FKA twigs: A breakdown of singer’s life, career and abuse allegations against Shia LaBeouf ahead of trial

FKA twigs: A breakdown of singer’s life, career and abuse allegations against Shia LaBeouf ahead of trial

FKA twigs is currently fighting a legal battle against her former partner, actor Shia LaBeouf, whom she’s accused of crimes including sexual assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress.

LaBeouf has denied the allegations first brought against him in 2020, and the two will appear in court from mid-April.

Twigs – real name Tahliah Barnett – dated the Honey Boy actor and former child star from mid-2018 to mid-2019.

Ahead of the trial, which has been moved up to 17 April, here is a breakdown of Barnett’s life, career and her allegations against LaBeouf.

Barnett’s early life

Barnett was born on 16 January 1988 in Cheltenham, England. Her mother was an English gymnast and dancer and her father was a Jamaican musician.

She was raised by her mother and stepfather, and didn’t meet her biological father until she was 18.

Starting from a young age, she took ballet and opera lessons and participated in several productions at her private Catholic school.

Age 16 is when she began making music in youth clubs. She then moved to south London at 17 to pursue a career in dance at the Brit School. She eventually shifted her focus from dance to music, leading her to transfer to Croydon College to study fine arts.

She continued her passion for dancing, appearing as a backup dancer in several singers’ music videos, including Kylie Minogue, Plan B, Ed Sheeran, Taio Cruz, Dionne Bromfield, Jessie J and Wretch 32.

FKA twigs (Getty Images)
FKA twigs (Getty Images)

At 18, she worked with local record producers to discover her own musical sound – a mix between electric dance and pop. Meanwhile, she worked at a strip club as a hostess and occasionally sang at Soho’s cabaret nightclub, The Box.

Beginning her music career

In 2012, she self-released her first extended playlist, EP1, on the platform Bandcamp, accompanied by music videos for each song that she posted on YouTube.

A year later, in an interview with Pitchfork, she explained her stage name, twig, came from the way her bones crack. She said she added FKA (formerly known as) at the request of twin sisters called the Twigs, who had been actively recording since 1994.

Barnett’s first studio album, LP1, was released in 2014 to critical acclaim. In his album review for The Independent, Christopher Hooton wrote: “FKA Twigs emerges the high priestess of R&B's latest corruption, and the world will kneel at the altar.”

In August of that year, she signed with London-based production company Academy Films.

She announced her world tour – in support of her debut album – months later, which kicked off in Brighton, East Sussex and ended in Orlando, Florida.

Professional acclaim

In 2014, Barnett was named among the Mercury Prize nominees. She continued her breakout success by performing on BBC’s Later... with Jools Holland.

That November, she made her first US TV appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Amidst several singles and three EPs, she’s since released her second album Magdalene in 2019, and her newest album Caprisongs in 2022, which The Independent rated four stars.

Dating history

Before Barnett’s relationship with LaBeouf, she dated actor Robert Pattinson. The two began dating in September 2014, following the Twilight star’s split from co-star Kristen Stewart in May 2013.

Shortly after the pair started dating, Pattinson proposed and the two got engaged. They were together for three years before they called it quits in October 2017, reportedly due to conflicting travel schedules.

After dating LaBeouf for a year from mid-2018 to mid-2019, Barnett began dating The 1975’s Matt Healy in 2020. They went public on social media in February 2020, and six months later, they parted ways.

Barnett is currently dating artist Jordan Hemingway.

On 7 March, she posted a screenshot of a DailyMail article on Instagram, along with the caption: “The whole of my career i’ve been hunted for who i am dating. so this time i’m pipping you to the post and taking control of the situation.

“His name is @jordan_hemingway, a beautiful artist whose heart has restored my faith in love. pap pics will always be rough so swipe for the hot pics. and now i’d like to go back to my nice private life with the dogs

Relationship with LaBeouf

Shia LaBeouf (Getty Images for HFA)
Shia LaBeouf (Getty Images for HFA)

Barnett and Shia LaBeouf met on the set of his 2019 drama Honey Boy. The singer made her acting debut in the film, which takes autobiographical inspiration from LaBeouf’s experience as a child actor and his strained relationship with his father.

The two are reported to have begun dating once filming wrapped in mid-2018. Things are said to have gotten serious fairly quickly, as LaBeouf convinced her to move in with him after only a few months of dating.

After a turbulent year of dating, the two broke up in May 2019.

What are Barentt’s abuse allegations against LaBeouf?

Barnett filed against LaBeouf in December 2020, suing him for sexual battery, battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and gross negligence.

According to court documents, Barnet claimed that LaBeouf tried to choke her multiple times. She alleged that in February 2019, he threw her against a car while at a gas station and attempted to strangle her while screaming in her face.

“It may be surprising to you to learn that I was in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. It was hard for me to process, too, during and after,” Barnett wrote on Instagram, at the time the lawsuit was announced.

“I never thought something like this would happen to me. Which is why I have decided it’s important for me to talk about it and try to help people understand that when you are under the coercive control of an abuser or in an intimate partner violent relationship, leaving doesn’t feel like a safe or achievable option,” she said.

LaBeouf released a statement in February 2021 denying he caused Barnett “any injury or loss”. He argued that she is not “entitled to any relief or damages whatsoever”.

He disputed the sexual battery charge, claiming: “None of the acts alleged were based on sex and/or the conduct was not sexual.”

Though he denied each of the charges, LaBeouf admitted to being aggressive and mentioned his alcohol addiction, writing: “I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behaviour made them feel. I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalisations.”

Read more about LaBeouf’s life and career here.

Anyone who requires help or support can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline which is open 24/7 365 days per year on 0808 2000 247 or via their website