Lauren Jauregui isn’t here for President Donald Trump — and she isn’t afraid to say so.
On Monday, the Fifth Harmony singer published an open letter in People addressing Trump’s travel ban, calling the executive order “disrespectful to humanity.” But for the 20-year-old Miami native’s devoted legion of fans, her strong stance comes as no surprise. Jauregui came out as bisexual in a letter to Trump supporters in November and was one of the thousands who participated in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., the day after the inauguration.
MTV News spoke with Jauregui about her activism, the importance of talking to her fans about politics, and using her platform as a megaphone.
How are you?
Lauren Jauregui: I’m good. Well, as good as I can be right now [ coughs].
As the world is ending …
Over the past several months, you’ve been openly speaking out against Trump. Has your activism been fueled by the election or is it something that started earlier?
Jauregui: I’ve always been passionate about human rights in general. I think anyone who knows me can attest to that. I really wasn’t given a voice until very recently, but I’ve always spoken out about the bullshit that’s going on since the beginning of having a platform.
I went to a high school that taught me to be more worldly. The whole curriculum was very globally based. We learned a lot about other cultures and reflected on them. We had theology and philosophy classes. I was able to expand that and see what was really going on in the world. I’ve always had this sense of justice — I get that from my mom, for sure. When you see stuff that’s wrong … it’s just wrong, man. You gotta point that out.
For many people, Trump’s rhetoric — particularly targeted toward marginalized groups — has felt personal. In what ways has it felt personal to you?
Jauregui: Well, I am a woman. One of [Trump’s] first executive orders was to take away our rights to our bodies. I am also a bisexual. His vice-president believes in conversion therapy. I am also of immigrant descent. My grandparents and my mom came from Cuba back in the ’60s because they were fleeing from communism and Castro. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. I don’t understand what’s going on right now — it just doesn’t make any sense.
On Monday, you published a powerful piece in response to Trump’s immigration policy. What were you trying to accomplish with that letter?
Jauregui: I actually didn’t have a goal. I do this thing in my Notes [app] where I just rant whenever something’s going on or it’s something I’m passionate about. I usually just talk it out to myself via my notes. I got so angry when I heard about the Muslim ban. Or, not really a Muslim ban — it was just seven specific countries in the Middle East [and North Africa] whose people have never participated in any affiliation with a terrorist attack [on U.S. soil]. Those seven countries have never even been associated with that. So to claim them as “terrorists” is even false to begin with. It doesn’t make any sense. So I was like, “We need to write something about this.” People need to know what’s going on. People need to wake up. Because the more [that] people are like, “Oh, I don’t really want to talk about that,” or, “It’s too much to think about,” it’s like, yeah, right now it’s too much to think about. But later, when it’s affecting our lives, we won’t be able to do much about it.
What has the response been like?
Jauregui: It’s been really positive. I have a lot of people in my life who support me. I have friends who encourage me, so it’s cool to have that. Also, the fans — they’re amazing. Their feedback was, “You inspired me to do this” and “You taught me that I could use my voice, that I’m not silent.” It just fuels me even more because I know I’m reaching someone.
Do you think that every public figure should feel obligated to say something?
Jauregui: I don’t know if everyone should feel obligated. I understand a lot of people get involved in the entertainment industry to be the distraction. Because that is what art is at the end of the day: It’s an escapism that we all crave.
It would be very hypocritical for me not to do everything I possibly could. But I personally can’t tell anybody what they should be doing. It’s a very scary time for a lot of people; they feel scared to speak up. There’s so much controversy even speaking up about politics to begin with. People try to discredit you at every single corner, especially if you’re a woman. So it’s hard as an artist to really speak up about this kind of stuff when you’re trying to be successful and have a career. I understand the apprehension.
You attended the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Can you describe what that day was like for you and why it was important for you to be there?
Jauregui: Absolutely. I knew it was going to be historic and it was. There were hundreds of thousands of people from different backgrounds, different religions, different genders, and different races. It didn’t matter where you came from or who you were — everyone was out there to make it very clear that we did not agree with Trump’s attitudes and his policies. That day was so monumental not only for our nation, but all around the world. Millions of people gathered together to show their opposition. We want to move forward. We want to acknowledge the fact that there’s climate change, that there are wars going on and people need refuge. We need to really start taking care of each other and not profiting off of each other’s miseries. That shouldn’t be our reality. That shouldn’t be what we aspire to. It’s not admirable in any way, shape, or form.
Given this political climate, is there anything else you’d like our young readers to know?
Jauregui: Whoever is reading this, make sure that when you agree with everything that’s being said and when you feel passionate about your future, you take it into your hands. You do something.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.