"People just called me the most hurtful and ignorant and horrible names," FKA twigs said on BBC Radio 4's Grounded with Louis Theroux

By Jen Juneau
January 27, 2021 11:12 AM
FKA Twigs; Robert Pattinson
FKA Twigs (L); Robert Pattinson
| Credit: Jeff Spicer/BFC/Getty Images; Kevin Winter/Getty Images

FKA twigs is speaking out about some of the racist abuse she endured from fans while in a high-profile relationship.

In a recent conversation on BBC Radio 4's Grounded with Louis Theroux podcast, released Monday, the 33-year-old actress and singer (née Tahliah Debrett Barnett) said that people called her "the most hurtful and ignorant and horrible names on the planet" during her relationship with now-ex Robert Pattinson.

"It was really, really deeply horrific and I think it was at a time where I felt like I couldn't really talk about it," added Barnett. "I feel like if I was going through that now, I would be able to talk about it and do some good with it."

The "Don't Judge Me" singer said she wasn't sure if the hate she got "was because of my age or whether it was because of the social climate or whether it was because being Black and from Cheltenham (in the U.K.) and from a low-income family, and having to genuinely work twice as hard at everything I do to get a seat at the table."

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robert pattinson; fka twigs
Robert Pattinson and FKA Twigs
| Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Barnett continued of the Twilight actor, 34 — who she got engaged to in early 2015 and split from in 2017 after more than two years together — "He was their white Prince Charming and I think they considered that he should definitely be with somebody white and blonde and ... not me."

Some of the racist "bullying" went so far as to compare the singer to a monkey. As she explained, "Say if I was wearing a red dress, they would have a [photo of a] monkey in a red dress, or if I was on a bike, they'd find a monkey on a bike."

"I just remember it had this massive, dysmorphic effect on me for about six months to a year, where every time I saw my pictures, in photographs, I would think, 'Gosh, I look like a monkey and people are gonna say that I look like a monkey, so I need to really try and hide this monkey-ness that I have,' " Barnett recalled.

While the "ridiculous" comments affected her "psychologically" at the time, the star said she is "confident" about her appearance now. "It was deeply unfair at the time that I was made to feel so self-conscious and so ugly. It was a lot. That period was a lot," Barnett said.

FKA Twigs
FKA Twigs
| Credit: Dave Benett/Getty

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Barnett recently filed a lawsuit against ex-boyfriend Shia LaBeouf, in which she alleges he sexually and physically assaulted and battered her throughout their relationship and knowingly gave her a sexually transmitted disease. She also described an incident in which she claimed the Transformers actor threw her against his car at a gas station and berated her publicly. 

The singer further detailed the alleged incident on the BBC podcast, in which she described that LaBeouf was "basically strangling" her in front of bystanders — and they looked on.

Barnett recalled it was a turning point when she realized she needed to leave the relationship.

LaBeouf previously told the New York Times in response to Barnett's lawsuit and allegations: "I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations. I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years. I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I'm ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say."

In a separate email, however, he claimed "many" of the allegations were not true.