Is there anyone who seems to have more fun with fame, fashion, and all the assorted trappings that come with being a celebrity in 2018 than Rihanna? Beloved Rih also happens to be the recipient of our illustrious first place award for best Met Gala meme of all time, for, of course, rocking her gold Guo Pei gown and its massive yellow, fur-lined cape with a 16-foot train. Between her critically-lauded fashion line, Fenty x Puma, retaining her title as one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, and a slew of high-profile acting gigs—including joining the seriously star-powered ensemble of Oceans Eight— 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. Like many who’ve come before her, Rihanna does not actually go by her given name. The 27-year-old Barbadian beauty was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty. Her middle name is Arabic and means “sweet basil.” With her family and close friends, she still goes by Robyn. “I get kind of numb to hearing Rihanna, Rihanna, Rihanna,” she has told Rolling Stone. “When I hear Robyn, I pay attention.” (Also: According to Rihanna’s Instagram, we may have been mispronouncing her stage name. Turns out, it’s Ri-Anna.)
2. At 15, Rihanna won her high school beauty pageant and was named Miss Combermere after performing Mariah Carey’s “Hero.” “I kind of laughed at these stupid pageants,” Rihanna told the Daily Mail in 2007. “But my friends at school dared me to do it, and my military training came in handy for learning to balance books on my head for the catwalk.”
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3. In 2007, Gillette insured Rihanna’s legs for $1 million. “They named me this year’s Celebrity Legs of a Goddess, so along with the title comes an insurance for your legs of a million dollars,” she has told theGuardian. “But I think I’m just normal. I think, ‘Do people really insure their legs for a million dollars?’ If it was my million dollars, I’d probably walk about in pants all day long.”
4. Rihanna Navy isn’t just the nickname for her fanbase—Rih has actually had real life military experience…sort of. The “Umbrella” singer was an army cadet in a sub-military program in her native Barbados. Singer-songwriter Shontelle was even 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.”
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5. Rihanna has 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.”
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