Rihanna is an outstanding role model, one of the most successful music artists of all time, and a savvy businesswoman. But very few people ever get close enough to know the real her, as she isn’t the most public celebrity you’ve ever heard of. While she may be open about the things she struggles with, she rarely steps into controversy and always tends to keep her personal life out of the headlines.
In this article, we’ll take a long look at Rihanna’s personal life, music career, and business ventures to learn some of the most interesting facts available about her.
Rihanna Had A Tough Childhood
Rihanna was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in 1988 in Saint Michael, Barbados. As she grew up, she lived in a three-bedroom bungalow in Bridgetown, the capital city of Barbados, selling clothes alongside her father in a street stall.
Her childhood was deeply impacted by her father’s alcohol and drug abuse, which strained her parent’s marriage and was often thought to be the basis for her father’s physical abuse of her mother. She would often attempt to get between them as they fought, sometimes getting hurt herself.
She also dealt with debilitating headaches as a child. She underwent numerous CT scans that looked for the problem, which the doctors at the time believed to be a tumor. At 14, her parents divorced, and her headaches began to improve.
Her Music Career Began In Barbados
Rihanna and two of her classmates formed a musical trio in Barbados, but they never came up with a name or had any of their own material. Despite this, they decided to audition with an American record producer, Evan Rogers. He was struck when watching the group but only with Rihanna.
In an interview, he stated: “The minute Rihanna walked into the room, it was like the other two girls didn’t exist.”
She would go on to perform for him solo, singing songs by Destiny’s Child and Mariah Carey. After being fully impressed, he invited her to the US to record demo tapes to send to record labels. Two of the tracks from those tapes would end up being hit songs for her, Pon De Replay and The Last Time. Those tapes would be sent out, eventually earning her an audition with Def Jam Records and their then CEO Jay-Z.
Jay-Z was so impressed with her talent after hearing her audition he closed a six-album deal with the then 16-year-old Rihanna and convinced her to not even audition for other record labels. By May 2005, Pon De Replay would be released as her debut single, and a star was born.
She Didn’t Actually Like Pon De Replay
Speaking of Rihanna’s debut hit single, she didn’t really like the song. While Jay-Z thought the track was too big for her before hearing her perform it and it would become a massive hit single, she actually thought the song was too much like a nursery rhyme.
It’s certainly not a controversial song and is much more in line with a simple pop track than her deeper works, but it sure was a great dance number.
Rihanna’s Music Success Is Incredible
She got started hot with her debut album, but Rihanna’s career has done nothing but continue to produce excellence in the music industry. She’s been able to achieve 14 number-one singles on the US Billboard Hot 100, 32 singles that broke into the top 10 in the US, and 31 singles that made it into the top 10 in the UK. Her award wins are just as stunning though.
She has racked up nine Grammy Award wins, 12 American Music Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards, six Guinness World Records, the NAACP’s President’s Award, and even an Academy Award nomination.
Anywhere she goes, there are eyes on her. The Super Bowl Halftime Show is one of the most-watched concerts of any given year, and her performance in 2023 is the most-watched show in history. Official figures stated over 121 million people viewed the show live, with countless more views pouring in when it came to online streaming replays.
Rihanna Has A Massive Net Worth
Rihanna has an insane net worth, placing her somewhere in the range of around $1.4 billion as of 2023. But while her music definitely allowed her to build a platform and make plenty of money, the vast majority of her net worth has nothing to do with the music industry at all.
She launched her Fenty fashion brand in 2019, becoming the first woman to create an original brand for LVMH and the first woman of color to lead one of their brands. It was also the first line of products that LVMH had launched since 1987, and it was meant to be a groundbreaking venture. She was given absolute rights to create a brand with no artistic limits, which led her to build Fenty into one of the best beauty lines in the world.
Fenty Beauty is available worldwide and includes a wide array of makeup products, revolutionizing the entire cosmetics industry in terms of the way brands approach diversity and marketing. Rather than the typical number of shades a brand would have, it essentially created enough products for any woman to find something that matches their skin tone, with a focus on the darker tones that are often left out.
The inclusivity of Rihanna’s Fenty brand doesn’t stop at cosmetics though. Her lingerie line Savage X Fenty also works to match tones but also women of different sizes and body shapes. Again, something that was largely ignored by other brands when she launched hers.
Outside of her music and beauty lines, she is an active businesswoman. She’s produced television programs, acted, created partnerships with brands, became the creative director of Puma sportswear, and expanded her influence in the fashion world. All told, her many business ventures and their huge level of success have made her a billionaire with a capital ‘B.’
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Fenty Beauty Is All About Diversity, Something Rihanna Is an Avid Advocate For
Fenty has received all manner of praise as a makeup brand. From being relatively affordable compared to other brands to its massive range of shades and tones, Rihanna’s work has been nothing short of spectacular. It’s an accessible brand that’s meant to cover the full spectrum of skin tones for any woman.
In an interview, she described why ensuring diversity and her focus on darker skin tones within her own line of makeup products is so important to her.
“In my own household, my father is half black, half white. My mom is black from South America. I was seeing diversity. That’s all I knew. Growing up, I wanted to be darker, always. So, making makeup, it wasn’t even a thing I had to think about. I don’t even think 40 shades is enough! And so I added 10 more recently, and we’re not gonna stop there.”
