"If you put in perspective what the last four years were and what the next four years could have been, my biggest fear was undoing all of the progress we had made," Becky G tells PEOPLE about the presidential election

By Tomás Mier
Updated November 22, 2020 09:40 PM
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Becky G
| Credit: Emilio Sánchez 

Becky G is no longer the girl fans met nearly seven years ago with her teen pop hit "Shower." Today, at 23, an empowered young woman who epitomizes the Latinx experience as a first-generation Mexican-American.

Becky G is informed. She's honest. And more importantly to her this year, she's an ally.

She recently collaborated with Ozuna on bilingual earworm "No Drama" and she's going strong hosting her En La Sala podcast. On it, she talks to high-profile guests from vice president-elect Kamala Harris about politics to reggaetón sensation J Balvin on mental health.

Ahead of Thursday's Latin Grammys — where she's nominated for her first time in the urban song category for her collab with Gente de Zona — the grounded Latina queen talks to PEOPLE about everything from this year's election to hunkering down with her boyfriend of five years, soccer player Sebastian Lletget.

Becky, it's so nice to talk to you. It's so exciting to see you on top of the world.

I'm super excited for everything that we're going to talk about. I don't know about on top of the world. There's a lot of exciting things happening and I feel super blessed, but this is what I love to do. I see myself like everyone else going to do their job, waking up, brushing their teeth. It is crazy when you hear someone else speak to it from a different perspective because it does shift things a little bit.

That's the Becky G that I know, the humble girl from Inglewood. You're still one of us. Obviously, Joe Biden was elected a few days ago and I know you've been super vocal. You even talked to Kamala Harris on your En La Sala podcast. How were you feeling after the results came out?

BG: Honestly, even in the last election, I was so emotional but obviously this time around for different reasons It was emotionally charged because of the hope that I was feeling and the relief that I was feeling, not to say that there isn't still accountability. I've always said that the power isn't in the position of the politician but in the position of the citizens. It was definitely a historical moment, which is also why I think I was so emotional because it was charged with all of that energy. Election day turned into election week and I was dying of anxiety watching the news every moment trying to stay tuned and engaged, but I'm definitely feeling that hope and that relief for sure.

Becky G
| Credit: Emilio Sánchez 

Yeah. And what are you most hopeful for?

BG: If you put in perspective what the last four years were and what the next four years could have been, my biggest fear was undoing all of the progress we had made. To me, it was bigger than parties. It was not undoing the progress we had made and capitalizing on it and continuing the movement toward justice for so many people, for the Brown and Black community, for the LGBTQ+ community, our immigration rights, and things that protect us in our Latino community. There are so many things from a political standpoint that are still going to be affected, but hopefully more positively now that there's obviously been a change.

I've seen you be so vocal about the Black Lives Matter movement. I'm Mexican and it's clear that there's this ingrained racism in our culture that, as young people, we have to unteach. Why have you been so open and vocal?

BG: I think it really comes with educating yourself on your own privilege. I'm a light-skinned Latina and even then I have faced moments of discrimination. Sadly for our Latinx community, it's very common, but if you ask anyone, "Would you like to be treated like a Black person on this earth?" They would say no because they know. And that's leaning into your privilege and saying, "I can do better." Allyship is so important to me. And especially because exactly what you said, it's embedded in our culture, that anti-Blackness. It makes me really sad but at the same time, it's not hard to unlearn because we do have access to so many resources that we can change the future generations to come.

Definitely.

BG: It's funny because these are things that we aren't even aware of. When we say the Black community and the Latino community, we are separating the Blacks versus the whites versus the Browns, but there's a difference between ethnicity and race. Even that within itself, we have Black Latinas and for us to speak as if they don't exist, it's very unfair. Leaning into my privilege and really educating myself has been one of the most challenging, but at the same time, rewarding and beautiful experiences, especially this year. I feel like I've lived nine lives at this point, but I'm only 23 and I feel like where I am today and what I've learned up until this point, this year was not about music for me.

How was this year different?

It was about being a sister first, being a daughter first, being a partner first, being an ally, being a friend. When I talked to my team about these things very, early on in the year, I was like, "Guys this is what I want to lean into." And they stood right beside me and they embarked on that journey with me. And like I said, it's been a very hard but beautiful experience because these conversations are so needed within our community.

Props to you for doing that. You recently had Lauren Jauregui on your En La Sala podcast on an episode about queer identities. To hear you provide an avenue for her to open up about her identity and the effects of "shipping" while she was in Fifth Harmony ... the conversation cleared up some pent-up drama and allowed her to open up.

