Fifth Harmony singer Normani Kordei, who secured a place in the semifinals alongside dance partner Val Chmerkovskiy, got emotional as she spoke to the show's judges about her painful experience with online trolls. The 20-year-old pop star has previously opened up to this very site about being taunted by cyberbullies who accused her of dissing former bandmember Camila Cabello. The online attacks prompted her to take a break from Twitter.
“The piece is so symbolic of times that I’ve felt helpless and desperate,” Kordei said of her performance to "Freedom" by Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton, which appears on the Django Unchained soundtrack.
“I got bullied terribly on social media," she told host Tom Bergeron, People reports. "I did an interview. It was taken out of context completely and there were images. People were calling me the N word. It was really ugly. It was every time I went online it’s, ‘Oh, how much we hate you. How talentless you are.’ They actually made images of me being whipped, beaten, hung.”
Kordei revealed that much of the abuse was of a racist nature.
“I shouldn’t want to change the colour of my skin or texture of my hair or the fact that I’m a woman," she noted. "I felt really alone. And just like everybody hated me.
The judges offered words of support, and gave her powerful performance a perfect score of 40. She and Chmerkovskiy now move on to the semifinals, but that doesn't seem to be the biggest prize at stake here.
"At the end of the day I have to be me," the young star said of moving on from the cyberbullying. "I want to be able to look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m proud of that person and I love who you are.'"
Can we give that quote a 40? Watch her dance below.