Rebecca Black on bullying and her music
“Gangnam Style” may have stolen Rebecca Black’s YouTube crown — but the 15-year-old Californian doesn’t begrudge PSY his success. “I love that song!” she told EW enthusiastically earlier this week. “I have it on my phone. We rock out to it all the time.”
But all things considered, Black doesn’t have much time for rocking out. She’s too busy performing in concert, recording new songs, and otherwise trying to spin her viral video stardom into a legitimate music career. In her spare time, she’s also speaking out against bullying on behalf of a new campaign called “Be Good To Each Other.” Black — along with other celebs like gymnast Nastia Liukin and Pretty Little Liars actress Janel Parrish — designed an anti-bullying t-shirt that’s being sold throughout October, also known as National Bullying Prevention Month. All proceeds from the shirts will be donated to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center.
Clearly, Black knows a thing or two about being teased; her “Friday” music video made her a national punchline everywhere from late night TV to, uh, this magazine. So as the teen’s new campaign began, we chatted with Rebecca over the phone about dealing with “Friday” backlash, facing ridiculous rumors, and trying to launch a music career in spite of it all. Warning: Do not read if having “fun fun fun fun” stuck in your head doesn’t sound like, well, fun.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Since it’s 11:37 a.m. in California right now, I’m guessing you’re not in school. Are you homeschooled?
REBECCA BLACK: Yeah. There was a lot of press out there about, you know, “Rebecca Black gets homeschooled [because of] bullying.” But I wouldn’t say that I began homeschooling because of bullying. There’s so much time involved in this industry, and I just found myself missing lots of school. And yeah, there are a few mean kids at school, but…
Even if bullying didn’t directly lead to your leaving school, you’ve obviously faced a ton of negative attention. Can you take me through your experience with bullying?
It was pretty much right off the bat. I got home from school one day, and I had gotten an email or something saying, “This is what’s going on on your video. Already there are a lot of negative comments.” So yeah, it was kind of an ongoing thing. But I guess you could say that I’m almost… [pause] I wouldn’t say used to it now, but I’m almost immune. When you see the same things so many times, you kind of don’t have a reaction anymore. Some girls and guys in school, it just gave them a reason to pick on me. But I don’t know, it was middle school. Middle school already is not the best time in your life.
Why do you think “Friday” attracted so much negative attention?
Honestly, I couldn’t really tell you! [Laughs] I don’t know what made it so different, because there are so many people that post music videos online. It’s a very simple song, and very catchy. I don’t know. It did get posted to Tosh.0’s website, so that definitely attracted some attention.
You haven’t been shy about confronting people who have been mean to you — you filmed an episode of that CW show, H8r, where you talked to one of your anti-fans.
I did! That was an interesting day. It was something that I really wanted to do, because especially in my case, I don’t really get to see haters. Even if I do happen to come across them, they act very differently in person than online.
How did you get your hater to change her mind?
Honestly, I just tried to be myself . There are so many facts out there that, you know, they’re just rumors — they’re not even facts.
What kind of rumors have you read about yourself?
I’ve been pregnant multiple times. [Laughs] I’ve died about five times now. I’ve been hit on the head with a bottle. But I’ve never been hit on the head with a bottle, so.
In the wake of everything that’s happened, have you ever wished you hadn’t made the video in the first place? Or has the good outweighed the bad?
In the beginning, it was such a whirlwind that I thought, like, “Is it worth it?” But I think now, looking back on it, the good definitely outweighs the bad.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve done since you got famous overnight?
Well, the Katy Perry video was pretty cool. I won a Teen Choice Award last year for best web star. And then getting to go to the Grammys, that was also really cool.
Since the song went viral, you’ve continued making music. Why have you kept at it?
Singing and music in general is something that I’m so passionate about. Like, I can’t imagine my life without music. The fact that I got the opportunity to do this and have the world know my name, even if it’s in a good way or a bad way — that’s been the best thing. And there’s gonna be people that like it and people that don’t like it. If you really love something, if you’re really passionate about it, keep going for it.
Before “Friday” blew up, had you thought about having a career in music?
I definitely did want to. The reason I made the “Friday” video was because I thought it would look really good on my resume — I would get to be in a studio and record a video. I never really thought it would go huge. Like, it had a couple thousand views on YouTube, and that was the coolest thing in the world to me. It’s definitely something I never could have dreamed of.
What advice would you give to someone who’s being bullied?
I definitely think that they should tell somebody about it, because that’s the hardest part. Let someone know, because it needs to be stopped.
What’s next for you?
We’ve put out three singles since “Friday,” and it’s all been about figuring out what kind of music is my sound. So I think we finally are getting there, and we’ve been working on putting out a full-length album. But it takes time — we don’t have an official [release] date yet.
How would you describe your sound?
It’s definitely different from “Friday” and the other things I’ve released. It’s a bit more acoustic. And you know, being at the whopping age of 15, the things I sing about are a little bit more… not mature, I would say, but I’m getting older, and I’m getting a few more experiences that I can sing about.
Finally, I have to ask you this: Given a choice between kickin’ it in the front seat or sitting in the back seat, which seat would you take?
[Laughs] I’m a front seat person.