FKA twigs suffered racist, abusive attacks from Twilight fans when she was dating Robert Pattinson. FKA twigs, singer, dancer, and actress whose real name Tahliah Debrett Barnett, met Pattinson not very long after his breakup with his Twilight film series costar Kristen Stewart. By 2011, around the premiere of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, Pattinson and Stewart had gone public with their real-life relationship, much to the delight of the film’s rabid fanbase. By 2012, however, they had split amidst Stewart’s scandalous affair with Rupert Sanders, her director on Snow White and the Huntsman
FKA twigs and Pattinson were introduced by mutual friend Sienna Miller (21 Bridges) in 2014, which sparked a whirlwind romance. The two moved in together with FKA twigs sporting what was thought to be an engagement ring only months into their meeting. The couple would ultimately call it quits after nearly three years in 2017. Pattinson went on to date Suki Waterhouse (Pokémon Detective Pikachu). Simultaneously, FKA twigs became embroiled in an abusive relationship with actor Shia LaBeouf (Transformers), whom she met on their film Honey Boy.
FKA twigs told Grounded with Louis Theroux about surviving her abusive period with LaBeouf and the attacks she suffered at the hands of Twilight fans while she was with Pattinson. From constant threats and bullying to outright racist bashing and harassment, she endured the brunt of it from social media “Twihards” who felt she didn’t embody the type of woman Pattinson should be with, mostly due to her skin color.
FKA twigs: It was really, really deeply horrific, and I think it was at a time where I felt like I couldn’t really talk about it, you know? I feel like if I was going through that now, I feel like I’d be able to talk about it and do some good with it. But I don’t know whether it’s because of my age, or whether it’s because of the social climber, or whether it was because being Black and from Cheltenham and from a loving family, or from having to genuinely work twice as hard at everything I do to get a seat at the table. Because that is true, you know people talk about black excellence, but that is because we have to be excellent to be considered average, you know? So I’d worked so so so so so hard just to get like a little see at the table, and then I got there, and people just called me the most hurtful and ignorant and horrible names under the planet.
Theroux: This is trolls on Twitter? People with nasty, racist attitudes who considered that you are unworthy of going out with this guy?
FKA twigs: yeah, of course, because he was that white Prince Charming, and I think they considered that he should definitely be with somebody white and blonde and not me. Whatever I did at that time, people would find pictures of monkeys and have me doing the same thing as the monkeys. If I were like wearing a red dress, they’d have a monkey in a red dress. Or if I were on a bike, they’d find a monkey on a bike. I used to think it was really hurtful but really stupid. And I remember one time they found, like, a picture of my profile, and then they found a picture of a monkey’s profile, and they put them next to each other, and I was like, ‘Wow yeah, that looks the same. Sure. Can’t really argue with that. That looks the same.’ I just remember it had this massive kind of dysmorphic effect on me for about six months to a year, where every time I saw my pictures in photographs, I would think, ‘Gosh, I look like a monkey, and people are gonna say I look like a monkey, so I need to really try and hide this monkeyness that I have because otherwise like people are gonna come for me about it.’ And I remember when I’d, like, take pictures and stuff, I’d really try to kind of hold myself in a different way so that couldn’t happen again. Obviously, I now know that’s completely ridiculous, but it’s essentially bullying, you know, and it does affect you psychologically. It’s really sad. And just for everyone to know, I now love how I look, and I’m very confident, and I feel really good. But, like, it was deeply unfair at the time that I was made to feel so self-conscious and so ugly… And yeah, man, it was a lot.
FKA twigs, who hails from Cheltenham, a town in Gloucestershire, England, is biracial (her mother is white English, and her father is Jamaican). In her interview with Theroux, she reflected on the racism she’s faced since an early age, growing up in a predominantly white town and school setting. Thus, the verbal and emotional assaults she received from Pattinson devotees weren’t wholly new. Still, FKA twigs asserts that despite their attempts to break her down, she remains a confident person, loving herself and how she looks.
It’s horrific to be attacked online by a fanbase that feels “ownership” over a film or the lives of the stars they claim to love, and more disgusting still when those attacks turn racist. It wasn’t long ago that supposed Star Wars fans lost their minds when John Boyega (Attack the Block) starred in The Force Awakens as a stormtrooper, challenging their perception that stormtroopers could only be white. In the same franchise, actress Kelly Marie Tran faced tons of online racist harassment regarding her Asian Vietnamese heritage after starring as Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, causing her to wipe her social media accounts and suffer deep depression. Fortunately, FKA twigs refuses to let anyone destroy who she is or her self-worth, whether it’s an abusive former partner like LaBeouf or racist Twilight fanatics trying to make her life hell.