Since leaving Fifth Harmony to pursue a solo career in 2016, Camila Cabello has become a bona fide pop star. Her debut single, “Havana,” a piano-powered pop song that traces her childhood in Cuba, skyrocketed to the top of the charts and became an insatiable melody that fans and radio DJs couldn’t stop playing. Shortly after “Havana” hit number one on Billboard‘s charts, so did the 21-year-old’s debut album, Camila, making Cabello’s solo debut one of the most successful in ex-girl-group history.
But with a hit after hit under her belt and a nationally recognized voice (not to mention an upcoming tour with Taylor Swift), Cabello is still a huge mystery to many listeners. They know the basics: She was in Fifth Harmony, she was on “The X-Factor,” and she may or may not have dated Shawn Mendes when she was 18. But Cabello is far from a household name. To remedy that, we’ve rounded up the most surprising, must-know facts to familiarize yourself with her a little better. Get to know the rising superstar ahead.
1. Her Real Name Actually Isn’t Camila
Camila is actually Cabello’s middle name. Her legal first name is Karla. She chose Camila, which she was called by her family growing up, as a stage name (sort of like a Beyoncé and Sasha Fierce situation) to step outside her comfort zone and empower herself as a performer. In a behind-the-scenes video for the “Havana” music video, Cabello explained that Karla and Camila are two separate sides of her personality.
“I really wanted to show in an exaggerated way two different sides of me. Camila, which is kind of this performer in me, and Karla is who I still am in my essence and who I was growing up: really awkward around boys, doesn’t know what the heck to say, is shy and introverted, doesn’t really like going out because she just likes to be in her fantasy movie world, and that’s really me,” she said.
2. She Was Mistaken for Selena Gomez Once
Photo: Getty Images
“Havana” might be played dozens of times on the radio every day, but not everyone knows who Cabello is. In an interview with BuzzFeed, the singer revealed that someone once mistook her for Selena Gomez at an airport.
“One time I was at the airport, and I was getting some food, and this guy was like, ‘Oh my God, I thought you were Selena Gomez!’” she said. “But he didn’t know who I was, he just thought I was Selena Gomez. I was like, ‘No, I’m not.’ And then I just walked away.”
3. She Ran a One Direction Fan Account
Photo: Getty Images
Before she was the subject of hundreds of fan accounts herself, Cabello was a hardcore One Direction fan who ran a fan account for the boy band on Twitter. In an interview with Beats 1, Cabello revealed that she spent a lot of her early teenage years running a One Direction fan Twitter and even cried when Zayn Malik announced he was leaving the band.
“I mean, I was, like, a huge One Direction fan. They were, like, the reason why I tried out for ‘X-Factor,’” she said. “I cried [when Zayn Malik left the band], not gonna lie. Because it’s the end of an era. It’s the end of an era. And obviously, like, I literally—you don’t understand. I had a Twitter account for One Direction. Like, I was one of those fangirls at one point.”
In an interview with Radio 1, 1D member Niall Horan later confirmed that he knew that Cabello ran a One Direction fan Twitter when she met them on “The X-Factor.” “I remember, we went to perform on “X Factor” in the States when Fifth Harmony were on it,” he said. “She was freaking out, she told us she had a One Direction Twitter account, she was crying.”
4. She Hates the Letter S
Technically, she hates the sound of the letter S. In an interview with BuzzFeed, Cabello revealed that one of her biggest pet peeves is when someone pronounces the letter S with too hard of a sound. She claims that it hurts her ears.
“I also hate it when people pronounce the letter S so piercing—I’m sorry, they could be amazing people, but it just hurts my ears. It reaches this frequency in my ears where it literally is painful. I can’t,” she said.
5. She Had a Poster of Her Tour Mate, Taylor Swift, in Her Bedroom
Swift hosted Cabello’s 18th birthday party, bought her a chicken-and-waffles cake, and is taking her on her Reputation World Tour as her opening act, so needless to say, the two are pretty tight. But back in the day, Cabello was simply a Swiftie, who had her future tour mate’s poster in her bedroom. After Swift announced her as her opening act, Cabello revealed on Instagram that she had a Swift poster in her bedroom and was bummed when she couldn’t attend the singer’s Speak Now Tour.
6. She Became a Vegan After Eating a Kale Salad
Most people have a long road to veganism. But for Cabello, all it took was a kale salad. In an interview with The New York Times, the singer suggested that she was inspired to take on a vegan diet after she ate a kale salad while bopping to Michael Jackson.
7. She’s Related to a Famous Mexican Revolutionist
The “Havana” singer isn’t the only famous person in the Cabello family. In 2015, the singer revealed that her great-great-grandfather fought in the Mexican revolution in the early 1900s. Go figure.
8. She Has a Framed Tweet from Ed Sheeran Hanging in Her Home
It’s no secret that Cabello is a huge Ed Sheeran fan. (They collaborated for her recent album, but the song, unfortunately, didn’t make the cut.) In an interview with BuzzFeed, the singer revealed that she has a tweet from Sheeran hanging in her house. The tweet was when Sheeran complimented Fifth Harmony on a cover of one of his songs.
“When I was in my former group, we each had to pick a cover to sing, and I picked Ed Sheeran, ‘Lego House,’” she said. “So we did the cover of the song, and he tweeted us, ‘Incredible.’ And then a fan framed me his tweet. I have it in my room.”