Ally Brooke Is Ready to 'Eat Lots of Tamales' and Bake Cookies with Her Dad This Christmas
After dropping her memoir Finding Your Harmony and filming her first movie this year, Brooke tells PEOPLE she's excited to spend time with her family during the holidays
Baby, she's coming home for Christmas!
Ally Brooke is back in her hometown of San Antonio after a whirlwind 2020, when she released her memoir Finding Your Harmony, dropped her first-ever Christmas original "Baby I'm Coming Home" and even filmed her first movie.
"I'm counting my blessings for sure," Brooke, 27, tells PEOPLE.
"I'll definitely eat lots of tamales, make lots of queso and Mexican food," the Fifth Harmony alum says. "I also love to make Christmas cookies with my dad [Jerry] and my little cousin so definitely still doing that."
"My dad has thousands of lights on the house already," she adds. "It looks like a winter wonderland and just being together, watching movies, spending time, cooking, baking, that's what's so special for me."
Brooke returned home to San Antonio this month to perform a rendition of her idol Selena Quintanilla's "Fotos y Recuerdos" on Spanish network Univision for their Teletón USA special, aimed at helping children with disabilities. The performance came just several weeks after Brooke was invited by Netflix — and Selena's family! — to host a preshow for the Selena: The Series.
"I was so honored to pay tribute to one of the most magnificent humans to ever grace this Earth," she raves about Selena. "She was such a beautiful soul and just brought so much light to everybody she encountered. She did things from her heart. She was real and genuine and full of love."
Brooke cites Selena as her biggest inspiration. Over the past few years, she's covered her songs on tour and during televised performances and even danced to "Dreaming of You" during Dancing with the Stars last fall. In her memoir, Brooke even revealed that Selena's sister Suzzette once told her that she reminded her of the late Tejano singer.
"I just dreamt of meeting them, but the fact that they're now friends and they've been so supportive of me is very surreal," she says of Selena's family. "I have to pause sometimes and think about it and just say a little prayer of gratitude. They've inspired me to chase my own dreams so it's definitely something that I take as a gift."
2020 was a year of firsts for Brooke. Along with her first Christmas song and memoir, Brooke briefly disappeared from social media before revealing that she filmed her first film, High Expectations, where she plays the role of Sofía.
"That was definitely a moment in time I'm going to look back on and always smile and cherish it because we filmed a movie during a pandemic," she says. "It was such a beautiful story and the crew was like family. They took me in like I was their own and it was so special. To bring [my character Sofia's] story to life and to see how she is a light in her own way in this film is something that is really wonderful."
Following her experience with this film, she says she's "absolutely" going to do more acting in the future.
"I really am looking for stories that really hit home or kind of have a lot of depth or layers to them or some fun, comedic and romantic roles," she says. "I can't wait to continue to do more film and TV and hopefully even one day Broadway, I would absolutely just jump for joy for that."
And after a year of EDM-tinged collabs — such as No. 1 "All Night" and "What Are We Waiting For?" with Afrojack, "Feeling Dynamite" with Joe Stone and "Dance It Off" with Laidback Luke — Brooke says she's ready to "hopefully" drop her debut album in the new year and go back on tour.
"Those records really get me pumped and energized, and I'm going to definitely continue to do touches of that, but you're going to see different versions of pop music from me," she says of her own music. "I've done a lot of collabs, but my own solo music is definitely going to lean more pop. I'm super excited about my new songs."
For the holidays, Brooke is also giving back. Inspired by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Light the Night campaign, Brooke surprised Caitlin, a 12-year-old fan who battled a rare form of leukemia.
"I was so moved and inspired and we were so connected because we had so many similarities," she says about meeting Caitlin. "She said that Fifth Harmony's music got her through and that was something that was so powerful and so beautiful. It was such a beautiful blessing to surprise her, to make her smile. she really touched my life."
"I cannot imagine what it's like to go through that, but with the LLS, you're not alone and they really root these patients on," she adds about the organization."I was lucky to get to know Caitlin's story and her bravery and strength."
Learn more about the LLS' Light the Night campaign here.
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