Letting Her Light Shine
Ally Brooke’s Success Comes from Her Heart
By Dawn Robinette
Photography by David Teran
Chatting with Ally Brooke, it’s easy to understand why she seemingly glows in every picture and video you see of her. It has nothing to do with lighting, hair, or make-up: she radiates from the inside out. Brooke’s inner energy, faith, and positivity shine through and draw you in, leaving no doubt as to why her career has taken off.
“I try my best to always be positive and to uplift others because it’s so important, especially in those hard times. And sometimes you’ve got to uplift yourself,” explains the chart-topping singer, actress, author, and San Antonio native.
She absolutely beams energy and positivity, glowing as she talks about her career, her family, and her deep love of San Antonio.
“I have so much love and pride for my city. I carry it wherever I go,”
she gushes, quickly listing a myriad of reasons why San Antonio will always have her heart and her roots. She’s already purchased a lot where she plans to build her dream home in the Alamo City.
Her focus on positivity and her desire to uplift others is fueled by her own journey.
“I’ve had times when I’ve felt so discouraged, or that it seems impossible to accomplish what I want to do. But I’m here to be that voice to somebody out there and say, ‘You can reach your dreams. You can achieve more than you can imagine’.”
Working to make dreams come true is something Brooke knows well. The multi-talented force of nature began her rise as a teenager on “The X Factor,” the Simon Cowell-helmed musical talent competition show that ultimately paired her with other young, talented singers to create the pop group Fifth Harmony. Successful albums and tours followed, proving that the group was far more than reality show-hype.
When Fifth Harmony went on hiatus, Brooke’s career continued its fantastic trajectory, including a spin under the “Dancing With The Stars” mirror ball. Her solo musical career has kept her in the spotlight as she’s racked up hits on her own and through collaborations with top names in the industry. Along the way, she released a make-up line with Milani and won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Main Title for an Animated Program for the hit Nickelodeon show “The Casagrandes.”
With all of that success under her belt, it would be easy to assume that Brooke has had an easy rise to fame. But what is packaged on reality television doesn’t show the years of hard work and disappointments along the way. “It is not easy at all. Those moments where I was discouraged, when doors were closed or when I didn’t feel good enough, all the tears that I cried, all the questions that I had, all the prayers that I prayed with a broken heart. I just held on to my faith, the faith that God would take care of me and that I would see something beautiful on the other side of the pain.”
That belief planted the seed for “Finding Your Harmony,” a memoir about her life growing up in a tight-knit Hispanic family in San Antonio, her deep Christian faith, and her hopes and dreams for the future. “It was important to me to share my heart and my story.
“I’ve learned that when we’re in the storms of life or the devasting moments, something is waiting on the other side – a beautiful lesson or a beautiful opportunity. We just have to persevere. That is what keeps me going, my faith. And the love of my family and my closest friends to pray for me, to encourage me, to lift me up. That is what helped me. That’s what kept me together.”
Brooke is also quick to give credit to those who encouraged her to follow her dreams from a young age, going back as far as her third-grade teacher, Mrs. Merrill, and Coach Terry Lowery from the Network for Young Artists, who opened the doors for her first performance long ago.
Those influences, along with her strong family roots, continue to provide the foundation and spark to reach her goals. “Just like everyone, I struggle with insecurity. It doesn’t matter how old I am or how successful you are. I think it’s something that people always battle.
My parents gave me the best advice. It’s simple, but it rings so true: just be who I am and shine my light.
“I’ve struggled so much with insecurity and with my confidence. That’s what I struggled with since I was a young child, and my parents would just tell me, ‘Mama, you be yourself. Don’t let anyone steal your light or your joy. You’re going to shine being who you are, and that is who you’re meant to be’. That changed my whole perspective. And to this day, I take that advice with me and keep it in my heart to not change who I am.”
That’s also the advice she wants other young women, especially Latinas, to hear. “When I was 12 years old, coming to Los Angeles, I didn’t see a lot of young, Latin stars or actresses or singers. Now we’re living in such a different time where so many different people and cultures are being represented.
“The Latin community is stronger than ever. And so vibrant and people all over the world and the U.S. are listening to Latin music and Spanish music and loving it. It’s so awesome that we live in a time where everyone is encouraged to be themselves, to shine fully, and to respect each other in our own spaces or creative vibes or whoever we want to be.”
That said, some of the hurdles she shares reflect the challenge of being a young woman in the entertainment industry. And yet, her ever-present positivity shines through. “I’ve had my fair share of people not being nice and men who are empowered, trying to take advantage of their power. But I feel that we’re living in a time now where women are being more respected and listened to.”
“I believe that if you lead with love and respect and you have that care for others, it’s awesome to be able to just be yourself and to love on people. That’s the best thing.”
Her skyrocketing career, including her movie debut in “High Expectations,” where she stars opposite Kelsey Grammar, keeps her on the move. But she makes it home to San Antonio as often as possible to see her family.
“My family means more to me than anything. We’re very tight-knit, and the love there for me is so strong. My favorite thing to do is just to go home, be with my parents, my brother and my cousins, my grandma, and just eat and talk and laugh and be cozy and just share that quality time with each other.”
No matter what else she accomplishes, her family’s reaction takes center stage. “Seeing my parents’ faces, my family’s faces, light up when they see me on stage or see me accomplish a big dream – whether it’s being in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or being a part of ‘Blue’s Clues’ or being in my first film – just seeing their joy and sharing that excitement and those achievements together is priceless.”
Along with honing her cooking and baking skills during COVID—she’s mastered making her own tortillas, her dad’s queso, and a fantastic chocolate pecan pie—she’s been busy working on new music she’s excited to share with everyone, including her family. What means the most to her is that she’s making music her young cousins want to dance to. “They listen to my music and watch my videos nonstop every single day,” she excitedly explains. “I cannot wait to release what I’m working on. You’ll definitely be able to dance to this music and feel the emotion at the same time.
“I’m proud of singing lyrics that I stand by and empowering women and people to be themselves through my art. And being able to sing the music that I’ve always wanted to sing, be myself on stage, be that artist that I’ve always wanted to be and do projects and do things that I’ve always dreamt of,” she explains. “I still have so many more things in my heart and dreams to accomplish, but I’m beyond thankful for what I’ve done to this point. I just thank God every day.”