It was worth it! Normani Kordei opened up about battling through her back injury to achieve a perfect score with her pro partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, on the Monday, May 1, movie-themed episode of Dancing With the Stars.  

The 20-year-old said she had a “stressful week,” but she and Chmerkovskiy pulled through with a flawless Argentine tango. “I’m super proud of myself,” she told Us Weekly and other reporters after the show. “It’s just kind of mind over matter, even though it can be … physical, and I really struggled this week in a constant battle with myself.”

Kordei explained that she has a “severe strain” in both her upper back and hip, which is connected to a ligament that’s largely torn. “I’m on medication, and I just have to pace myself and take things step by step,” she said. “[The doctor] literally told me if I keep going at the rate that I’m going that I could crack my hip, which I don’t want. I have three weeks left of the competition and it’s, like, so close, but so far. I just have to play it smart.”

Besides DWTS rehearsals, Kordei is also touring with Fifth Harmony during the week. “For Fifth Harmony shows, you know, we drop it low for the majority of the concert — it’s a 75 to 90-minute set, so it’s a lot,” she said. “I need help. Literally when I wake up in the morning, my mom has to help me.”

She added that she’s recording music in the studio with Fifth Harmony, too. “We’re women now,” she said of the girl group. “We’re comfortable, we know what we want to sing, we know what we want the music to sound like, even down to us being in the studio, starting from the ground up with the producers and being fully involved in the creative process.”

Chmerkovskiy, 31, chimed in that the singer’s experience on Dancing With the Stars is helping her to take control of her career. “She’s never had so much creative control in what she does. It’s a collaboration,” he said. “If she doesn’t like the color of her dress, she wears a different color. If she doesn’t like her hair, she wears it differently. She has the final say on what she wants and I think moving forward with her career, she could take a lot of those lessons and run with it. “

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