Little Mix band member Leigh-Anne Pinnock has produced a documentary with the BBC, Leigh-Anne: Race, Pop and Power, in which she explores her feelings regarding her race, and the wider issue of racism in the music industry.
Pinnock is the only black member of the girl group, with Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirwall completing the trio. In the hour-long documentary she explores how her race has affected her life and career.
Pinnock revealed earlier this month that she and boyfriend Andre Gray are expecting their first child. While the child’s parents are both English, the grandparents are of Caribbean and African nationality.
So, what is her documentary about and how does she feel about the issue of racism in the UK and where can you watch it? This is what you need to know.
What is Leigh-Anne: Race, Pop and Power about?
The BBC documentary follows Pinnock as she speaks to other black musicians and artists who have experienced racism in the music industry.
It was filmed over the course of a year, in which the murder of George Floyd in the US sparked Black Lives Matter protests in the UK and opened up important conversations about racism.
The BBC premise for the documentary says: “Leigh-Anne talks about the racism she experienced growing up. Both her parents are of Caribbean heritage, and Leigh-Anne identifies as black. She is also aware that having lighter skin and being a celebrity means she is in a more privileged position than others.
“Leigh-Anne embarks on her own very personal journey to understand how she can use her platform and privilege to combat the profound racism she sees in society around her.
“After she begins her journey, news of George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter protests start to sweep the world. With the force of a global movement now behind her, Leigh-Anne confronts those closest to her and attempts to bring difficult conversations about black representation right to the top of the music industry.”
In the documentary, Leigh-Anne speaks to black British pop stars, including Keisha Buchanan from Sugababes, X Factor winner Alexandra Burke and singer-songwriters Raye and NAO.
Burke claims she was told she was “too black” for the industry and was advised to bleach her skin to make her more likeable.
What has Pinnock said about racism and colourism?
Pinnock has expressed how she felt left out and overlooked in Little Mix, due to the colour of her skin.
She told the BBC’s Nikki Onafuye that she spent the recent Little Mix tour crying herself to sleep as she felt she “may as well not be here,” as she deemed herself invisible in comparison to her white band members.
She said of the issues regarding racism: "The lack of diversity is disgraceful," adding “What I address is that I know that if I was some shades darker that I wouldn't be in the band. I think that was so important for me to address because it is true.”
Pinnock is lighter skinned due to her mixed-race, something she believes makes her relatable to her massively white female fan base. She wants to use her platform and the documentary to engage with black people of all origins, ethnicities and backgrounds.
Pinnock said racism and colourism are incredibly contentious issues, she felt it was a personal and important statement when she said she identified as black, due to her mixed-race heritage.
In 2019, the working title of the documentary was announced as "Colourism and Race", this led to a lot of negative comments on social media directed at Leigh-Anne. Some questioned whether she was the right person to present the film.
Has she commented on her pregnancy?
The documentary was completed before Pinnock announced she is pregnant, so it is not expected that there will be any reference to her baby in the documentary.
On 5 May, she announced her good news with a series of snaps which revealed her baby bump. She captioned the photos: “We've dreamed about this moment for so long and we can't believe the dream is finally coming true... we can't wait to meet you.”
Days later, bandmate Perrie Edwards announced she is also to become a mother, as is their manager Samantha Cox.
Where can I watch the BBC documentary?
Leigh-Anne: Race, Pop & Power will be shown on BBC One on Thursday 13 May at 9pm.
It will also be available to watch via iPlayer, live as it airs on BBC One and subsequently on demand.