Friday singer Rebecca Black has opened up more about the depression she suffered as a teenager, after bullies on the internet and in real life tormented her for the music video she made with friends nine years ago.
Now 22, Rebecca reflected on the ‘unbelievable experience’ in a new interview on Good Morning America, admitting it’s ‘hard to watch’ old clips of herself talking about the abuse she faced.
‘Having people tell you that you don’t belong where you want to be, that you should kill yourself — having to then reflect on that as a teenager is an unbelievable experience,’ she said.
Reflecting: Friday singer Rebecca Black has opened up more about the depression she suffered as a teenager
Who could forget? Monday marked the nine-year anniversary of the much-maligned music video for the pop song Friday starring a then-13-year-old Rebecca
It was certainly a whirlwind for Rebecca after the song and video went viral in 2011, and some fun experiences did come along with it.
‘Friday was a flash in the pan for me of — this is something that could be fun,’ she said.
‘I got to work with Katy Perry and be on set of a Lady Gaga music video and then win a Teen Choice Award. There were crazy things that made it feel positive,’ she said.
I became unbelievably depressed and trapped in this body of what I thought the world would see me as forever
But the video also made her the butt of jokes and a magnet for cruel abuse.
In one old interview in which she is still in middle school, Rebecca says that strangers have told her to cut herself and die, urging her to develop and eating disorder so she could be pretty.
‘It’s hard to watch. I became unbelievably depressed and trapped in this body of what I thought the world would see me as forever. When I hadn’t even finished growing,’ she said.
Rebecca has grown up a lot since then, and she hasn’t given up on music. She continued to sing throughout her teens, recording original songs and sharing covers on YouTube, where she has 1.46 million subscribers.
‘Having people tell you that you don’t belong where you want to be, that you should kill yourself — having to then reflect on that as a teenager is an unbelievable experience,’ she said
Upside: She admitted there were a few positives, like appearing in a Katy Perry music video — but she was also ‘unbelievably depressed’
Most recently, she released singles called Sweetheart, Anyway, and Do You — and she is set to release a new album this Friday.
But on Monday, Rebecca marked the ninth anniversary of her first single with an Instagram post that included a letter to her younger self.
‘I just hoped that by potentially being honest, it could just help somebody else find hope,’ she said on GMA.
‘I didn’t even realize that it was the anniversary until I saw it on the internet, and I knew I wanted to comment on it and trying to think about what exactly I wanted to say,’ she went on.
‘It’s very easy to kind of immediately go, “Oh, crazy nine years!” But I just realized that that wasn’t accurate to how I was really feeling about it and also had realized that I never really, on my own accord been honest about what my experience was.
‘I’ve done plenty of interviews and I talked about it a lot, but never have I ever brought up the fact that I battled with depression, never have I ever really been honest, and I thought I owed it to whoever might be out there listening or reading and scrolling through their Instagram.’
Looking back: Nearly a decade later, Rebecca, now 22, shared a message for her younger self, while posting an image of herself now versus how she looked in the music video
She said: ‘I’m trying to remind myself more and more that every day is a new opportunity to shift your reality and lift your spirit. You are not defined by any one choice or thing’
In the post, the Irvine, California native said she was ‘terribly ashamed,’ depressed, and tormented at school.
‘Nine years ago today, a music video for a song called “Friday” was uploaded to the internet,’ she wrote on February 10.
‘Above all things, I just wish I could go back and talk to my 13-year-old self, who was terribly ashamed of herself and afraid of the world,’ she went on.
‘To my 15-year-old self, who felt like she had nobody to talk to about the depression she faced.
‘To my 17-year-old self, who would get to school only to get food thrown at her and her friends.
‘To my 19-year-old, self who had almost every producer/songwriter tell me they’d never work with me.
Sad: She admitted that her 13-year-old self (pictured in 2011) ‘was terribly ashamed of herself and afraid of the world’
‘Hell, to myself a few days ago, who felt disgusting when she looked in the mirror!
‘I’m trying to remind myself more and more that every day is a new opportunity to shift your reality and lift your spirit. You are not defined by any one choice or thing.
‘Time heals and nothing is finite. It’s a process that’s never too late to begin. And so, here we go! This might be a weird thing to post but the honesty feels good if nothing else.’
Rebecca faced years of torment for a fun thing she did with friends as a kid.
She was in middle school when she learned about ARK Music Factory, a music label that customers could pay to write them a song, record it, and put together a corresponding music video.
The company was frequently hired by the wealthy parents of kids and teens in the Los Angeles area to create these sort of novelty music videos.
Not fair: At 15, Rebecca (pictured in the music video) ‘felt like she had nobody to talk to about the depression she faced’
Rough: Even at 17, she ‘would get to school only to get food thrown at her and her friends’
But just a month after it was uploaded to YouTube in February 2011, it went viral, and viewers around the world mocked Rebecca.
It got worse: Rebecca received death threats from strangers online, and had to drop out of high school and be homeschooled because things got so bad.
She’s spoken out about her ordeal before. In October 2019, she told Billboard that her viral fame has a major impact on who she is.
‘Everyone has moments that go bad or good, and that’s totally fine. But beneath all of that, there’s a person. I was a kid,’ she said.
‘[The backlash] certainly affected me growing up, in positive and negative ways, as to who I am and the insecurities I had as a teenager.
‘It’s been a really weird journey. It’s definitely not been an easy, feel-good story.’
‘It wasn’t really the kind of attention any 13-year-old girl wants,’ she told Entertainment Weekly in 2014.
Growing: She’s still working on it, and said that even a few days ago, she ‘felt disgusting when she looked in the mirror’
Success: Rebecca continues to make music and has a million and a half YouTube subscribers
‘It wasn’t really the kind of attention any 13-year-old girl wants,’ she said of the traumatic experience, which forced her to drop out of school
And in 2017, she told NBC News she was ‘was hurt to my core by the intense nastiness’ that she ‘shut down’ to cope.
‘In my life, there were people I personally knew at school and in my inner circle who verbally abused me. But then there were also complete strangers from all around the world using social media to deride me, degrade me and even worse; some people threatened my life,’ she went on.
‘I once met someone who had bullied me online, and she told me to my face that she hadn’t ever considered that I was actually a real, living, breathing human being,’ she recalled.
‘People still say hateful things about me, but it happens less often these days. And, as an adult, it is easier for me to maintain a sense of perspective.
‘I do understand now that bullying also says so much about the pain of the bully; no one will ever bully others if they feel good enough themselves.’