Normani Talks Fifth Harmony Exit and Not Compromising Herself in Her Work

Normani has found all the motivation she needs in order to stay true to herself.

At age 23, the former Fifth Harmony member is poised to take over the music world with a newfound confidence — one she said she didn’t possess when she was part of the hit-making girl group that thrust her into the spotlight.

“I remember always being asked, ‘Why do you wanna be in a girl group? So you can hide?’ — and that’s exactly what I was trying to do,” Normani told Cosmopolitan in her December/January cover story.

She added: “I’m not sure what that turning point was, but I was like, ‘Normani is enough. You can be on-stage and perform and you can be enough.’”

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Normani departed from Fifth Harmony last year after six years of singing beside other members Camila Cabello, Ally Brooke, Lauren Jauregui and Dinah Jane. Amid her leap to a solo career, she told PEOPLE it was a “good time” to find her own footing.

“I think that we owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to each other, to create that space of freedom to truly figure out who we are individually,” she said at the time. “You guys have only seen a fraction of me, and I’ve only gotten to know a fraction of who I am.”

New fans and Fifth Harmony holdovers saw Normani come into her own when she released the music video in August for her single “Motivation.” While channeling pop legends like Beyoncé and Britney Spears, the singer put her own dance-heavy flare on the video.

RELATED: Normani Honors Some 2000s Pop Icons Including Beyoncé with Her New Music Video — Watch

The release not only captured the attention of the internet with her instantly iconic chain-link fence twerking routine and her rain-soaked dance number, but her clear homage to African American culture in entertainment.

“I told the director, ‘I want this to be as black as possible,’” she told Cosmo. “I was like, let’s show black culture. Why does pop music have to be so white? Why don’t we make it a little bit more me?”

Born in Atlanta, Normani takes a page out of the books of stars who blazed trails for her (she cites names like Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, to name a few) — and she hopes to add a few chapters to that historical record, as well, with each project she takes on.

“Those women before me, I wanna finish what they started,” she told Cosmo. “I’m gonna make whatever I do black. … You’ll know that I’m a black girl, even if it’s on the quote unquote ‘whitest record ever.’”

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