In an exclusive interview with REVOLT, Normani talks about being more vulnerable in her music, letting fans in on her personal journey and her commitment to making the entertainment industry more inclusive. If you hadn’t already heard, the award-winning singer-songwriter, dancer and producer is the face of Cracker Jack’s latest snack campaign Cracker Jill, which aims to uplift and encourage women across the board. As a part of the collaboration, Normani delivered her own reimagining of the classic song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” To top that off, a Black woman artist by the name of Monica Ahanonu illustrated the new snack bag design, bringing to life five Cracker Jill characters and ensuring more young women feel represented by way of the beloved company.
Normani’s promotional song follows on the heels of her latest single “Fair,” which she discusses in depth during the exclusive chat. The buzzing heartbreak track sees the R&B singer let go of a love she felt betrayed her. “I often think that people put celebrities on such a pedestal,” she told REVOLT on Zoom. “I cried at night, and this is what that sounds like.” The vocalist believes her upcoming album will allow fans to get to know the woman behind the music better, as she aims to relate to her listeners through her real-life experiences.
This sentiment of honest engagement touches all of Normani’s business endeavors, including her new snack collaboration, of course. “It is not every day that you can partner with a brand that morally speaks the same language as you,” Normani said, referencing Cracker Jill’s community efforts. Alongside its own $200,000 donation to the Women’s Sports Foundation, the brand plans to mail out a gift bag for every $5 or more donated by supporters.
REVOLT connected with the star to discuss the campaign as well as her recent studio sessions, creating visibility for women and LGBTQ+ fans, the different stages of healing and more. Check out our conversation below.
Photo Credit: Frito-Lay
For over 125 years, Cracker Jack has been synonymous with baseball. Now, you are partnering with the snack company to introduce Cracker Jill. How does it feel to celebrate women athletes?
Being a part of such a monumental and massive brand [was significant]. The fact that they were willing to trust me to be the face of a pivotal moment is special. The brand is pushing the needle and as a Black woman, I felt really honored by the opportunity. I am such a girl’s girl.
I love any chance I am able to celebrate women and make them feel confident about themselves and everything they have to offer. Also, I come from a sports background. I was a competitive gymnast and a dancer. The brand could not align more perfectly with everything I believe in.
I really just want to encourage young girls. I hope they know it is okay to be boisterous, bold and athletic. There is beauty in that. It should be celebrated. I love the fact that every little girl is able to see themselves [with this brand activation].
Who are some of the women you most love in sports?
I love Dominique Dawes. I love Misty Copeland. She’s a [principal dancer and] ballerina. I was really impressed by a lot of women in sports. You know, they look like me, especially Black women. It made me feel like everything they were achieving was not so out of reach but attainable.
Seeing them made it feel real. I think that representation, being so young, would have been [impactful]. Cracker Jill, for me, would have done a lot and would have been just as important as it is going to be for young girls today. I love women across the board.
Monica Ahanonu, a Black artist, brought the Cracker Jill characters to life. What do you believe the five featured identities will teach other brands about representation?
That it’s important! I feel like it could all be so simple. I think that Monica really did her thing. We are in 2022. Unfortunately, we have to have the conversations that we are [currently] but like I’ve mentioned, I am really honored.
What I want other brands to take from Cracker Jill is — I do not want to say [the diversity] is ‘ahead,’ but she is taking a bold step. We are able to start a conversation that needs to be had. I think we will definitely start seeing more representation among other brands. This is one way to be more inclusive. I hope that it is not because it is the trendy thing to do.
I hope progress will be made because people believe everyone deserves to be represented. Every little girl should be able to see themselves — whether on TV or in the modeling industry, wherever you may have it. Representation was important for me growing up. It truly allowed me to believe that I, too, could achieve anything I set out to do. This is because I saw other Black women doing great things.
Beside you, both female and non-binary voices drive the campaign. Why was it meaningful for your LGBTQ+ fans to be included?
Again, because I feel everyone deserves to be represented! You deserve to be seen no matter your sexual orientation, what you identify as, or your shape. [Inclusivity matters] in spite of your skin color, etc. At the end of the day, people are people.
I believe Cracker Jill has enabled me to be at the forefront of these conversations. They actually change the way the industry moves. I am so proud of being a part of [the bigger picture]. Anything I do is intentional. I make sure my involvement aligns with everything I stand for. So, being able to partner here shows it is cool to be inclusive (laughs)!
Ahead of the collab, you dropped your single “Fair.” Did you have to push past heartbreak while recording the track? Is it tough to be vulnerable with the world watching?
I did not force myself to push past it. I am honestly still feeling things currently. I allow myself to trust the process and the different stages of healing. Yes, there is grief with heartbreak. It is kind of a loss. The good and the bad go away.
So, I really brought my heart to this record. The single is [more honest] than anything I have ever touched. From everything I have released up until this point, ‘Fair’ means the most to me. I think that the world still has yet to know who I am.
I often think that people put celebrities on such a pedestal. It feels like, ‘No! My heart was broken just like I am sure yours has been.’ We have all experienced this. I felt betrayed. I felt hurt. I cried at night, and this is what that sounds like.
The next visual piece has yet to come out. Still, I really forced myself to take myself emotionally back to that place. It was triggering for sure. The recording was also very healing. I thank God I was able to turn that moment into something beautiful.
What can we anticipate from your forthcoming release this summer? Can we expect an EP or an album?
Oh, girl! If I released an EP, my fans would fire me (laughs). The fans have been waiting patiently but eagerly. I am grateful for them. I know that sometimes it can be hard supporting me. I take my time.
I am incredibly critical of myself. They can expect a range and conversations that I have never had publicly. They can also expect to see me in different ways and all of the layers that make me — not the artist but the person. I really think that this is an opportunity for the world to get as close to Normani as possible.
Sonically and lyrically, I have become a much better songwriter and producer. That is also due to the fact I have been in rooms with literally the best [in the music business]. I am like a sponge. I love to learn. If there is something I do not know, I ask questions.
I am like this even if it means sitting in the corner to watch a producer that I look up to. I just love knowing things! So, I have been able to wear many hats. I think everybody is going to be able to see the growth for sure.