Fifth Harmony's Dinah Jane Discusses #MeToo, Self-confidence, and the Possibility of Going Solo
When I first meet Dinah Jane, Tongan singer-songwriter and member of pop girl group Fifth Harmony, she is standing inside of a gym getting ready to literally slay 2018 and her first Flaunt photo shoot. I sit next to her on a stationary bicycle to begin our interview and I realize, 'this woman is fearless.' Jane seems to be extremely proud of who she is and what she looks like and I'm curious, where does she draw confidence from in her rough moments, what are her thoughts on being a female artist in the midst of the prominent #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, and what’s in store for her forthcoming solo career.
“I draw my confidence from the other girls in the group," Jane tells me, effortleslly pedaling in place. "We got into this industry when were barely 15-years-old. And with being 15, you kind of come into this business being super insecure only because you’re now in the public eye and you’re growing up in front of everybody."
At one point Jane felt like the most insecure person in the world. “They girls have definitely motivated me to love myself more," she says. "I think part of my confidence also comes from the fact that I’m surrounded by different cultured women through this experience. I’m exposed to the African American culture and the Latin culture, and that makes me want to embrace my own individuality, to express it, and to live in it because I realize I’m a representation of someone else out there.”
With her self-esteem stronger than ever, now Jane finds herself assisting her followers in learning to love themselves. She recalls a particularly impactful moment with a fan during a meet-and-greet session. "I remember seeing this girl that had cuts on her arm," Jane tells me with a quake in her voice, referring to a young lady who'd attempted suicide. "It breaks my heart when I think about it, and I get chills every time. I remember distinctly noticing it, and I grabbed her arm and said ‘No more.’ When she came back to the next meet-and-greet, she has placed a tattoo over her scars that said those two words: ‘No More.’”
It was after that interaction that Jane realized how much power she possesses as an artist, and as a woman. While Jane is urging many to be their best selves, Beyonce is the star that twinkles brightest to her.
“She's sort of like my mom,” Jane jokes as I tell her I too am waiting for the day when Queen B decides to adopt me. “She embodies empowerment. No matter the age, no matter the gender of her fan base, she has the ability to be authentic with her flaws and her journey and is able to touch so many people’s hearts.”
Jane tells me she has immense amounts of respect for both the women and men who have spoken out in the #MeToo era and encouraged other people to speak out about their experiences. She says it's so encouraging that, across the globe, this movement is being both acknowledged and supported. “I think it sends a powerful message to women artists like you're in control of your own power, of your own voice. It’s especially beautiful for me to see women have that bravery to speak up and break the silence. It's empowering.”
When it comes to being in control of her own voice, in terms of releasing solo music, Jane shares with me that fear of not being good enough has definitely entered her mind.
“Sometimes when you sing someone else’s song over and over again or songs that have been given to you," she tells me, "you’re afraid to go out there and write one yourself. You start to question, ‘Well, I don't know if my music will be as perfect as these songs I’m given. I don't know if what I have to offer is worth radio play,’ But when you’re able to escape that mindset, the process becomes easier because it's super authentic and real. I’ve noticed that what I like about what's playing on the radio nowadays is that it sounds so raw and genuine.”
She says what helps her get out of that fearful mentality is the praise she’s received from her solo collabs with rhymers like Daddy Yankee and French Montana, and, most recently, a duet with UK songstress Leona Lewis.
“My collaboration with Leona sparked something in me that I haven’t felt in a while," Jane says. "It sparked more creativity and passion in me. I feel like there's something in me that desires to express myself even more and not be so afraid of a solo endeavor.”
Unlike Camila Cabello, who I interviewed for the cover of Flaunt’s Aftershock Issue, Dinah tells me she knew she wanted to write her own songs before joining the group. “I think we were all songwriters before Fifth Harmony started. We were all our own individual artist at the time so we still kind of carry that individuality within this journey that all four of us are taking right now, collectively and independently.”
As of now, Dinah is fully immersed in her PSA tour with the group and hasn't had a moment to dedicate to her solo music. But I’m curious to know if we’ll hear her Southern Pacific roots in her songs when that time comes or if her sound will differ from that of the group's.
“To be honest," she says, "that's something I don't even know yet. I have not stood on my own in a while. Singing with Leona was such an experience," she adds, "because I grew up listening to her music. When I was eleven I posted my first YouTube cover to one of her songs. Performing with her just makes me so excited for what’s to come. I never thought in a million years I would be in a girl group," she says truthfully, "so I can’t look too deep into the future but I am revisiting childhood favorites from genres--like reggae--," she tells me. "I'm excited to see if I'll use these sounds in my own music."
Jane may not be able to tell us exactly what lies ahead just yet, but from where we're standing, let's just say that we see great things coming. We're excited for you Jane, see you at the top.
Written by Eva Barragan
Photos by Jose Cervantes
Hair by Justine Marjan
Makeup by Carlene Kearns
Styling by Gigi Fernandez