In 2011, Rebecca Black, then just an ordinary teenage girl, became an overnight sensation for all the wrong reasons. The video for her amateur song “Friday” became a viral hit and the subject of public ridicule. Now, the star is opening up about the bullying she suffered in those years.
“When “Friday” went up on the internet, it went crazy,” Black writes in an essay for NBC News’ Think. “The onslaught of negative attention I received was so sudden and so intense that I wasn’t sure I would survive.”
Black was only 13 years old when she decided to record the “Friday” music video during a school break. “[The video was] just to help me gain some experience and have some fun.”
The video thrust Black into the media spotlight, but the majority of the attention she received wasn’t positive. “One minute, I was a normal girl and then, in the next, millions of people know who I was and they were ruthless in hurling the most vile words my way.”
“People were writing things all over the internet, on social media and they were laughing at me on TV shows, and making fun of me in YouTube videos. It was open season and I was the target,” Black states in the essay.
“The fact that there was a human, a person — a 13-year-old girl — on the other side of the screen seemingly escaped so many people’s attention.”
The teasing and bullying were relentless, not just online, but at her high school in Anaheim Hills, California, which she eventually left after the abuse from her classmates became too much.
“In my life, there were people I personally knew at school and in my inner circle who verbally abused me,” she writes. “But then there were also complete strangers from all around the world using social media to deride me, degrade me and even worse; some people threatened my life.
“Although I was hurt to my core by the intense nastiness, I had absolutely no way to deal with that, so I shut down.”
Black is now using her experience and her celebrity to fight cyber-bullying and reach out to those suffering through similar problems. “I do know now that what happened to me is truly just a global extension of something that goes on in every school, on every computer screen and in every neighborhood.
“That’s why I’ve chosen to add my voice to the chorus. Nobody needs to suffer in silence, like I did, for so many years. Talk to someone who can help, whether that’s a friend, a trusted adult or a mental health professional,” she writes.
“Whatever a bully is saying about you is wrong. It didn’t feel that way when I was 13 and people were writing about how awful and undeserving I was, but I now know they were wrong.”
Black recently released a new EP titled RE/BL.