The Fifth Dimension
Gutsy and gorgeous, the pop songstresses of Fifth Harmony are redefining what it means to be a Girl Group—and we’re not just talking musically.
Hernandez wasn’t supposed to be here. She was born premature, weighing in at 1 pound, 14 ounces—she was so tiny that her father could hold her in one hand. Yet she came out screaming, which meant that her lungs were developed. “My parents joke that I came out singing,” she laughs. It didn’t take too long after her birth for the San Antonio–bred tejana to follow in the footsteps of her idol, the late, great Selena Quintanilla-Pérez.
“I adore Selena. In Texas, she is our angel,” says Hernandez, dressed in a blue sparkly top and a full-length black skirt.
Chances are, Hernandez had a bit of angelic luck when she became an X-Factor contestant, in 2012, and Simon Cowell later matched her with the four other young women who would become 5H. She was 18 when she auditioned for the music reality competition show and was tasked with the challenge of becoming an adult, all while learning to collaborate in a group and be on a nationally televised show.
“It was a whirlwind, and I had to discover who I was as a person coming into my womanhood,” she says.
But Hernandez is well-versed in dealing with her own challenges and those of her loved ones. Her mother, Patricia, was born with scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine. The two were in a car accident in 2005 in which their car was T-boned. Fortunately they walked away without major injuries, but her mom’s scoliosis subsequently became aggravated. And here’s when the normally chipper, adorable Hernandez becomes teary- eyed. She shared her mom’s story with the Harmonizers, 5H’s loyal fan base, and the result is touching.
“A fan at a show this past March gave $100 for my mom’s surgery,” she says, her voice cracking. “So I tweeted that I needed to find her, and that inspired the whole fandom to donate money for my mom by starting a GoFundMe that raised $20,000 for her surgery. It was unbelievable.”
Her mother recently received the surgery and soon after was able to stand up straight for the first time in years.
In the music video for the group’s multiplatinum-selling “Worth It,” Hansen, 18, is the image of pop-singer confidence. Sporting a form-fitting pencil skirt, she sings I may talk a lot of stuff / Guaranteed, I can back it up while pushing away a potential suitor with her high heel. Today, in a small room at the Beacon Theatre, where 5H will perform later tonight, she lets her age show, but after all this is her first Latina cover and, along with Hamilton, she will be the first non-Hispanic to grace the cover of the magazine. “We’re breaking rules right now,” says the Tongan American singer, raising her voice slightly. “I’m actually Hispanic in el corazon. I grew up with a lot of Hispanics in Santa Ana, California.” She also grew up with a lot of younger siblings—four sisters, including a cousin who was adopted by her parents, and four brothers. Coming from a large family eased her transition into the five-woman group.
Dressed in a white zippered tank dress, Hansen flips the voice recorder around in her hands trying to calm her nerves. Speaking to the media still gives her jitters. “We put all of the things that we learned at home into making Fifth Harmony. And it worked.”