Is there anyone who seems to have more fun with fame, fashion, and all the assorted trappings of being a celebrity in 2023 than Rihanna? Between commanding a beauty empire and remaining one of the biggest pop stars on the planet—she’s doing the Super Bowl halftime show this weekend, for goodness sake—you’d be hard-pressed to find a better icon for our age than the Bad Gal herself. But you knew that. Here, 5 things about the star that you probably didn’t know.
1. Her baby shower was rave-themed. Rihanna and her partner A$AP Rocky welcomed their first child last May, and naturally, the pre-party was fit for baby royalty. “No brunch, no blush tones. And no animal-shaped nothing,” Rihanna told Vogue editor Chioma Nnadi in May, explaining: “I mean it’s lit for a lot of people—I’ve even planned a couple of baby showers like that myself—it’s just not right for me. Personally, I want a party. I want everyone to be plastered and crawling out. And it’s got to be co-ed! Don’t put me on no wicker chair somewhere with gifts at my feet where everyone is staring at me.”
2. She signed her first record deal at 16 years old. (Yes, you read that right.) When legendary producer and Def Jam president Jay-Z heard the teenage Rihanna’s demo, he reportedly negotiated until 3 a.m. with the label’s lawyers to get the rights to sign her—and if he hadn’t, would we be able to play Anti on repeat to our heart’s content today?
3. She’s no stranger to the celebrity cameo. Long before Rihanna was a Super Bowl halftime performer (or a mom, for that matter), she appeared as herself in the 2006 film Bring It On: All or Nothing, which starred Hayden Panettiere and Solange Knowles as rival cheerleaders. The winning cheer team in the film even got to perform in a Rihanna music video, which…how do we get that perk?
4. Rih was an army cadet in a sub-military program in her native Barbados. Singer-songwriter Shontelle was her drill sergeant and ordered Rihanna around. “That’s what drill sergeants do. We boss cadets around, we make them do push-ups…especially when they show up on the parade square late,” Shontelle told the BBC in 2009. “We were both in cadets together—it wasn’t compulsory or anything. But picture me and Rihanna in combat boots and fatigues crawling through mud and things like that.”
5. Historically, Rihanna has had a few unorthodox preshow rituals. Things start off normal: “I eat lozenges, steam my voice, do my makeup. I Skype my vocal coach, and we sit there at the makeup table and do warm-ups for about a half hour,” she told Esquire in 2011. Then she starts to have some fun: “My personal assistant-slash-bartender brings me a shot that she dilutes with a little something so it’s not so harsh, like orange juice or soda water and lime,” she said.“I have to have it. I take it very seriously, so there is a level of anxiety, always. I overthink everything when it comes to my job. The drink calms my nerves. I sip it while I watch the opening act from my dressing room. Sometimes I go out into the audience. I put on a really big hoodie and sneak out there.”