When you put allyship in the context of all of these things, it's so important. And when we talk about our Latinx community, I think that just as much as our anti-Blackness is embedded in us, it's also embedded in us to think this is what a man should do, this is what a woman should do. Lauren and I have always hit it off differently. She's my dragonfly soul sister. The queer episode was really to shine a light upon the trauma that comes with growing up in a Latinx family. Even if your parents are supportive, it doesn't mean that it makes it easy.

For sure.

When she was speaking to her experience of being in a group and what it was like for people to say, "Hey, you belong with this person and this is what you should be doing." She was like, "It was overwhelming and so scary," because she identified as queer but the other person didn't. And that was a close friend of hers and a friendship that she really held so close to her heart. That sisterhood that we have, whether we speak every single day or we pick up right where we left off six months ago, that's the person she is.

What's hosting this podcast been like for you?

It's new to me. I've never hosted anything in my life ever,. Award shows, yeah, but it's different. You have a teleprompter and whatever. For my podcast, my biggest goal was just getting down to the real s— and saying, "This is what we have to talk about because if we don't here, where else are we going to?”

It's been the perfect avenue for having conversations considering the year we’ve had. I want to shift gears and talk about reggaetón. You dropped your debut album Mala Santa in 2019 and you spoke up about the genre being snubbed at the Latin Grammys last year. This year you're nominated in the "urban song" category with Gente de Zona — I hate the term urban when describing music — but what is it like to be recognized this time around?

We can't know what we're doing wrong unless we're having these conversations. Just like we get a new version of a car every single year, I feel like these award shows as well need to be upgraded and updated to be a reflection of the music that stands today. When we talk about pop music, it's funny because yeah, there's traditional pop music, but at the same time, what does pop mean? It means popular, right?

Exactly.

So pop music to me is reggaetón. Anywhere that I go, people know and recognize Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Nicky Jam, Daddy Yankee. Especially, Yankee. He's the king. He trailblazed the path. And as a young woman in this space, you feel it twice as hard to not be acknowledged. Just to be recognized means everything to me, whether we take the award home or not, I'm so good.

For sure. What does representation mean to you? Talk to me about your Latina identity.

Representation is so key, right? I hate labels but at the same time, they're so important to recognize and be able to make progress. When people told me I was Latina, I was like, "Yeah, I'm Latina." When they told me I was Hispanic, I was like, "Yes, I'm Hispanic," not knowing what these things meant. And as you get educated on these things and you recognize, "Oh, okay, where does my Latina come from?” I did a DNA test that really broke it down for me. I was like, "Whoa, 35% of my blood is indigenous." And then my dad did it and my dad was almost 50% indigenous and it blew my mind. When I was learning about who I am, where I come from, what runs through my blood, that Brown pride was everything to me.

And then you put it in the context of the space as far as a career that I'm trying to accomplish, it's even weirder. Because people are like, "A Mexican girl singing reggaetón? That's weird. Why not pop? Why not romantic music? Why not rancheras?” And I love all of that and I will one day, but I grew up in Inglewood. I grew up listening to Tupac and Biggie Smalls and TLC and super R&B as well as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, so the mix was just insane. And for me to now represent two flags I think is everything to me because I know I'm not the only one.

You definitely aren't the only one.

It took a lot of courage. It was one of my biggest fears to sing in Spanish in my career. The Spanish press can be so quick to judge you because of your pocha accent or because you're not Mexican enough. And for me, I know I'm not the only one. We need that representation.

I can definitely relate to that. Switching gears again, you've been dating Sebastian Lletget for a while now and you've talked about spending time together during the quarantine. What keeps you two strong?

I think our friendship is the core foundation of all of it. There's this mutual respect for one another and it's always been there since the very beginning and we see each other as equals — that really makes a difference. I don't believe in gender roles. I always told him I'd pay for dates sometimes. I told him, "I work too, I work hard and if I want to treat you, I can treat you and I hope that doesn't make you feel weird." And he's always had this respect as well and admiration for my hustle. We relate to each other so much, because he started working at such a young age. We both know the sacrifices that we put in as well as our families.

Becky G and Sebastian Lletget
| Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty

I love you two together so much.

BG: You put it in the context of 2020, and it's been hard, man. It's been really, really hard in so many ways, but in the context of our relationship, it's been the biggest blessing because we were never able to really spend time like this together. And it's a beautiful thing because I cook now more than ever. We hang out, we watch movies, we meditate together. I don't want to say dream scenario, because nothing's perfect but if I was going to put my heart into something, especially a relationship when so many other things in my life are so crazy and hectic, this is the most beautiful situation anyone could be in and it's because we have that love and respect for each other.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.