Robyn Rihanna Fenty is in a class all by herself. That is because the self-made billionaire refuses to play by anyone’s rules and will not allow people to place her in any box that limits what she can achieve or how it is to be done.
She can be brash and unapologetic when she wants to be. Rihanna’s sharp comebacks on Twitter where she has more than 107.9 million followers are infamous, and she has a history of “taking down” some of the biggest personalities who sadly “came for her” on social media. British media personality cum broadcaster Piers Morgan and American talk-show host Wendy Williams have felt the sting of the local star’s rebuke.
Then there is the other side of Rihanna – the humanitarian and philanthropist, who has used much of her wealth and access to support causes that are important to her. These include more than BDS $30 million to support education for girls and women, her fight against poverty in the developing world, and her support of cancer research and treatment locally and abroad. We also recall her interventions to source critical medical equipment such as ventilators for Barbados during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We tend to refer to Rihanna’s meteoric rise to fame from her teen years when she auditioned for American record producer Evan Rogers, who invited the young talent to the United States where she was signed by Jay Z’s Def Jam record label in 2005.
Producing No. 1 Billboard hits back-to-back for several years has become a foil for something much bigger that Rihanna loves as much or even more than music. It was her passion for fashion and beauty that has become an empire including her Fenty Cosmetics and Savage X line.
A brilliant marketer, when most people including Barbadians were expecting her to bring along some sidekicks to boost her production at the Super Bowl, Rihanna brought along more Rihanna. She took a classy “make-up break” during her performance showcasing her Fenty Skin and Beauty brands. She wore her signature red Fenty lipstick and the Westbury Road, St Michael mega businesswoman made sure all those scores of dancers wore Savage X Fenty lingerie and loungewear.
It was a masterstroke, as she was before one of the biggest American audiences and was not being paid for the spectacular event. Following the Super Bowl show, reports are that sales have rocketed for the Fenty boxers that the dancers wore and many of her beauty products.
Frankly, the half-time show was a Rihanna master class in entrepreneurship and marketing. The showcasing of her products; her triumphant return to the music stage after almost half of a decade building her fashion brands and eager fans begging for new music; topped by her high-flying performance that twinned as an audacious new baby announcement more than 125 feet in the air.
Rihanna has nothing to prove to anyone and requires no further validation that she is a one-in-a-lifetime phenomenal woman who took the start she was given, worked extremely hard and consistently and continues to reap the rewards of those efforts without compromising.
Despite her detractors, who include none other than the twice impeached, former United States president who is under more criminal investigations than people can count on both hands, Rihanna broke the record on Sunday night for the most watched Super Bowl halftime show of more than 118 million viewers.
When we see Rihanna, we see an audacious, strong, bold Barbadian and Caribbean woman and mother. She was raised in Westbury Road, where neighbours are poor but look out for each other. She flew kites in Westbury Cemetery with the other children but always focused on her dream of being famous.
There is another reason why Barbadians are so enamoured by Rihanna. It is the superstar’s love for her homeland and the fact that she lets the world know it. We are proud that she loves her family, her Westbury Road community and how authentic she remains with her Bajan accent unbroken. We also marvel that she has stuck to the same Bajan girlfriends who were there when she had no money or fame.
We also love that when she wants to escape the trauma and stress of celebrity life in the United States that she frequently heads to the place where she says she always feels safe and protected – Barbados – with her friends, family and neighbours.