Rihanna Is The Second Most Successful Female Artist of All Time
Rihanna is one of the most successful and best-selling music artists in history, with a music career ranking her as the second most successful female artist of all time in terms of album sales. Her incredible record of 250 million worldwide record sales places her only behind Madonna in terms of sales records. But Rihanna is the number-one female artist of all time when it comes to being the highest-certified female artist on the RIAA’s Top Artists (Digital Sales) ranking.
Rihanna’s Relationship With Chris Brown Was Tumultuous
Rihanna began dating singer Chris Brown in 2007, but it would only last until 2009. That year, her scheduled performance at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards was canceled, and she was checked out at a local emergency room. Reports surfaced pretty quickly that Brown had physically assaulted her. He turned himself in and faced charges of assault and making criminal threats.
But it was a leaked photo from the police department of Rihanna’s injuries that was obtained by TMZ that set the world on fire. She was visibly and obviously the victim of domestic violence, and the case became the subject of nonstop coverage, digging into their relationship back to the beginning. He would be given five years probation and a restraining order was placed to keep him away from her.
This did not end their involvement entirely though. Drake and Brown were involved in an altercation not too long after Rihanna began a relationship with the rapper. But after their off-and-on relationship burned out, she and Brown got back together for a few months in 2016. Eventually, the two parted ways again, though this time after reconciling most of their biggest issues.
Thankfully, Rihanna seems much happier today. She settled down with her longtime friend A$AP Rocky, and the couple have two children together as of today.
Rihanna Has Starred In Several Films
Rihanna’s acting career isn’t incredibly long, but she was a featured cast member of several notable films and television series.
Perhaps her best-known cameo was her appearance in the film Bring It On: All Or Nothing from 2006. In 2012, she also featured in a role in the theatrical film Battleship, loosely based—very loosely—on the famous board game. She would go on to voice the role of Tip in the animated feature film Home as well.
On television, she took on the recurring role of Marion Crane in the final season of Bates Motel, earning her and the show universal acclaim. She then went on to become part of the all-female cast of Ocean’s Eight, a film that grossed over $300 million.
Rihanna Day Is A Real Thing
Rihanna Day is a real holiday celebrated in her home country of Barbados on February 22. In 2008, their Prime Minister officially declared the day a holiday to honor her. While not a bank holiday, it remains a popular day in the country. People celebrate by listening to her music on February 22, and she often returns to Barbados to perform a concert on that day each year.
So Was “Rihanna’s Law,” At Least Almost
After a photo was leaked by the Los Angeles Police Department following an abuse case involving Chris Brown in 2009, a law was almost passed with Rihanna as the namesake. An organization called STOParazzi proposed “Rihanna’s Law,” an act that would have deterred employees of law enforcement agencies from releasing information that could potentially exploit victims of crimes.
Part Of Rihanna’s Outreach Programs Involve Terminally Ill Children
Rihanna is an active philanthropist, just about as active in her charity work as she is in her business lines. In 2006, she founded the Believe Foundation to help terminally ill children. In an interview with People Magazine, she stated that when she was young, she saw children suffering on television and wished she could help. After becoming a music star, she realized she had the ability to actually help, which was the inspiration for her foundation.
But her charitable work doesn’t stop at her own foundation. She has performed numerous benefit concerts and donated to several charities that supported COVID relief, AIDS/HIV awareness, PPE availability, and domestic violence issues.
She also happens to be a fairly outspoken person when it comes to advocating for LGBTQ, feminist, and climate issues. She’s taken hard stances in support of national anthem protests, racial profiling that would lock certain ethnicities from entering the US, and even stood behind farmers in their fight against farm bills.
Rihanna Witnessed an Exorcism
Taken from an interview with The Boombox, Rihanna explained the exorcisms she saw in person as a child. In Barbados, it was a pretty common occurrence for exorcisms to be performed during church services. According to her: “In the middle of the ceremony somebody would get up screaming and spinning out of control and everybody would rush to [them] and pray.” She would then go into detail about a particular exorcism that took place at home, with her and the other children locked out of the house.
You can read more about the interview here. While it sounds ominous to us, she was apparently laughing the entire time she told the stories, so it must not have creeped her out for life.
Despite the Fame, Rihanna Deals With Anxiety Like Any Other Mortal
It’s not uncommon for celebrities to deal with some level of mental health problems. In general, the fame and the constant spotlight only heighten the issues they have to deal with on a daily basis. Rihanna has been pretty open about her struggles with anxiety, even talking about it in an interview with Vogue. At one time, she left the Grammy Awards before the show even started thanks to her anxiety, but it goes further than that.
She says she often gets nervous anytime she goes out, and the feeling of anxiety can be crippling. For most of her concerts, she actually takes a shot of alcohol before going on to try to calm her nerves enough to properly perform. Her nervousness also causes her to be a fairly shy person despite the glitz, glam, and magazine portraits. While she is a master of projecting confidence, half the time, she’s dealing with anxiety on the inside, making her relatable to any fan of hers.
Everyone Pronounces Her Name Incorrectly
While just about everyone pronounces “Rihanna” as “ree-AH-nuh,” the proper way to pronounce her name is “ree-ann-uh.” The more you know.
Rihanna Literally Has Leg Insurance
Most people would agree that Rihanna has a great pair of legs, including Gillette, as she won their Celebrity Legs of a Goddess award in 2007. After that, she put insurance on her valuable legs valued at one million dollars. A little insane to me, but I don’t have legs worth insuring like that, so who am I to judge?
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.