may be turning to alcohol for comfort to know that that help is out there.
Along with the highs of playing to sold-out audiences and the thrill of seeing a Barbie doll made in her likeness, Brooke shares personal stories—the grief of losing one grandfather while sequestered in Los Angeles for the live portion of “X Factor” to the bittersweet moment when her mother reconciled with her other grandfather shortly before his death.
“One of the most beautiful experiences in my lifetime was seeing my mom and grandfather reconcile,” she said. “All those years of pain were gone in his last two weeks of life.”
Brooke speaks openly about her deep faith in God and her decision to save herself for marriage. By writing this book, Brooke hopes to open a dialogue with her young fans. She encourages mothers and daughters to read the book together because she believes it will help them to grow as close as she is with her own mom.
When it comes to the breakup of Fifth Harmony, Brooke said she had mixed emotions.
“I felt sad and unprepared and maybe even a little angry at the situation,” she said. “But, at the same time, after I processed the sadness, I also had unbelievable excitement that my solo dreams will finally happen.”
In March, Brooke embarked on her first headlining solo tour, but COVID-19 forced it to close after only a few shows. Despite her disappointment, she used the hiatus to rest, spend time with her family in San Antonio and write her memoir. She’s now in Atlanta filming her first feature, “High Expectations,” with Kelsey Grammer. Brooke hopes to continue making movies and looks forward to eventually resuming her tour.
Today, Brooke has legions of young fans. But when they read her book, they’ll probably notice a side to her that they haven’t seen before.
“I feel like people underestimate how much depth I have,” she said. “In the past, I was anti being vulnerable. I thought people would think I was weak. But it’s actually the opposite. I discovered that one of the biggest strengths is being vulnerable.”