CAMILA CABELLO IS LATE FOR BRUNCH. But not sullen, rock-star, hiding-behind-shades late. More like 19-year-old, mixed-up-the-address late. She’s running through the dining room of Versailles, a Cuban restaurant deep in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, lush black hair streaming, apologies pouring forth, having just rushed from the otherVersailles, in the city’s center. As soon as she sits on this mid-January Sunday morning, flashing that disarmingly broad smile, the singer — who was born in Cuba, resides in Miami and is staying in an Airbnb here in town — says, “I’ve got you on what we’re going to eat.” She then proceeds to order, in rapid-fire Spanish, a bounty of food: lemonades, steaks, rice, beans, plantains, croquettes, flan.
Confusion, stress, the promise of a splendid feast: That has pretty much been the story of Cabello’s recent life. It was only a month before this weekend that she was still a member of Fifth Harmony, the most successful girl group since Destiny’s Child, with more than 7 million digital songs sold, according to Nielsen Music. Before the year was out, she was a solo artist weathering accusations from her bandmates (namely, that she quit through her representatives after dodging a series of label interventions and therapy sessions) and even hate-tweets from zealous fans (see: #CamilaIsOverParty).
But that’s the confusion and stress. During that same time, Cabello had plenty to celebrate. The singer, who had collaborated outside of 5H for some time, released the darkly sexy rap-romp single “Bad Things” with Machine Gun Kelly last October, and it climbed the charts. (It’s now No. 1 on the Mainstream Top 40 Chart.) And that’s not even her first hit: “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” her 2015 duet with Shawn Mendes, peaked at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. She has social numbers to rival the band’s (3.4 million to 5H’s 3.8 million on Twitter and 8.8 million to 8.2 million on Instagram), a guest turn on a Major Lazer song banked and enough studio time booked to successfully capitalize on what seems, in retrospect, like an inevitable transition to solo stardom. “It would take a big force to stop her from taking over the world,” says her friend Mendes, adding, “She was such a great writing partner. I barely had to speak and she knew exactly what I meant.”