Camila Cabello’s fame story is both inspiring, and kind of unbelievable. As a young kid, she suffered from extreme social phobia. Her Cuban mom, and Mexican dad, wanted better for her, so her parents left their home countries, making a long, difficult, (and dangerous, in her dad’s case) journey for a better life in America. Cabello battled her crippling shyness to reach TV audiences on The X Factor…but her journey of professional highs and lows, and personal fulfillment, was only beginning. Here are 42 Harmonious Facts about Camila Cabello.
1. A Little White Disney Lie
Who can blame Cabello’s mom for a fib of that magnitude? She knew emigrating from Cuba to the US was going to be very difficult, and she had just $500 saved to get her and Cabello there. To make it less traumatic, Cabello’s mom told the then 6-year-old girl that they were going on a trip to Disney World.
2. Are We There Yet?
Camila Cabello and her mom journeyed from Havana, to Mexico. They had Cuban visas to get them across the border into Texas, but border services still detained them for a short period. After the officials released them, the pair embarked on a 36-hour bus ride to Miami.
3. Sky’s the Limit
Camila Cabello told Rolling Stone that her mother’s ultimate destination was always the US. Cabello added, her mother wanted them to live where there was “no ceiling” to whatever Cabello wanted to do.
4. Swim for Your Life
Camila Cabello and her mom didn’t leave her dad behind. As a Mexican citizen, he had no visa document, so he had to follow them into the US—by making a dangerous swim across the Rio Grande. Talk about feeling gratified to be a North American citizen!
5. Think Beverly Hills, 90210
Cabello's mother had been an architect in her native Havana. Upon entering the US, she worked long hours for low pay at Marshalls, faking an address in a rich neighborhood so Cabello could get into a good, safe public school.
6. Working At The Carwash
Her father washed cars to earn cash. In 2016, he finally got his green card.
You can sit this one out, Supergirl. Cabello’s story beats any comic book heroine—and she’s not ashamed to admit it. Cabello says she’s “super proud” of where she comes from, and “super proud” of her culture.
8. Don’t Blame Espresso
Cuban coffee can hype anyone up—but that’s not the reason Cabello called herself “overstimulated” as a kid. She’s revealed that there was a disturbing dark side to her shyness. It was so bad that she suffered from emotional and physical pain. “I hated family parties,” she’s admitted, and to escape, she’d lock herself in a room and cry.
9. Who Knew?
Apparently, no one knew, according to Cabello. With her extreme shyness as a kid, the road to worldwide pop stardom would generally seem incomprehensible. She’s even admitted, people she knows never saw this coming for her.
Sign up to our newsletter.
History’s most fascinating stories and darkest secrets, delivered to your inbox daily. Making distraction rewarding since 2017.
10. She Gave Up 15 Pinatas For This
A quinceañera is a traditional celebration for teen girls in many Latin American countries—it’s been compared to an old-school “debutante ball” in the US. On their 15th birthday, Latin girls dress in a ball gown, and wear a tiara. They’re thrown a lavish party, complete with a banquet, a multi-tiered cake, and cash gifts.
Camila Cabello declined the party—practically every girl’s dream—but even more astonishing, Cabello also gave up her chance to take a whack at a symbolic 15 quinceañera pinatas…I mean, who does that?!
11. No Stranger Danger Here
Cabello’s Achilles heel may have been her painful childhood shyness, but she bravely battled previously insurmountable phobias, trying out for The X Factor at just 14 years old. She did provide insight into this, telling an interviewer there was far less risk in performing, and exposing herself to strangers, then to people she knew at home, or school.
12. Super Goofiness…a Remedy for Crippling Shyness
Camila Cabello knew that being on The X Factor was her shot. She took a huge, gutsy chance to reinvent herself, acting “super goofy and confident” to hide the fact that she was “dying inside” from her social phobia.
13. A Demi-Goddess Speaks
When Cabello later performed on The X Factor, as part of a Simon Cowell-hatched girl group, judge Demi Lovato had to admit that Cabello was the only standout, and the other girls had better “learn” from her. #AWKWARD.
