Normani Kordei has a lot to talk about. She’s in one of the biggest modern girl groups in the world, Fifth Harmony, which in two short weeks will embark on a month-long tour in Asia. On Wednesday, she was revealed as a cast member of Season 24 of “Dancing With the Stars,” a show she grew up watching with her grandmother. Then, of course, there’s the news that shook Fifth Harmony’s fan base — better known as the Harmonizers — the week before Christmas: Camila Cabello’s choice to go solo and the social media back-and-forth it caused.
The last of these, however, is not something Kordei is willing to discuss. Instead, she prefers to talk about life as a foursome.
A few weeks after Cabello’s departure, Fifth Harmony’s remaining members — Kordei, Ally Brooke, Dinah Jane and Lauren Jauregui — began work on their junior album. “We’ve just been vibing, honestly,” Kordei says of recent recording sessions. She and the other women feel they now “have so much freedom to expound, talk about things that are going on in our lives,” and are working with “the best songwriters and producers” to help them translate all of that into song. At the young age of 20, Kordei says the biggest thing that’s going on in her life right now is figuring out who she is.
“One thing that I would like to touch on that I haven’t necessarily yet would be me coming into my own,” she says when asked what she’d like to bring to one of the group’s upcoming songwriting sessions. “I think I speak for the four of us. We’ve done so much growing. I’m not the same person that I am even a month ago.”
She says Fifth Harmony has “been pulled in so many different directions” since its formation on “The X Factor” in 2012. “For me, it really did take a toll. When people start saying certain things, you kinda believe it. But I know who I am and I owe it to myself. I’m still trying to figure it out, but it’s kind of, like, day by day. I take it step by step still.”
Her family helps her sift through the confusion of celebrity — and ease the inevitable homesickness. Kordei’s mother accompanies her when she’s on the road and she FaceTimes her father “like, every single day.” And if ever she can’t reach them, she has her fellow bandmates. From the sounds of it, the foursome is closer than ever — and they have no interest in bringing on a new member.
“Our fifth member are our fans,” Kordei explains. “From the beginning of ‘X Factor,’ the four of us were still part of Fifth Harmony and I feel like it actually makes up whatever Fifth Harmony is. Fifth Harmony is its own entity. The four of us make up what that one is. I feel like bringing somebody else in wouldn’t. We worked so hard throughout the past four or five years together. The chemistry is there. We’ve seen each other at our lowest. We’ve seen each other at our highest — whether that be winning an AMA or whatever. But we definitely ride with each other. We’re sisters at the end of the day, and we’ve seen it all. It’s just us. We’re there for each other.”
Just because the group is going strong without Cabello doesn’t mean its remaining members aren’t mapping out their own solo endeavors. Kordei, for example, wants to cross over into acting.
“That’s always been a dream of mine,” she says. “I started off in dance. That was actually my first passion, which introduced me to music, which people don’t really know. People always just think, ‘She sang first.’ But no, dance was my first passion, so I’d love to get back into that. I was that kid that did dance, singing, pageants. I did everything pretty much across the board, so it was kind of an adjustment solely doing music. But I’d like to break out again.”
Kordei has hopes for a role in an action film or a television series — in addition to “Dancing with the Stars” — and names Jennifer Lopez as her inspiration for gracefully transitioning from music to acting. She was also recently named a global ambassador to the American Cancer Society.
“My mom was actually diagnosed with breast cancer when I was five,” she says. “I didn’t fully understand what was going on, but looking back now, I’m really grateful that she is here to see me and help me navigate through life because I wouldn’t have turned out the same, just being honest.” Through her role as global ambassador, Kordei hopes to educate young men and women between the ages of nine and 14 about the various types of cancer, and encourage them to get vaccinated.
Between dancing, singing, being a humanitarian and (fingers crossed) acting, Kordei is bound to have an eventful 2017 and onward. Life as a foursome — and a single — never sounded so good.