Becky G became the 'sole provider' of her family at 15: 'It was out of necessity'

·4 min read

Becky G has established a massive career singing and acting for over a decade. But even as she's found success as an international superstar, highlighting the duality of her identity as a second-generation Mexican American, the 25-year-old says that "not everything is what it seems" during her time in the spotlight.

The Los Angeles native opened up in an interview with Teen Vogue about her difficult upbringing, explaining that a lack of financial security at home provided her with the drive to provide for her family at a very young age. By nine years old, Becky said she had gone through a "midlife crisis" trying to figure out how to keep them all afloat.

Becky G on developing her work ethic as a young child. (Photo: Getty Images)
Becky G on developing her work ethic as a young child. (Photo: Getty Images)

"We lost our home in the 2008 [financial] crash. My parents were broke and we had to check 'homeless' on our lunch applications. I remember how embarrassing it was to get my lunch taken away because I was in deficit," she said.

Her family had moved into her grandparents' garage as Becky became the "sole provider" at the age of 15. She describes the process as a "parentification," or "when you become the emotional confidante for a parent." The pressure she felt to provide even put her in some unfavorable predicaments as she gained recognition and signed contracts that she didn't fully understand.

"If you told me to run up the mountain, do five spins, clap my hands three times, and do two jumping jacks, I will do it, if it means that I get to provide for my family," she said, noting that a deal she had signed with Dr. Luke and his record label, Kemosabe, forced her into a dead-end with her career as an English-speaking singer. "Thank God, I can speak another language because where I was in my career felt like I was tied to a sinking ship. And it's terrifying to think at 18–19 years old, This is it. This is the end of what you've dedicated your entire life to."

Leaning into her identity as a Latina woman as she started to create Spanish music didn't come without its challenges, especially within an industry that has been called out for tokenizing minorities.

"The industry has a way of being like, 'We already have one [Latina. We don't need another.],'" Becky said. "I grew up watching the Selena movie, and there's that scene where her dad says, 'You're either too Mexican for the Americans or too American for the Mexicans. It's exhausting.' And it’s this unspoken thing that you can't be in the middle."

The Latinx community has also seen her as an inaccurate representative of the culture by way of her perceived privilege in the space.

"When you get to a point in your life and your career like I have, the community that you worked so hard to represent, that community can then identify you as something closer to the fame that you experience," she said. "What people project onto [you] sometimes isn't yours to wear. ... There are times where I was probably perceived as the most successful artist, and I didn't have health care."

This too can apply to more nuanced aspects of colorism or racism that she speaks to within the Latinx culture. "The walk home for me is a lot different than my cousins who are lighter than me but is also a lot different than my friends who are darker than me," she said. "It's about acknowledging that privilege that you may have or relating to what some of that discrimination could possibly feel like."

While Becky maintains her drive to succeed saying "I don't know what [my drive was all about]. I still try to figure it out and unpack it in therapy, but it was out of necessity," she recognized that her definition of success has changed throughout the years as a result of personal and professional experiences. Today, it has more to do with happiness and security.

"When I wake up in the morning, [that's success.] There's success in getting home safely," she said. "I've hit such lows that there [were] times I thought, This [place] could be better without me. It doesn't matter how much you've accomplished, or how successful people perceive you to be. To be here is enough to celebrate."

Her approach to living a quality life has also shifted.

"The fact that we celebrate no sleep and resiliency, it's important that we reflect on it. Let’s start understanding that it's productive to recover, rest and heal. Life's a lot sometimes… but life's just getting started," she said. "I'm leaving room for spontaneity. I'm starting to really enjoy not knowing because that's how I can get inspired by life again."

Wellness, parenting, body image and more: Get to know the who behind the hoo with Yahoo Life's newsletter. Sign up here.