Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for My Friend’s Place
Years before Halsey was a Grammy-nominated, world-renowned singer, she was a homeless teen who contemplated taking desperate measures to makes ends meet.
In 2016, the singer, born Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, told Rolling Stone that when she was 19, her parents kicked her out of their home after she quit community college. In an emotional speech at the Ending Youth Homelessness: A Benefit for My Friend’s Place gala in Los Angeles on Saturday, Halsey, now 24, recalled her past life on the streets and how she contemplated prostituting herself.
“When I was living in New York, I was a teenager. My friends were picking out decorations for their dorms, and I was debating on whether or not I should let a stranger inside of me so I could pay for my next meal,” Halsey said in her speech at the Ending Youth Homelessness benefit at the Hollywood Palladium.
“It wasn’t because I did something bad. It wasn’t because something was wrong with me, and it wasn’t because my parents didn’t love me—because they did very much,” she added. “But a series of unfortunate circumstances lead me to be in that position, and it can happen to absolutely anyone.”
In her interview with Rolling Stone, Halsey recalled how she was broke after her parents kicked her out, and once “bought a four-pack of Red Bull and used it to stay up overnight over the course of two or three days, because it was less dangerous to not sleep than it was to sleep somewhere random and maybe get raped or kidnapped.”
At the Ending Youth Homelessness benefit, Halsey talked about how her life turned around after she met Capitol Music Group’s Jeremy Vuernick, who gave her a record deal.
“When I met him, I had crazy hair, I had one demo in my pocket and I was carrying a gray duffel bag,” she said. “Sat down in his office, at his cubicle, and he asked me, ‘What’s in the bag?’ I looked him dead in the eyes and I said, ‘This is my house.'”
Halsey talked to the crowd about the importance of helping homeless people.
“I need you guys to realize that and while it’s very exiting that I am a record-selling, show-playing pop star, when I tell people that story, they go, ‘Oh my gosh, you went from being homeless to being a pop star, that’s amazing, we should help these people because we don’t know what they could become,'” she said. “Wrong. We shouldn’t help we think because there’s a chance that they could turn into a celebrity. We shouldn’t help because they could really make something of themselves—because they are something right now.”
She added, “I know better than anyone how important having a creative outlet is when you’re in a time of need, but this is so much bigger than arts and crafts. This is life or death, and I hope that you take it very, very seriously. I really do.”