Jesy Nelson said she never intended to cause offence after being accused of “blackfishing” in her latest music video.
The former Little Mix singer, 30, was criticised by some social media users for her appearance in the video for Boyz, her debut solo track.
Nelson was accused of blackfishing – the practice of a non-black person trying to appear black – but has denied using fake tan.
During an Instagram Live stream with superstar rapper Nicki Minaj, who featured on Boyz, Nelson said she had been to Antigua in the weeks before the video shoot and that explained her darker skin tone.
The comments came after reports Nelson’s former bandmate Leigh-Anne Pinnock had warned her about blackfishing.
During the livestream, Nelson said: “I personally want to say that my intention was never, ever to offend people of colour with this video and my song because like I said, growing up as a young girl, this is the music that I listened to.
“These are the videos that I watched and thought were the best. For me personally, ’90s/2000 hip hop, R&B music was the best era of music.
“I just wanted to celebrate that. I just wanted to celebrate that era of music because it is what I love.”
She added: “My intention was never, ever, ever want to offend anyone and genuinely it actually does really hurt me that I may have offended people and actually, like, hurt people’s feelings just by genuinely celebrating something that I love.”
Nelson said she is fortunate to easily tan when in the sun and told Minaj that Pinnock had previously commented on her propensity to tan.
And she said her hair is naturally curly after complaints she had changed her style in the Boyz music video.
She added: “I genuinely didn’t think I was doing anything wrong, because I’ve got naturally curly hair.”
Addressing the alleged comments from Pinnock about blackfishing, Nelson said: “It’s just hard for me because I was in a group with two women of colour for nine years and it was never brought up to me up until the last music video I did with them.”
Don’t call things out when they benefit your personal vendetta to ppl. Call them out immediately once you see it chile. Don’t wait a decade after you’ve made millions with the person 🤣 #BoyzOutNow https://t.co/SeXUPFxMyp
— Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ) October 11, 2021
Minaj defended Nelson and appeared to aim several barbs at the members of Little Mix.
Writing on social media after the livestream, Minaj said: “Don’t call things out when they benefit your personal vendetta to ppl. Call them out immediately once you see it chile. Don’t wait a decade after you’ve made millions with the person.”
Nelson announced her departure from Little Mix in December 2020 after nine years in the hugely successful girl group, who have sold more than 50 million records worldwide.
She blamed the toll that being in the band had taken on her mental health.
Nelson recently confirmed she no longer speaks to her ex-bandmates Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards.