Little Mix's Leigh-Anne Pinnock wins Ethnicity Award for her BBC documentary Race, Pop and Power


‘The hard work doesn’t stop here!’ Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock wins Ethnicity Award for her documentary Race, Pop and Power and insists her fight for change has only just begun

  • In the one-hour documentary, the singer, 30, detailed her experience with racism and being the only black band member in Little Mix
  • Leigh-Anne broke down in tears as she said she felt ‘invisible’ because of her skin colour and said she felt like she has been treated differently 
  • The singer also met with other stars such as Alexandra Burke and Keisha Buchanan to discuss racism in the industry for the documentary


She received critical acclaim for her TV special exploring racism in the music industry, which aired in May.

And on Friday night, Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock, 30, won the Ethnicity Award for her BBC documentary Race, Pop and Power.

The singing sensation accepted the award, insisting her fight for change has only just begun as she told fans: ‘The hard work doesn’t stop here!’ after scooping the top prize at the coveted awards on Friday.

Congratulations: on Friday night, Little Mix's Leigh-Anne Pinnock, 30, won the Ethnicity Award for her BBC documentary Race, Pop and Power

Congratulations: on Friday night, Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock, 30, won the Ethnicity Award for her BBC documentary Race, Pop and Power

The annual Ethnicity Awards, held in association with sponsors HSBC UK was hosted by ITV News presenter Charlene White and took place against the backdrop of a race storm engulfing British cricket.

Celebrities and public figures, recognised as advocates who are working to progress equality, were honoured with accolades.

Leigh-Anne won a top accolade for her insightful documentary, in which she opened up about her own experiences of racism.

The pop star said: ‘This is an incredible award and I want to thank my amazing fans who are so supportive and inspire me everyday to wake up and keep fighting for change.

Powerful: She received critical acclaim for her TV special exploring racism in the music industry, which aired back in May

Powerful: She received critical acclaim for her TV special exploring racism in the music industry, which aired back in May

‘Thank you for the amazing contributors to the documentary who shared their stories – the film would be nothing without you.

‘In the words of Dawn Butler “when the history books are written, what’s going to be said next to your name?” The hard work doesn’t stop here.’  

In her BBC documentary, Leigh-Anne recalled how, from the moment she starred on The X Factor, ‘things felt a bit off’ and has been ‘treated differently’ from her Little Mix band mates over the past decade, purely because of her skin colour. 

Leigh-Anne, who filmed the documentary over the past year, said she felt like the ‘token black girl’ in the band and that her skin colour was being used ‘to define my image within the group’.   

Achievement: The singing sensation accepted the award, insisting her fight for change has only just begun as she told fans: 'The hard work doesn't stop here!'

Achievement: The singing sensation accepted the award, insisting her fight for change has only just begun as she told fans: ‘The hard work doesn’t stop here!’

Grateful: The pop star said: 'This is an incredible award and I want to thank my amazing fans who are so supportive and inspire me everyday to wake up and keep fighting for change

Grateful: The pop star said: ‘This is an incredible award and I want to thank my amazing fans who are so supportive and inspire me everyday to wake up and keep fighting for change

The songstress propelled to fame when she starred on the 2011 series of The X Factor with Jesy Nelson, who has since left the band, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards, with Little Mix going on to be crowned winners. 

Leigh-Anne said: ‘Before we even signed a record deal things began to feel a bit off. On the The X Factor when they dyed my hair red and shaved it, it made me look like “the Rihanna”. 

‘I was 20 at the time and I guess a bit naive. Looking back it was clear my colour was being used to define my image within the group. Those things when I think back to it, I’m just like “wow”.’ 

Her story: In her documentary, Leigh-Anne said she felt like the 'token black girl' in the group and that her skin colour was being used 'to define my image within the group'

Her story: In her documentary, Leigh-Anne said she felt like the ‘token black girl’ in the group and that her skin colour was being used ‘to define my image within the group’

Unhappy: Leigh-Anne said: 'Before we even signed a record deal things began to feel a bit off. On the X Factor when they dyed my hair red and shaved it, it made me look like "the Rihanna".'

Unhappy: Leigh-Anne said: ‘Before we even signed a record deal things began to feel a bit off. On the X Factor when they dyed my hair red and shaved it, it made me look like “the Rihanna”.’

Leigh-Anne, who is of Caribbean heritage, also addressed colourism – when a lighter-skinned person is favoured over a darker-skinned person due to the shade of their skin. 

She questioned if ‘I was a few shades darker, would I still be in the band?’ and became emotional when she was flooded with cruel comments from trolls saying she wasn’t ‘black enough’ to host the documentary.  

The songstress has also launched a foundation to fund internships and mentor schemes for black people of all ages entering the creative industries. 

She said: ‘I don’t want the next girl in pop to feel like how I’ve felt. This is just the beginning. I’m a fighter.’ 

The 2021 Ethnicity Award winners 

INSPIRATIONAL PUBLIC FIGURE – Naomi Campbell 

TESCO FUTURE LEADER – Kemi Fajoye, Pearson

ONLINE INFLUENCER – Munya Chawawa

NATIONAL GRID WORKPLACE HERO – Sami Halepota, Surrey Police

MACQUARIE GROUP NETWORK GROUP (ERG) – Embrace, HSBC UK

BURBERRY PRESENTER, JOURNALIST OR HOST – Naga Munchetty

LLOYDS BANKING GROUP CHAMPION (ALLY) – James Clarry, Coutts

LGIM CHARITY OR COMMUNITY INITIATIVE – End Violence and Racism Against ESEA Communities

SPORTS PERSONALITY – Alex Scott MBE

VIACOMCBS INSPIRATIONAL LEADER – Segun Osuntokun, BCLP

BP OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO COMMUNITIES – Marissa Begonia, The Voice of Domestic Workers

MEDIA PROGRESS MOMENT – Leigh-Anne Pinnock’s ‘Race, Pop and Power’ Documentary

POLITICIAN OF THE YEAR – Sadiq Khan

MUSIC ARTIST – Arlo Parks

HSBC UK LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – Moira Stuart OBE

OUTSTANDING EMPLOYER – National Grid

 

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