Rita is on cover of LEGEND Magazine for June 2017! I’ve added photos from photoshoot and cover to gallery:
Rita Ora is among Britain’s biggest celebrities, loved for her attitude and her range as an entertainer. She featured on tracks with Drake and Craig David, and vied to be Britain’s representative at the Eurovision Song Contest late in the 2000s, making her name as a singer. The big time beckoned and in the five years since 2012, she has seared her name across every centimetre of cyberspace as a singer, all-round performer, and star of the big and small screens.
She was everywhere, presenting on The X Factor, The Voice UK and America’s Next Top Model. As an actress, she’s held her own in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and has another movie on the way. As a fashion designer, she’s spent years working to devise product lines for Adidas and Tezenis. Ora’s background helps keep her grounded. Her parents were Albanian refugees who left Kosovo during the war there in the 1990s. Their sacrifices are always with her.
We met Ora at her suite in the W Hong Kong. She’s hungry for success ahead of a new album and, well, just hungry. She invited us in to share a veritable carbohydrate castle of pizza, burgers, quesadillas and French fries. In between bites we talked about music, sexuality and her quarter-life crisis.
She’s won over Jay Z and Madonna and has Hollywood banging at her door. Now Simon Cowell has signed her up as a judge on The X Factor. Stephanie Rafanelli talks to Rita Ora about break-ups, frenemies and making music with Prince
Rita Ora has a knack for inspiring devotion from musical legends. While recording in London last year, Prince wrote a paean, ‘Pink Champagne’, dedicated to her ebullience. Then he summoned her to his Paisley Park HQ near Minneapolis, resplendent in ‘a mustard-coloured poloneck, purple flares and an amazing black Afro. I’ve never seen a man who wears heels get so much female attention. He is sexy in so many ways,’ Ora declares, after striding into an East End studio, wearing the kind of platform boots that would make his royal not-so-highness proud, if a little envious.
He had invited her to record among the doves that he keeps in his studio: ‘We just wrote a bunch of music, laughed and danced.’ There, the poem evolved into ‘Champagne Kisses’, a song for her forthcoming second album. ‘If music had a face, it would be Prince.’
When Ora was still an aspiring teen musician, her mother once told her prophetically: ‘Not everyone will wish you well, but those that do will have more power than those that don’t.’ It could be the motto of her career. Her list of powerhouse mentors include Jay Z, who signed her at 18, and Beyoncé, her ‘sister from another mister’; Madonna, who chose Ora as the face of the fashion line Material Girl for S/S 2014; Tom Ford, who dressed her for this year’s Met Ball — ‘He’s a swaggy, swagger gentleman’ — and Harvey Weinstein, who, after her small role in this year’s Fifty Shades of Grey, is championing her acting career: ‘Harvey’s got my back and I’ve got his.’ And now Simon Cowell, who last week poached her from the BBC to join Nick Grimshaw on the new and improved X Factor panel, replacing Mel B. All this with less than three years in the mainstream public consciousness and, hitherto, only one solo album under her belt.
“People tend to feel intimidated by a woman that’s comfortable in her own skin”, Rita Ora is sitting opposite me at the Sanderson Hotel in London, discussing the resurgence of women on top in music. “And that comes to my whole point of supporting feminism; I’m a real believer in Pussy Power. I love my girls, like Charli XCX and Iggy, I love what Arianna did with her open letter, I love Miley and Katy Perry, and B is always on the next fucking level. Women are finally sticking up for each other. It’s been a long time coming.”
Rita is gearing up to release her second album later this month, and that too has been a long time coming. Her debut, ORA, hit the shelves way back in 2012 and landed her at number one. Three number one singles and a slew of award nominations later, Rita’s reputation as one of the UK’s biggest female music stars was cemented. A fourth number one came in the form of the Calvin Harris penned “I Will Never Let You Down”, but then, following a very public breakup with Harris, news of Rita’s impending second album went a little quiet.
“Obviously my personal life distracted me a bit, I wasn’t prepared to go in and finish off a record because I wasn’t myself, I was in a bad place”, Rita says, assuring me that now it’s time to move on, and that she’s ready to concentrate fully on the release of her sophomore album. “I think that our experience was amazing at that time, but it’s time to move on now”, she says. “I think that we’ve both shown that we’ve done that, not just in our personal lives, but in our musical lives too. I still love performing “I Will Never Let You Down” – it’s one of my favourites. People are like, “do you feel a bit weird?”, and I say no – because music speaks for itself, it’s a great song.”