14. For One Brief Shining Moment…It was Harmony
Talk about PR in overdrive. We all know now how Fifth Harmony tumbled into discord, but the machinated girl group was initially marketed as a “rare musical act,” even described as a “fairy tale.” The group did score both triple platinum, and top ten hits, and they do have the distinction of being the most successful alum from the American version of The X Factor.
15. Indistinctive Harmonies
Fifth Harmony was a massive success—but behind the scenes, trouble was brewing. As their fame grew, Cabello soon got tired of being unallowed to express her individuality as a performer, and songwriter.
16. Pinup Girl Mentality
Another “factor” in her split from Fifth Harmony, was Cabello’s distaste in revealing so much flesh. The other girls implicitly wanted to dress more provocatively, and although Cabello has admitted that nobody “put a gun” to her head to do it, she wasn’t into being that revealing, style-wise.
17. The 5H Club
After initial solo success, including working with other producers, independent of Fifth Harmony, Camila Cabello approached her bandmates, asking to put her own lyrics to some of their tunes. The “club” closed ranks on her, denying her request.
18. The Forecast Calls for Jealousy
Cabello’s Fifth Harmony bandmates got so testy with her branching out into solo success, they issued an ultimatum. Cabello was apparently told to either stay in the group—or split and go solo. In December 2016, Fifth Harmony released a frosty statement that Cabello’s ‘representatives’ told them she was leaving the group immediately.
19. A Blindsiding Moment
When Camila Cabello tuned into the 2017 MTV VMAs at home, she was utterly devastated. On the show, she watched as her old group Fifth Harmony outright dissed her. During their performance on the awards show, Fifth Harmony used a body double to represent Cabello. They had the shadowy “Cabello” figure violently yanked offstage, symbolizing Cabello’s departure from the group. Talk about hitting an un-classy note, ladies.
20. Don’t Make Life Like A Petri Dish
Cabello’s introspection is remarkable, given her youth, but her life experience has probably given her a greater maturity. Although the negativity surrounding her departure from Fifth Harmony initially damaged her, Cabello now says that she took it too seriously. She understands that most other people don’t really put her under the microscope, to judge her like she thought they did.
21. Simon Said
Camila Cabello has said that Simon Cowell unexpectedly gave her some valuable advice, regarding her solo career. Cowell told her to stay true to herself, because “no one can make 'you' for you."
22. Crying Yourself to Sleeplessness
Wish they made a pillow for this. In May 2017, Cabello released her first solo single, “Crying in The Club.” While it was exciting, Cabello was terrified too. She revealed on a BBC radio show, she didn’t sleep for two weeks before the song was released.
23. Cowell Knows Best
Cabello’s first solo track climbed to #47 on Billboard’s Hot 100—not a raging success. Her manager explained that “Crying in The Club” didn’t “feel or sound like Camila,” and she’d be more successful when everyone trusted her “own instincts.” Just picture that “told you so” scowl on Simon Cowell’s mug.
24. Just Plain Camila
There’s absolutely nothing plain about the stunning Cabello. But, when it came time to naming her debut solo album, the best they could come up with was The Hurting, The Healing, The Loving. Blessedly, some record company marketing genius vetoed that soap opera-sounding nonsense, and they simply named the album Camila.
25. To Thine Own Hip Hop Self Be True
Cabello calls Camila the best representation of who she is artistically. The album features a multitude of sounds, from Caribbean, and Latin, to Cabello’s hip hop influences.
26. Hometown Throwdown
Camila Cabello was born in Havana—she knows a thing or two about the legendary Cuban capital. She threw some of that hometown magic into her single “Havana,” and it was a huge success! “Havana” topped both the album, and singles charts at once—no other artist has accomplished that feat, since Queen Bey in 2003.
27. Record Company Gets an F in Geography
Cabello’s record company was not in favor of releasing “Havana” as her debut single. Cabello said the executives thought it was a “cool piece” …but only “Latin people” would get it. Cabello stood her ground, telling the record company to “put it out and see what happens.” What happened was, Cabello took that record company to school.
28. Make Like a Bear and Hug Me
Apparently, Camila Cabello is a diehard hugger. She’s been known to wrap any willing person into a full-on bearhug…from waiters, to nail techs, to music industry people, and most importantly—her legions of fans.
