Hayley Kiyoko Struggled to Find an Opportunity in Music — Now, She's Giving Women Artists Exactly That
The singer will be mentoring an up-and-coming woman artist, as will Bebe Rexha and Kacey Musgraves
Hayley Kiyoko’s biggest struggle as a musician was getting an opportunity.
PEOPLE spoke exclusively with the 28-year-old singer and actress as she begins her partnership with Bumble Bizz, which is helping bridge the gender gap and giving women musicians the chance to break through in the industry.
“I think that when we have opportunities, our ability is limitless and so it feels amazing and I want to be able to give that back,” Kiyoko told PEOPLE. “Getting the opportunity to just be myself and be able to express myself was very freeing.”
The “Girls Like Girls” singer just finished touring the world following the release of her debut album Expectations last year. The album featured Kehlani on “What I Need,” which has garnered over 51 million streams on Spotify.
Now, she’s ready to hit the stage at multiple music festivals this summer, where three women will get the chance to receive guidance and mentorship from Kiyoko, Bebe Rexha or Kacey Musgraves, thanks to “Empowered by Bumble Bizz.”
“It’s incredible what Bumble is doing to empower women and to challenge the gender gap in the music industry,” she said. “I’m very excited to help inspire and also give female artists an opportunity to shine.”
The initiative, kickstarted by the Bumble app, allows up-and-coming women musicians to submit their work via Bumble Bizz for a chance to receive mentorship from Rexha, Kiyoko or Musgraves — along with the possibility of performing at a 2020 music festival.
Why women? A USC Annenberg study found that just 17 percent of artists on the year-end charts were women.
Bumble partnered with festivals Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, Music Midtown, Austin City Limits, and Voodoo to help diversify their lineups. Only 19 percent of artists on festival lineups are made up of women, according to Pitchfork.
“As an artist and as a person, we all just want to have an opportunity to be not only the best version of ourselves but have an opportunity to express ourselves,” Kiyoko said about the importance of artistry. “I think that I’m really focused on trying to put my energy into things of that nature and also just help people.”
Despite her success though, the former Disney Channel actress said she doesn’t see herself “at a level of mentorship,” but that she’s ready to help other women artists succeed.
“I’m still figuring everything out day by day, but it feels exciting and really good to be able to share my experiences with others and also hear their experiences,” she said. “[And also] be able to support one another in our artistry as women.”
As an outspoken advocate for underrepresented communities — she is dubbed Lesbian Jesus, after all — Kiyoko has been a vocal supporter of the LGBTQ community.
“Pride is scary for most. It’s scary to love yourself and be proud of who you are. It makes you vulnerable. It’s scary to love yourself boldly and freely in fear that maybe you are wrong, or nobody else will love you,” she wrote on Instagram. “But the relationship you have with yourself is the most important. Build that bond and be kind to yourself.”
The “Curious” singer also just finished shooting the second season of Kerry Washington-produced show Five Points, which premieres Aug. 5 on Facebook Watch. Along with its premiere, Kiyoko said that “lots of fun, exciting things” will be happening during the summer — and maybe, new music!
“I don’t know what to expect, I don’t want to put any expectations on it,” she said (no pun intended, of course). “I’m really loving the new music and I think everyone will love it. I’m excited to share it with you all once it’s ready.”
Visit Bumble‘s website for more information.