- Rihanna is a Grammy-winning artist, but even her biggest fans might not know some of these facts.
- She holds multiple Guinness World Records and she’s had a song top the charts for 10 weeks.
- Rihanna’s hit song “Umbrella” was originally written for Britney Spears.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Robyn Rihanna Fenty, most-commonly known as Rihanna, is one of the biggest stars of the 21st century.
Here are some surprising fun facts you might not know about Rihanna:
You’ve probably been pronouncing her name wrong.
She had a cameo in “Bring It On: All or Nothing.”
Rihanna played herself in the 2000s cheer film.
She appeared as a judge at the final tournament where she announced the winning cheer team who got to perform in her music video.
Rihanna won a beauty pageant in high school.
In 2004, a year before her first hit single “Pon de Replay” was released, Rihanna won her high-school beauty pageant. She was crowned Miss Combermere, in part, because of her performance of Mariah Carey’s “Hero” in the talent portion.
She told The Daily Mail in 2007 that she’d joined the pageant on a dare.
She received military training in Barbados.
Before she became a worldwide phenomenon, Rihanna was an army cadet in a sub-military program in Barbados, the singer’s home country.
In the same Daily Mail interview, she told the publication that her military training actually helped her to compete in the beauty pageant.
“My military training came in handy for learning to balance books on my head for the catwalk,” she said.
“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,” she said.
Rihanna signed her first record deal at 16 years old, and Jay-Z played a role in the offer.
After an audition for record producer Evan Rogers in 2003, Rihanna produced a demo in 2004 and was later flown to New York to meet with Jay-Z, the then-president of the Def Jam record label.
He wanted to sign Rihanna so badly that the label’s meeting with her reportedly went until 3 a.m. while the lawyers ironed out all the details.
At the age of 16, Rihanna signed a contract with the label.
“Umbrella” wasn’t originally written for Rihanna.
Rihanna’s hit song almost wasn’t hers.
According to Vice, the song was originally written for Britney Spears, who rejected the offer. It was then offered to both Mary J. Blige and Def Jam Records.
Blige wasn’t able to finalize the deal, so the record label was able to purchase the song for Rihanna.
Don’t try to bring an umbrella to her shows.
After “Umbrella” became a hit in 2008, Rihanna had to ban umbrellas from her shows due to heightened security risks.
One of her most successful songs topped the charts for 10 weeks in a row.
In 2011, Rihanna saw major success with her song “We Found Love” featuring DJ Calvin Harris. The song topped the charts for 10 weeks in a row and was on the Top 100 charts for nearly a year.
Harris later told The Sun in 2012 that the song completely changed his career, according to New Musical Express magazine.
She holds a few different Guinness World Records.
Rihanna broke multiple Guinness World Records, including “most consecutive years of UK no. 1 singles,” “female artist with most US no. 1 singles in a year,” and “most digital no. 1 singles in the US.”
Rihanna sometimes sneaks into her audience before shows.
Rihanna’s preshow rituals include a diluted shot and sometimes sneaking into the audience to watch the opening act.
She told Esquire in 2011 that she takes the shot to calm her nerves before every show.
“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.
While she’s sipping her drink, she watches the opening act from her dressing room or from the audience if she has the proper attire.
“Sometimes I go out into the audience. I put on a really big hoodie and sneak out there,” she told Esquire.
She starred in a few videos for The Lonely Island.
She was the first woman to launch a fashion line for LVMH.
She is known for her philanthropic work.
Rihanna won the 2017 Harvard Humanitarian of the Year award for her dedicated work and charitable service over the past decade.
Most recently, her Clara Lionel Foundation donated $5 million to coronavirus relief efforts.
She made a guest appearance on “Bates Motel” in 2017.
The superstar is known for her roles in films like “Ocean’s 8” and “Home,” but many fans may be surprised to learn that she made a two-episode guest appearance on A and E Network’s “Bates Motel” in 2017.
She played the ill-fated character Marion Crane.
She said she’s witnessed a few exorcisms.
In the video, Rihanna recounts one of her experiences that happened at a church where a girl “went out of control” and everyone heard a “different voice.”
Rihanna wasn’t allowed to wear makeup growing up.
Although she’s now a beauty mogul, Rihanna wasn’t allowed to wear makeup growing up.
“My mom wasn’t flexible. I wore no makeup,” she told InStyle in 2017.
Rihanna also said her love of all things beauty related came from watching her mother work at a beauty counter when she was growing up.
Rihanna has gotten vocal lessons from fellow musician Ne-Yo.
Although she never received formal vocal training, Rihanna did take informal lessons from fellow R&B singer Ne-Yo in 2007.
“When I’m in the studio, he’ll tell me how to breathe and stuff,” she told MTV that year.
The pair were reportedly working on new music together when the lessons occurred.
She has a street named after her in Barbados.
According to Billboard, the street Rihanna grew up on in Barbados was renamed from Westbury New Road to Rihanna Drive.
The superstar attended the naming ceremony on Barbados Independence Day in 2017.
There are several wax figures of her displayed around the world.
As of 2013, Rihanna had eight different wax figures displayed in Madame Tussauds wax museums around the world.
The most recent, which can be seen at the New York Times Square location, took four months to create.
She seemingly can’t really wink.
Many fans say that she simply closes both eyes and reopens one first to make it look like she’s winking.