Inside the penthouse suite at New York City’s Mercer Hotel, it’s not the stark white interior or the morning sun that lights up the room. The illumination comes courtesy of beauty icon Rita Ora.
“I don’t dress up for men, I dress up for myself,” she tells Hello! Canada. “I’m confident and I really stand by that.”
The Kosovo-born, British-raised singer rocks knuckles loaded with sparkling rings and nails freshly painted with the singer’s line of lacquers created for Rimmel London. “I picked all of the names,” she says of the cheeky shades like “Ora-gasm” and “Midnight Rendezvous.”
The 23-year-old star was recently in Vancouver shooting scenes for a role in Fifty Shades of Grey and has been sharing studio time with Prince for her second album on Jay Z’s RocNation label. Due to be released around the new year, the album features another notable name – her then-boyfriend, musician Calvin Harris.
“This album for me was about love, loving everything and making it come out in music,” says Rita. Here, the outspoken blond beauty talks makeup, her famous namesake and the best place in Canada to meet a man.
Do you remember the first time you experimented
Well, I stole my mom’s makeup. She used to have drawers of it in the bathroom, and I would just go in there and play with it, then go downstairs, and my mom would [look at me] but she wouldn’t say anything. She wouldn’t criticize me, she let me play.
You’re known for your platinum locks. How old
were you when you first went blond?
I was 14. I got two streaks of blond that were supposed to be highlights but turned orange. I haven’t turned back since. I love glamour, thought blonds had more fun, and I was obsessed with Gwen Stefani. When I saw this woman jump on TV with blond hair, red lips, sneakers and a bikini top, I was like, “Who is that? Whoa!” She and Marilyn Monroe inspired me.
‘I love glamour, I thought blonds had more fun, and I was obsessed with Gwen Stefani’
Speaking of glamour, were you really named
after Rita Hayworth?
Yes. My granddad was a movie director. I wish the rest of the world got to see [his film]; maybe I’ll put it out one day. Anyway, he loved Rita Hayworth and he said, “Can we name her after Rita?” I love the name and what she stood for.
If we were to take a peek inside your closet,
what would we see?
You’ll see things like 3-D dresses, jackets, see-through transparent pieces... Then I have a pile that is all simple items like a white T-shirt and leather pants.
What was your favourite thing to do while you
were shooting in Vancouver?
Going skiing. It was pretty cold but the boys are really hot and the bars are great! [ Laughs]
Whose opinion do you trust when it comes to
The best opinions are from fans. They don’t know how to play the instrument but love listening to the music. My mom is one of those people.
Your parents had to start over when they immigrated
to London from Kosovo. What did
that teach you?
My mom was studying for her psychiatry degree, learning English and raising me and my sister. I have nothing but respect for her and other women who come from another place and make a home for their kids. She gave me her work ethic: you have a bit of success, but what do you do? Enjoy it or keep working? You keep working, so that’s what I’ll be doing.