Rihanna is one of the most successful women in the world, whether it’s because of her charity work, her distinct eye for fashion, or her stack of best-selling records – but how much do you really know about her? Test yourself with these 50 incredibly geeky facts.
1. Rihanna isn’t her real name
It’s actually Robyn Rihanna Fenty.
2. She was discovered by Jay Z
After sending in her demo tapes to Def Jam Records, she was auditioned by their (then) president, Jay-Z, who signed her afterwards. Jay-Z was reportedly so impressed that he demanded Rihanna not leave the building until the contract was signed.
3. She got vocal training from Ne-Yo
Upon rapidly entering the charts, Rihanna admitted that she had never received official singing lessons. She said of her work with Ne-Yo: “I’ve never had vocal training, so when I’m in the studio, he’ll tell me how to breathe and stuff… He’ll call out these big fancy words: ‘OK, I want you to do staccato.’ And I’m like, ‘OK, I don’t know what that is.'”
4. She credits Madonna as her biggest influence
She once said that she wanted to be the “Black Madonna,” explaining that she admires the way Madonna constantly reinvents herself.
5. Madame Tussauds has eight wax figures of Rihanna
Combining all the wax figures of Rihanna made by Madame Tussauds all over the world, the total now comes to eight. One of her wax figures took a team of 20 people four months to build.
6. Calvin Harris says Rihanna ‘changed everything’ for his career
Talking to The Sun in 2012 about his 2011 Rihanna collaboration ‘We Found Love’ he said: “Career-wise it was the best thing that could have happened… It changed absolutely everything.”
7. In Barbados there is a Rihanna Day
In 2008 former Prime Minister of Barbados, David Thompson, announced that there would be an annual Rihanna Day every year on 22nd February. Although this is not a bank holiday, people come together to celebrate it every year by listening to her music. Occasionally she even returns to perform. What’s more, the street where she used to live has been renamed to ‘Rihanna Drive’.
8. Her story inspired lawyers to propose laws helping victims of abuse
After Rihanna’s assault by her previous boyfriend, Chris Brown, an organisation called STOParazzi proposed a law which would prohibit the release of photos or information that would exploit crime victims. In usual cases of this nature the victims’ identity would not be revealed, but Rihanna was not granted this liberty. TMZ, who initially shared the photos, still have not received any penalty for their actions.
9. She won a school beauty pageant
When she was 16, Rihanna took part in her high school’s beauty pageant, singing ‘Hero’ by Mariah Carey. She went on to win the title of ‘Miss Combermere’.
10. She once insured her legs
In 2007 Rihanna insured her legs in for $1 million after winning Gillette’s Venus Breeze competition for the best legs.
11. She can’t wink
Try and find a video of her winking…
12. ‘Rude Boy’ was originally improvised
When she was originally brainstorming ideas for ‘Rude Boy’ with her team she improvised some of the lyrics for the track on the spot. She explains, “When we wrote this song it was kind of a freestyle. I liked the West Indian influence that the music had. I just went in the booth, my team were already jotting down ideas, and that came to me.”
13. She’s been in the Guinness World Book of Records six times
Her records include being the first female artist to have a UK No. One five years in a row (2007-2011), Best Selling Digital Artist (US), as well as being the most-liked person on Facebook in 2014
14. Whenever she gets a bikini wax, she makes sure therapist is ‘old and Russian’
Once during a bikini wax, Rihanna’s beauty therapist recognised her and asked for a autograph mid-wax – now she makes sure something so embarrassing never happens again. She said on The Graham Norton Show, “It was the most embarrassing moment of my life. I told my assistant, don’t ever bring me back here! I told you: old and Russian!”
15. The singer has banned people bringing umbrellas to her gigs
After the release of her hit single ‘Umbrella’ Rihanna feared fans might bring umbrellas to gigs and hurt themselves or other people – so she banned them.
16. She was supposed to be maid of honour to Katy Perry
Although Rihanna could not attend Perry’s 2012 wedding to Brand, (she apparently had to record some music for her album ‘Loud’) she still arranged Katy’s bachelorette party in Las Vegas.
17. She’s the first woman to win ‘Shoe of the Year’ award
Footwear News awarded this to Rihanna after her collaboration with Puma. The year prior, Kanye West’s Yeezys won. This year Virgil Abloh’s Nike Air Jordan’s got the coveted prize.
18. Her rider includes precise temperature requirements
During her 2013 Diamonds World Tour, her rider reportedly consisted of Corona, Vita Coco coconut water, Jack Daniels and Grey Goose, as well as snacks that ranged from gummy bears and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to garlic stuffed green olives. She also asked that the air conditioning was set to 23 degrees in her room, and that it contained several humidifiers.
19. Rihanna’s tour guitarist is a heavy metal pro
Nuno Bettencourt is from the Grammy-winning heavy metal band Extreme.
20. She never graduated from high school
The musician decided to pursue her music career instead – and it worked.
21. She had no idea that Jay Z would feature on ‘Umbrella’
It was kept secret from her until she heard the full and final version.
22. She asked Nicki Minaj to write some songs for ‘Rated R’
Rihanna was expecting Nicki to return with some upbeat songs for the album, but instead she returned with ballads, surprising Rihanna. However, “this was for the best” Rihanna said, “because they’re all beautiful songs.”
23. In her school days Rihanna was in the cadets
R&B singer Shontelle was also in her cadet group.
24. Jay-Z worried that ‘Pon de Replay’ would be too big for Rihanna
He thought that it would be all Rihanna would be known for. He was wrong.
25. She once witnessed an exorcism
Rihanna grew up in a religious community. In an interview with Kiss FM she said that she once witnessed a girl screaming and speaking in tongues on a table, whilst others around her prayed for her life during Church.
Words: Amber Brooks