So what can we expect from Rita Ora, chapter two? “I’ve grown up. I think I’ve got more to say because I’m older, but I haven’t changed personally”, she says. “I think humans change always, but I don’t think we completely forget. I don’t forget where I’m from, or what I’ve done. I’m still the same daughter I was to my mother, but I’m an evolved artist and that shows. This album shows my improvement as a storyteller”
Rita Ora has a plan. The magazine covers, fashion (Roberto Cavalli) and beauty (Rimmel London) endorsements, clothing line with Adidas Originals, campaign with Coca-Cola, even performing a nominated song (“Grateful”) at the Oscars are all testimony that the plan is working. “Oh, it is in full effect. We’re these conniving Kosovan hungry bitches,” Ora says of herself and her older sister, Elena Sahatçiu, who is also her manager. “I knew that one way or another, I was going to do things my way.”
On playing the house diva behind the turntables while her parents thought she was going to sleepovers: “I would rip my T-shirts and be really punk and not clean. And I would have blonde hair, really dark eyebrows, red lipstick, lots of fake rings that made my fingers go green. I wouldn’t be smelling that great…. But me and my friends, we were really, like, rebel-y. I feel like I lived a lot when I shouldn’t have.”
On dating: “I’m afraid of being alone. I’m not afraid to admit that, you know. I’m not embarrassed to admit that. I just hope it’s not a never-ending cycle. Sometimes love just makes you feel crazy. And that feeling that we have as girls, just to have that feeling, even for five seconds, it’s like crack. I mean, don’t compare it to that, but you know what I mean. It’s like comfort eating.”
On her recent breakup: “There was a reason why I split up with him. And there was a reason why I’m at this point in my life where I feel like I have so much musical freedom, and I don’t have to explain myself to anybody… It was more of a thing where I was in awe. I was at that point in my relationship where I felt he could do no wrong. I thought he had my back and that he’d never steer me wrong. But then “I Will Never Let You Down” came out, and everything started to go a bit weird. I don’t know if it was because business was mixed with personal or what.”
On playing a drug addict who attempts to seduce a boxer played by Jake Gyllenhaal in Southpaw: “I arrived on the set, and the makeup artist said, ‘You’re kind of ready to go onstage.’ I’m like, ‘You know I’m playing a crack whore?’ Which shows: Don’t look at me when I’m waking up.”
On recording three songs with Prince: “He came to London about a year ago and his manager contacted my management, and he said, ‘Hey, Prince is in town.’ I was like, ‘What prince? Like the royal family prince? I wouldn’t care about that prince. I care more about actual Prince Prince.’ And he was like, ‘Actual Prince.’ I said, ‘Oh, my God!'”
On patience: “I’ve had to have a lot of patience. Because there have been times at night where I want to pull my hair out and just put my music out for free on the Internet and just say fuck everybody. But then I have this conscience saying no, be smart, be strategic. There are ways of doing things and still getting your way. If I’m going to do Rita Ora, it’s going to be Rita fucking Ora. It’s not about who is on my album or who’s featured or the names. It’s about a solid body of work that I can call my own.
Read the full interview—and see all the photos—in the July issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands June 23.
Billboard model. Movie actress. Fashion icon. Pop idol. Saturday night TV star. It there anything Rita Ora can’t do? Here’s a sneak peek of what she reveals in her InStyle April cover interview…
‘I’ve been told “no” so many times in my career. It doesn’t mean it’s over… I can remember every single “no” I’ve been told in my life. They do not leave my brain. But they build you up.’
On her Fifty Shades of Grey role: ‘I heard about the audition and I approached Sam Taylor-Johnson with ideas for the soundtrack. I said I’d love to involved as I was such a fan of the book. And then Sam said, “Well, why don’t you audition?” And I said, “Sure…I’ve got a few song ideas, I could send them over…” and she said, “No, why don’t you audition for the movie?” And I was like, “What?” I’ve done a bit of acting, but honestly didn’t expect to be put into that role. I thought, what have I got to lose? I auditioned like everybody else – there were a lot of other people in the frame. I didn’t get any special treatment. I perfected my American accent, one thing led to another, and I got it.’
On being a coach on The Voice: ‘I said no straightaway. I love the show, but I wanted to focus on my second album. And then I spoke to Will [fellow judge Will.i.am], and he said “Listen, if you don’t do it, I won’t do it.” It’s actually the best decision I’ve made. It’s so fun. I love it. I’m learning a lot about myself, being a coach. I’m starting to trust my instincts. When you’re sitting in that chair, you can’t ask what anyone thinks, you just have to do it.’
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