H.E.R. has experienced so much in her 23 years on planet Earth.
H.E.R. touches on everything from discrimination to Back of My Mind to her similarities to Superman in a new cover interview with Variety.
“I got that a lot going to the grocery store: People would say, ‘That’s your mom?’ [because] she has straight hair and I’ve got curly hair, and my skin colour is tan. It was tough accepting myself and understanding that you can be both things,” H.E.R. reflects.
“People like to put labels and boxes on you and try to say, ‘But you’re Black,’ or you’re this or that. Why does it have to be one thing? Why can’t I be all of these things?” she asks. “I was too Asian for the Black kids or too Black for the Filipino kids.”
H.E.R. noticed a shift between middle school and high school.
“In middle school, kids are mean and everyone is brutal. It’s about fitting in. [But] when I got to my senior year, it became cool. I’m proud of it now — my parents are from two completely different worlds and I think it makes me more well-rounded — but there was always that difficult and awkward ‘I’m a little different; I don’t know how to feel.’”
Speaking of her mom, H.E.R. actually brought her to the Oscars.
“My mom was my date. Angela Bassett was sitting next to us, and my mom was excited to meet her and Tyler Perry and all these people. I was just happy to be there. I almost forgot that I had a chance to win,” H.E.R. admits. “They played the clips [from the films], my heart was beating fast, and they announced my name.
“Everything stopped for a hot second, and there was craziness going on in my head. I’m thinking of the doubt I’d had, I’m thinking of my mom sitting next to me, I’m thinking of the movie and how important it was — everything was going through my mind at once. And then … I didn’t prepare a speech. So I was like, ‘Oh crap, I have to go up there and say something.’”
H.E.R. won the Oscar for Best Original Song at the 2021 Academy Awards. The transition from music to acting is one she eventually wants to make.
“There is so much I want to do. People don’t really get to see my comedic and fun side, except for when I’m impersonating my aunt. But I definitely want to do a lot more voiceovers and comedy but also some serious roles,” she says. “I’m trying to do it all, I know. Whatever it is, one thing at a time. I’m gonna get there.”
Despite all the fame, H.E.R. manages to stay incognito when walking around her Brooklyn, New York, neighbourhood.
“People don’t recognize me without my glasses,” H.E.R. says. “Sometimes I feel like Clark Kent.”
H.E.R. is set to release her debut studio album, Back Of My Mind on June 18.
“I didn’t wanna pull out all my tricks at once,” she says of the project. “My first few [releases] were just a small piece of who I am musically, and it was a matter of time before I could reveal others. I’ve always been a huge fan of Coldplay and Led Zeppelin and Radiohead and alternative and rock and blues but it wasn’t until this album that I started digging into those other elements and bringing them to R&B.
“Lyrically, [the new album] is not just one thing either. It’s a lot of different emotions and perspectives and things I’ve felt in the past few years. Now that people have entered into my world and have a better understanding, I can give more.”