Rita Ora Source » Your best source for all things Rita Ora » Interviews
3 Jun 2017
LEGEND Magazine (June 2017)
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.
Video: Rita Ora on Working with Chris Brown & Upcoming Album
MOBO Award winner and pop superstar, Rita Ora, sits down with MOBO TV to chat about her new single ‘Body on Me’ featuring Chris Brown, her experience filming the video and the rise of British culture in the music industry…especially grime.
Born in Prishtina, Kosovo, Rita Ora, 24, came to London with her family after war broke out. She attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School and in 2009 was signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation. Her debut album went to no 1 in 2012. Her movies include Fifty Shades Of Grey and Southpaw, she is a new X Factor judge and the face of Tezenis, the Italian underwear brand.
What is your earliest memory?
Playing hide and seek in a cemetery in Earl’s Court when I was seven –no one found me and I thought I was going to get stolen by ghosts.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I block people out when they are talking to me. It comes across as rude but I can’t do two things at once.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
What was your most embarrassing moment?
My first “nip slip”, at Lovebox, 2009.
Property aside, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
A Rolex watch for my dad’s birthday.
What is your most treasured possession?
My new dog, Cher. She’s a maltipoo.
What is your screensaver?
An old Versace campaign with Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My butt and my upper thighs.
Who would play you in the film of your life?
Julianne Moore. She is beautiful.
What is your favourite word?
Which book changed your life?
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey.
What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
“You can’t do that.”
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My first love. We started to date at 16, then it all went Pete Tong.
What does love feel like?
Like you’re flying.
What was the best kiss of your life?
When my mum kisses my forehead.
Have you ever said, “I love you” and not meant it?
Yes – I am not going to lie.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Blondie, Tina Turner, David Bowie and Michelle Obama.
What has been your biggest disappointment?
I got dropped from two record deals when I was 14 and 17.
If you could edit your past, what would you change?
That I didn’t think I knew everything.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
To Kosovo and stop the war.
When did you last cry, and why?
Getting an honorary ambassadorship from the president of Kosovo in July.
How often do you have sex?
As much as I can.
What is the closest you’ve come to death?
Death is my biggest phobia. I used to have panic attacks when I was little, saying, “Mum, I don’t want to die.” I’ve been to therapy and still try to go every week.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A garden of my own.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
Frank Sinatra singing My Way.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
To never give up.
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”
“This Is a New Chapter of My Life, I’m Ready to Move On”
“What do you think? Should we go see Mariah Carey or Bruno Mars?” asks Rita Ora, planning her Saturday evening’s antics in Las Vegas. In terms of respective set times, the pop star could technically go see Mariah’s Caesars Palace residency then be done in time for Bruno’s headline slot at Rock In Rio festival. “Yeah? Sorted. You’re coming with,” she smiles.
Rita’s arrived at the MGM Grand where she’s staying to present at the Billboard Music Awards (held here in Sin City last night). Entering her room is like landing in Aladdin’s Cave. She’s only been here a hot minute but all her worldly possessions appear spread out around her. Apart from some Chanel trinkets that have gone astray somewhere between London, the East Coast, LA, and wherever Rita’s been jetsetting to for the past 48 hours.
Louis Vuitton suitcases crammed with outfits are strewn all over, boxes of scarves, bags of rock t-shirts (Bad Brains, Bowie, Circle Jerks), a hat case filled with headwear and a hairdresser who’s sat on the bed with us, cutting Rita’s casual, long white braids out to prepare her for an ultra glam red carpet look tomorrow. Four different choices from room service are on the bed. Wherever Rita Ora goes, she has options for every eventuality, ready for whatever takes her flight when it eventually arrives. She relentlessly believes all of it will. That’s why she’s constantly on-the-go. Rita has looks for days, business deals to make reality and a music career she’s almost re-launching from scratch. “Guys, where are my socks?” Thankfully, she has socks too, somewhere among the clothes rubble.
Born Rita Sahatçiu, 24 years ago in Pristina, Kosovo, she was barely a year old when her parents fled the war-torn country with their family—including her older sister Elena,who now acts as her manager—moving to a housing project in West London. Named as a nod to her filmmaker grandfather’s favorite actress Ms. Hayworth, Rita showed an early aptitude for the spotlight, the seeds of which were sown when, at six-years-old, she scored the starring role of Cinderella in the school play. Eventually she enrolled in Sylvia Young Theatre School, whose alum include Amy Winehouse and Emma “Baby Spice” Bunton. In 2009, despite featured appearances on singles by Craig David and Tinchy Stryder, she auditioned for the Eurovision Song Contest, a cheesy European talent competition.
She sailed through and was offered the chance to represent the UK, but wisely went with her gut and pulled out. Thanks to some savvy management reach out, by the end of that year Rita was in New York meeting with Jay Z. Fourt-eight hours later she signed to Roc Nation, and two years after that, when Rita was still a teenager, her debut record, Ora, went to number one in the UK. The album included four songs which also went to number one and its long-protracted follow-up (two years is an eon in pop terms), is being readied for a release later this year.
I didn’t really know who Rita Ora was when I first met her. It was 2010 and she was a guest on my BBC Radio 1 show. I’d done no research and there was nothing about her online. All I’d been told is that it would be a 10-minute chat with a new pop star signed to Roc Nation. Now, if you’ve ever heard Rita Ora talk, you know that 10-minute chats aren’t in the mouthy pop star’s framework. She arrived in the studio and was brash, yet angelic and hypnotizing with the presence of a mega star, bounding over to hug me and gush about her love of Kate Moss and Radio 1. She was open, funny and dorky, but most of all, she was real. Since then she’s had five number one hits and a number one album in the UK, toured the world and become the superstar she promised to be in 2010. A lot has changed, but Rita herself is still all about real talk, full of love and somehow even funnier, sexier and dorkier than ever. Success has a strange effect on teenagers who dream of fame, but Rita has somehow taken it all in stride. She’s dealt with criticism from the press, Twitter spats and actual real-girl beef but now she faces her biggest challenge, something every British artist dreams of: conquering America. With a Calvin Harris-produced single out in May and increasingly scary levels of fame and pressure to make album number two a success when it’s released stateside this summer, I chatted with her about how she plans on doing it all while keeping sane.
Nick Grimshaw: You were just at Milan Fashion Week, walking in Jeremy Scott’s Moschino show and performing at Philipp Plein. How was it? All I’ve seen is pictures of you becoming best friends with Naomi Campbell.
Rita Ora: Yeah, me and Naomi Campbell are like best friends… No, I’m joking. She’s so cute. She was looking after me at the [Philipp Plein] show. I was really nervous because I felt fat — everyone was so skinny and tall. So she gave me a pep talk and walked me in. Then we ended up having drinks by the bar and she was being really cool.
NG: She’s so fun isn’t she?
RO: She was being major, but you know what that’s like. I’ll talk to you about it later when we’re not being recorded.
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