Melody Thornton on seizing good opportunities
Portrait by Getty Images // Edits by Savannah Taïder

My ambition has always been as big as the Universe and when I was younger, I used to seize every opportunity that I’d see. No matter if I had to create it or if it naturally came knocking at my door, I never missed a single one. It wasn’t until I matured to a certain age and began to walk in my purpose that, like former Pussycat Doll and vocalist Melody Thornton, I learned that not all good opportunities are good for me.

In December 2019, right after they announced their reunion and tour dates via lead singer Nicole Scherzinger’s Instagram page, the Pussycat Dolls took over The X Factor stage with a sexy performance of a couple of their songs. While the internet was going nuts over it, my only concern was to see that Melody was missing. As a former PCD enthusiast and woman of color who can often only identify with the brown women in the room, hearing the news that my favorite childhood girls band is reuniting and going on a world tour, and discovering that the doll I like the most will not be part of it had me on an emotional rollercoaster.

Knowing the history that Melody and Nicole have, I immediately assumed that Melody’s absence was due to these two still being on bad terms. However, when I did my research, I discovered that Melody actually chose to leave her seat at the table empty. And apparently, her reasons have nothing to do with a potential beef between the girls, but have everything to do with her wanting to live according to her own truth.

I always aspired to be a solo artist but I grew up on a budget; you can’t say no to a major opportunity like that.”

In 2016, during an interview with Studio 10, Melody confessed that she’s never wanted to be part of a girls band. She, indeed, never had the desire to sing with anyone. When fairly asked what were her motives when she auditioned to become a Pussycat Doll, she explained:

I was right out of high school. Six months out of high school and I’ve seen an ad on MTV. Literally, that was it — they ran it once and I saw it. I was walking in from the end of my first semester in college and was failing all of my classes. I was 19 and I was like: I need something else, this isn’t going to work. […] I always aspired to be a solo artist but I grew up on a budget; you can’t say no to a major opportunity like that.”

Melody joined the band as a vocalist. Although she never wanted to sing with anyone, I believe we all agree to say that in the situation she was in at the time, all that mattered was that she was given the opportunity to sing and make herself known. At least, that’s what she thought. The singer quickly became disenchanted as it turned out Nicole was the only one singing the leads, leaving Melody being just a backup singer/dancer which, obviously, wasn’t the role she signed up for. As a matter of fact, in another interview with Lorraine Kelly, Melody admitted how bad of a dancer she was back then. Unlike the other dolls who’ve been dancing since the age of 3, Melody had never taken a dance class before joining the PCD. She emphasized how self-harming it, therefore, was to constantly have to surpass herself to excel in a field that wasn’t hers whereas all she aimed to do was to practice her passion and sing:

“It really affected my confidence because I wasn’t using my best asset and people were getting to know me for something that I didn’t do. And then, I was the weakest dancer. It was just really challenging. It was tough.”

Back in the days, becoming a Pussycat Doll sure was one helluva good opportunity for Melody Thornton. With all due respect, she would’ve been a fool to not go for it when you see that it led her to make a striking debut in the music industry. Furthermore, according to her, she even learned a lot from her bandmates. I second that you can’t say no to a major opportunity like that. As of today, however, when it comes to reforming the group, well, there isn’t much to go back to for the former Dancing On Ice star. What once felt right, she has outgrown a long time ago, in 2010, when she made the fearless decision to leave the group to pursue a career solo.

“As grateful as I am for that start -a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to be in high school one day and be performing with Tom Jones or some other legendary performer- I just really needed a break. I needed my real life. […] The songs that we have are the songs that we have and I can’t change that. But also, I’m a grown woman and… I’m a singer. Live your life, enjoy your life and do with it what you want to do. I can’t be pressured into that [the reunion], unfortunately.” — Melody Thornton during an interview with Chartshow TV

I can only admire an Afro-Latina female artist that has had enough courage and respect for herself and for her art to walk away from such a damaging environment to break through the music industry on her own terms. Especially when, despite the fact that dancing was a struggle for her, she was still considered successful at what she was doing. Yet even more admirable is that Melody chose to remain faithful to the vision that she has for her career and committed to doing what feels right in her heart whereas reuniting with the other dolls could’ve perhaps given her more exposure and propelled her solo career farther. Who knows?

All of which leads me to reflect on the following question: How to recognize when an opportunity is for you?

1. It doesn’t require you to detach from your own identity.

We come across good opportunities more often than we’d like to admit. With that said, good opportunities are only good if they suit who we are at our core. An opportunity should never jeopardize our true selves. But if the said opportunities support the life that we’re trying to create, if they don’t require us to turn our backs to our core values, then they are perfect for us.

2. The opportunity in itself provides you with a feeling of pure bliss and not just what you might gain from it.

I’ve had my fair share of hardships and setbacks since I began following my dreams. Enough to understand that we shouldn’t make the path to fulfilling our wildest dreams more difficult than it already is by seizing a good, but heavy for the soul, opportunity. Contrary to what a lot of us believe, the moment we achieve our goal shouldn’t be the only reward. The journey to get there should feel gratifying as well. If the latter makes you miserable, it’s not a good opportunity.

3. It nurtures your spiritual side and helps you grow.

Is an opportunity really a good opportunity if it doesn’t contribute to our growth in any way whatsoever? On the outside, certain opportunities look like they’ll only take us farther away from our destination. Yet if we dig a little deeper, we can see that again, it’s not much more about the destination than it is the journey. Some opportunities are great ways to fail and come along with lessons that’ll eventually shape you into the person you’re meant to become.

4. It feels right in your guts, heart and mind.

Over the years, I’ve learned to tap into my intuitive side a lot more. I began being more conscious of the way I feel inside when I experience doubt or when I am certain of myself. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that our bodies send us little—or big signals, when we haven’t been listening for too long—all the time. These signals may vary from one person to another, but learning to recognize them and acting upon them will definitely help you seize the right opportunities.

Featured image by Getty Images // Edits by Savannah Taïder