29. No Princess Fantasies Here
When Cabello was nearing her 15th birthday, the traditional Latin celebration should have been a lavishly planned quinceañera. Cabello would’ve been dressed like a princess, in a ballgown and tiara. Cabello declined her quinceañera, asking instead to be loaded into the unglamorous family minivan, along with her mom, dad, kid sister, and grandma, for a twelve-hour drive from Miami to North Carolina, so she could take a shot at auditioning for producers of The X Factor.
30. Cowell’s Brainchild
Cabello’s audition for The X Factor didn’t result in a fairy tale ending—at first. They chose her as an “alternate” contestant, but even that glimmer of hope crashed down weeks later, when they sent her home. In a Prince Humperdinck-gone-good moment, it was Simon Cowell who snapped her back into the spotlight, when he hastily formed a girl group with four other rejected hopefuls. This group—eventually becoming Fifth Harmony—placed third in the competition, and they scored a record deal too.
31. Granny Gets Down
Cabello’s maternal granny is exceptionally proud of her. Cabello revealed in an interview with Jimmy Fallon, her grandma streams “Havana” nonstop, and gran has a “visceral” (AKA full-on, getting down to it) reaction to the tune, because it’s such a nod to their Cuban roots.
32. Granny’s Twitter Fail
Camila Cabello also admitted that granny signed up for Twitter—and a monumental Twitter fail happened when granny tweeted out Cabello’s mom’s phone number by accident!
33. A Mendes Moving Violation
Cabello met Canadian heartthrob Shawn Mendes when they toured together in 2014, and they (initially) seemed content with their buddy status. In 2015, Mendes admitted to TV host James Corden that he’d tried making a “move” on Cabello, but she swerved him. Give it time, Shawn-boy…give it time.
34. A Relationship Zoning Issue
Camila Cabello’s interpretation of Shawn Mendes’ early intentions seems to be vastly different. In the same 2015 interview with James Corden, Cabello told the host that Mendes “friend-zoned” her, and always called her “kid!”
35. Be Truthful…We Dare You
In April 2015, Mendes played some game called “Lips, Wife or Leave It” during a radio interview. Given a trio of starlets to choose from, as a potential life-mate, Mendes said he would marry “close pal” Cabello, admitting, “she rocks.” Not exactly cheesy-romantic, but yeah, we’ll take it!
36. What About You Two?
When Cabello and Mendes dropped the track “I Know What You Did Last Summer” in 2015, it was an international hit. Although it didn’t officially mark the beginning of their romantic relationship…it sure got everyone wondering…
37. She’s His Person
In 2018, Mendes made a tear-jerking revelation in an interview. He said that Cabello is his “favorite person in the whole world.” Cabello tweeted that she cried when she found that out, adding she loves him “so much.”
38. “Shawmila” is Finally a Thing
Cabello and Mendes dropped single number deux in June 2019. Sultry, steamy “Señoríta” sent the pair’s devotees in overdrive, becoming a bigger international hit. And go figure…within days of the song’s debut, Cabello broke up with her boyfriend of one year, Matthew Hussey.
39. No Swears for You
Camila Cabello insists on no swear words in her tunes—to be a “good example” to her sister Sofia, who is a decade younger than Cabello.
40. She’s A Billie Girl
Cabello says her little sister Sofia loves Billie Eilish more than her! Joking (or totally not) aside…both Cabello and Eilish admit that Sofia broke into tears, meeting Eilish for the first time.
41. Here Are a Few of Her Favorite Things
Camila Cabello answered some hard-hitting questions in a rapid-fire, sixty-second interview for Teen Vogue…like her Zodiac sign (Pisces), her favorite fruit (bananas, with everything), her favorite condiment (ketchup, on everything), her favorite egg dish (eggs with tortillas), and her favorite movie (Pretty Woman…she’s watched it four times in one week!)
42. Kiss You in the Middle
Mendes and Cabello aren’t shy about their PDA, and from photos, it’s obvious that they’re meeting somewhere in the middle for all those vertical lip-locks. That’s because Mendes is 6'2” tall, and Cabello is barely 5’2” tall. Someone a whole foot taller needs to start giving a certain tiny lady way more piggybacks.