By Samar Khoury
It’s difficult to describe Robyn Rihanna Fenty—better known as Rihanna—in one phrase, but two words sum her up perfectly: Wonder Woman.
She has created a $600 million fortune.
She’s the world’s richest female musician.
She was the third highest-paid female singer of 2019.
And she holds various titles: businesswoman, activist, philanthropist, and actress, to name just a few. Plus, she’s been honored with countless accolades throughout her career.
But Rihanna is anything but complacent.
In fact, the musician is more active than ever, advocating for equality, showing enormous support for the Black Lives Matter movement, providing relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, and launching her new skincare line.
Rihanna has left a mark, and it’s only going to get greater.
The Face of Activism
Following the tragic death of George Floyd, Rihanna was one of the first celebrities to speak out. The business mogul closed her online Fenty beauty, fashion, and lingerie stores on June 2 in honor of #BlackoutTuesday. “This is not a day off,” Rihanna said through Fenty’s Twitter page, “this is a day to reflect and find ways to make real change, this is a day to #PullUp.”
“We are not staying silent and we are not standing by,” she continued. “The fight against racial inequality, injustice, and straight up racism doesn’t stop with financial donations and words of support.”
Rihanna also pledged, through her charity organization the Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF), that she’d donate funds to Black Lives Matter Greater NY and The Bail Project.
What’s more, the fashion icon’s 2019 viral tie-dye dress made a special comeback to support Black Lives Matter. Fashion label A Sai Ta specifically created the dress for the 32-year-old singer, which made numerous headlines. “No one else has this dress apart from me and Riri,” a post on the label’s Instagram page read. “We will be producing this iconic dress EXCLUSIVELY for 3 charities. Finally, you can also have this dress!!”
Standing by the Black Lives Matter movement is only scratching the surface of Rihanna’s efforts to make change.
Amid the pandemic, Rihanna made it a mission to lend a hand to those in need. In addition to donating $5 million to COVID-19 relief efforts through CLF, she gave away personal protection equipment to New York, which used to hold the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country.
“Protecting our frontline health workers and marginalized communities around the world requires getting ahead of it FAST,” her foundation’s site read. “The time to act is now.”
Rihanna has made such a difference that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) presented her with the President’s Award during its 51st Image Awards on February 22 in Pasadena, California.
“From her business achievements through Fenty, to her tremendous record as an activist and philanthropist, Rihanna epitomizes the type of character, grace, and devotion to justice that we seek to highlight in our President’s Award.”
And devoted she has been.
“If there’s anything I’ve learned,” Rihanna said while accepting her award, “it’s that we can only fix this world together. We can’t do it divided…We can’t let the de-sensitivity seep in. The ‘If it’s your problem, then it’s not mine.’ ‘It’s a woman’s problem.’ ‘It’s a black people problem.’ ‘It’s a poor people problem.’”
The Queen of Philanthropy
Rihanna constantly aims to make the world a better place. Growing up, she often came across poor and needy children, inspiring her to give back.
Her commitment to charity work earned her Harvard’s humanitarian of the year in 2017.
In 2012, she founded CLF (named after her grandparents), a nonprofit organization committed to aiding underserved communities through health care and education.
“I feel strongly that all children everywhere should be afforded the opportunity of a quality education,” she says.
Through her annual Diamond Ball gala, Rihanna has been able to raise millions for the foundation. The Clara Lionel Foundation has since funded programs, including Children’s Orthopedic Center and the Mark Taper-Johnny Mercer Artists Program.
But it doesn’t end there.
The philanthropist is also an ambassador of her hometown, Barbados; the Global Partnership for Education; and the Global Citizen Project. She dedicates much of her time traveling and raising money for these roles.
As an ambassador of the Global Partnership for Education, Rihanna advocates for education for girls, gender equality, and those affected by war-ridden countries.
In 2016, she met with Prince Harry to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Barbadian independence and spread awareness about AIDS.
And her donations to many charities are endless.
“My money is not for me; it’s always the thought that I can help someone else,” Rihanna says.
The Road to Stardom
Although we admire Rihanna’s philanthropy and activism, we can’t forget
how we first fell in love with the Barbadian beauty—her chart-topping hits.
Rhi-Rhi, as fans like to call her, has become the youngest solo artist to score 14 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, has sold more than 54 million albums and 210 million tracks worldwide, and holds nine Grammy Awards.
Her top hits include “Diamonds,” “Umbrella,” “Work,” and much, much more.
Rihanna’s road to musical stardom is an inspiring one.
While she was growing up in Saint Michael, Barbados, her parents’ marital problems and dad’s battle with drug and alcohol addictions began to take a toll on the star. To cope, Rihanna turned to music, leading her create a musical trio with two of her classmates.
Her big break came in 2003 at age 15 when Rihanna and her bandmates were introduced to record producer Evan Rogers, who was vacationing in Barbados with his wife.
Rogers was immediately in awe. “The minute Rihanna walked into the room, it was like the other two girls didn’t exist,” he said to Entertainment Weekly.
At age 16, Rihanna moved to the US with Rogers and his wife, later being signed by Jay-Z to Def Jam Records.
From there, her career took off instantly, and she debuted her first single, “Pon de Replay.” The catchy hit made the top five in 15 countries and became a major U.S. club hit.
The popular single was included in her debut album, Music of the Sun. A year later, she released her sophomore album, A Girl Like Me—featuring No. 1 singles “SOS” and “Unfaithful.”
The rest is all history.
Rihanna’s eighth and most recent album, Anti, released in 2016, saw major success: She achieved her second consecutive No. 1 album with 166,000 first week sales.
Although fans are anxiously awaiting new music, Rihanna assures them it will be worth the wait. Currently, the entrepreneur has been focusing on her new skincare line.
“I am always working on music, and when I am ready to put it out in the way that I feel fit, it’s gonna come out. And you’re not going to be disappointed when it happens,” the singer told Entertainment Tonight.
In addition to hit albums, world tours, and movie roles—such as Home, Annie, and Ocean’s 8— Rihanna has built a beauty and fashion empire.
Her new skincare line, Fenty Skin, made its debut on July 31. People of all skin tones and types can enjoy products from the singer’s new venture. Sales have already skyrocketed.
But Rihanna has been shining in business for years. Her businesses include makeup line Fenty Beauty; Fenty, a Paris-based fashion house she created in partnership with luxury fashion group LVMH (Rihanna was the first woman and black woman to be added to the LVMH group); intimates collection Savage X Fenty; and now her new skincare line. She has also released 11 fragrances throughout the years.
It should come as no surprise that when Fenty Beauty launched in 2017, it took the world by storm. According to Forbes, the brand reported $100 million in sales in its first six weeks, reaching more than $550 million in its first year.
Rihanna’s goal was to create an inclusive makeup collection catered to people of all skin types—not just white women. So, when Fenty Beauty launched, 40 shades of foundation came along with it. This move paved the way for the beauty industry. Rihanna’s “Fenty Effect” set the precedent for foundation ranges to come.
Like her singing career, Rihanna’s love for makeup started in Barbados. She was intrigued by her mother’s lipstick and when she tried makeup for the first time, she never looked back, making it her choice for self-expression.
“Makeup is there for you to have fun with,” Rihanna says. “It should never feel like pressure. It should never feel like a uniform. Feel free to take chances, and take risks, and dare to do something new or different.”
Shining Bright Like a Diamond
Rihanna has been living in London for the past three years, focusing on her music, leading the fight for change, and continuing to be the musician we know and love.
As Rihanna’s whopping 85 million+ Instagram followers and slew of fans can attest, she’s not going anywhere.
But we can’t help but wonder: What change will she spark next?