Camila was on the cover of Latina in early 2017.
Why did you decide to leave Fifth Harmony? I started in the group when I was just 15. I needed to follow my heart and my artistic vision. I’m grateful for everything we had in Fifth Harmony and for [this new] opportunity. I am less focused on success and more on doing my best and pursuing my artistic vision to the fullest, wherever that takes me. Of course I also hope people will enjoy my music!
Tell us about your evolution as a solo singer-songwriter. I’d been writing and creating songs the whole time that I was in Fifth Harmony.
It’s been a really important creative outlet for me. I feel like I found my voice in the process. Music has helped me become selfaware and know who I am as a person.
You've talked publicly about your struggle with anxiety. When did you realize it was an issue for you? Late 2015 and the beginning of 2016. I had terrible OCD [obsessive-compulsive disorder], and it was just totally out of control. I would wake up with a super-accelerated heartbeat and really negative, intrusive, compulsive thoughts. I was so inside my head, and I didn’t know what was happening. I totally understand now, being in it, why there shouldn’t be such a stigma on mental illness, because it’s a pretty common thing for people. But you can get help. If you’re dedicated to making it better, you can — because I’m in a much better place now. I started reading books about it and it really helped a lot when I understood [the illness], and that [the thoughts I was having] weren’t real. Sometimes you have to remind yourself to slow down and take care of yourself.
Who helped you through it? My mom is my best friend, I can tell her anything. Because she’s gone through so much in her life, she knows what’s important and what’s not. I feel like in the industry, there are beautiful, amazing things. But the only thing that I love about this is making music. Everything else can be very empty and very draining, soulless. My mom’s always been good about leading me to what’s real. Going back to Miami and being in bed with my family all cuddled up and watching La Familia Peluche… Going into the studio and spilling my heart…
Speaking of music, you're friends with Taylor Swift, is she also a mentor? Our friendship has never been about career or anything professional. I tell her about boys and cry to her about boys. She’ll give me advice like, “No, do not text him back.” But I’m so excited for the day that I get to play her my music because she is seriously one of the reasons I started songwriting. I feel like we have something really cool where we can just be honest with each other, and we can just be girls, talking about stupid crushes. It’s the best.
You've been guarded about your love life, why? Social media’s weird because people can get too caught up in it. I understand though, because I was a fangirl. Love is the most important thing to me in the world. I’m such a hopeless romantic. I’m reading Love in the Time of Cholera. It’s like ‘I am Florentina!’ When I fall in love with someone I would do anything for them. It’s probably because I’m Latin. I’m so passionate, and I grew up listening to boleros and love songs. It’s so funny when you translate the lyrics into English it sounds cheesy because of how passionate the language is. If you said that in English, people would be like “what the hell, dude? Are you okay?” But in Spanish it’s normal.
I get why people are interested in my love life, but I don’t want to give people that piece of me because it is the most important part. Here’s my dream life: I want to make songs and have incredible experiences with people. I don’t want to be locked up in a hotel room and just do press and red carpets. That’s not the kind of life I want to live. I want to make music, but I also want to go on road trips with friends. I want to go backpacking around Europe. I want to meet a Spanish boy in Spain and fall in love.
When you met President Obama you cried and thanked him for everything he's done for immigration. Now we have a president with a completely opposing view... At this point he is president, but it’s about making sure our voices are heard and letting him know that we are not going to surrender to his language of hatred against our people, Muslim people, people of color, gay people, people with disabilities — everyone he shut down in order to get where he is right now. We’re going to stand our ground. He needs to be a good president, not just for those who voted for him but for all of us, even the people that he hurt and insulted. Love is gonna trump hate. I never planned on being so politically involved [Camila’s been vocal on social media and marched in anti-Trump protests], but this hit so close to home for me that it wasn’t politics anymore, this was a human issue.
It’s really important for me to say [to the fans], “Hey I’m an immigrant! I’m Cuban and Mexican! I worked super-hard and I’m living my dreams right now and you can too.”