Interview: Rita Ora on tie-dye, tequila, and taking things slow

Interviewed by her friend, Joséphine de La Baume, Rita Ora talks about taking time to be still and being open to new ideas creatively.
Reading time 14 minutes

Maybe you know Rita Ora (@ritaora) because of her hit singles, “Your Song,” or “How We Do (Party).” Or maybe from her role in the Fifty Shades film series? from her tequila brand, Próspero? Suffice to say, the 29-year-old Brit is a multi-hyphenate extraordinaire. 

Initially rising to popularity in 2012 after the featuring on DJ Fresh’s single, “Hot Right Now,” her first studio album, Ora, debuted at number 1 in the UK. She’s been a judge on The X Factor, RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, and Masked Singer UK, and was a host on America’s Next Top Model.

Ora has been confining with her good friend Joséphine de La Baume, so L’Officiel USA had de La Baume conduct this interview. Read on to see what Ora has to say about her upcoming film (with the legendary Michael Caine), the in-home music video she made for her latest single, and making cocktails during quarantine.

J: It's like we're meeting all over again whereas we've actually been in quarantine together for what, seven weeks?

R: Seven and a half weeks we've been living together.


J: We haven't had one fight.

R: Now we haven’t, wow, a miracle.


J: How have you been feeling during quarantine?

R: I've been okay. I've been a bit confused. Some days are harder than other days. I keep myself busy. We work out, cook food, make smoothies, put on makeup basically just to wash it off again. Shopping online, which hasn't been easy, making music in the studio, here we have like a handmade studio, which is nice. It's nice to also not be alone. I can only imagine what it must feel like for people on their own.


J: Yeah, totally. We've been extremely lucky to be all together. Do you feel like creatively anything new has happened for you since you've been here that will have an impact on stuff that you might make in the future?

R: I think creatively I've become really open to ideas and suggestions whereas before I was very like, this is what I want to do and that's it. During this quarantine, I've had a lot of time to experiment, so I've become more open to experimenting and taking other people's suggestions of music and just testing things out and trying things that I probably wouldn't really do if I didn't have this much time.


J: You've been keeping really busy. I have to say.

R: I have, haven't I?


J: Yeah, it's been pretty impressive.

R: I think we both have, I've also been catching up on 10 years of sleep that I haven't really had since I've been working, but we've been really busy and you've been teaching me about a lot of movies.


J: Yeah. And you've been showing me fantastic TV shows and I've never seen before.

R: You've been showing me really highly, critically acclaimed incredible movies, and I've been showing Joséphine the most amazing reality TV ever known to mankind. You need a balance.


J: It's the yin and the yang. We're helping complete each other in so many ways during this quarantine. We've been having really cosy sleepovers too.

R: We've been sleeping over, doing face masks.


J: I've got to experiment with your tie-dye obsessions. I've been looking like I'm going to Burning Man when I put on your pajama outfit.

R: I'm obsessed with tye-dye.


J: You’ve been having pretty sexy outfits when you're going to bed I have to say as well.

R: Thank you. I have to. I dream better when I look sexy.

I've really discovered a lot about myself, about being calm and being at one place at one time and not thinking about the next day or the next day. It's taken a lot of anxiety off me.

J: What do you dream about?

R: Sex.


J: Who isn't at the moment. So tell me about music. You have a new video coming out.

R: Yes. I have a song that's out already called "How to be Lonely." It was by Dave Meyers, the original music video, but because of quarantine I wanted to do an in house edition. So, I bought a green screen, we set up the whole room and I reshot a little home edition of the song. That's going to come out very soon. But "How to be Lonely" is really funny because people think it's about now, obviously, but it's actually a breakup song. The song has now taken a whole new meaning. I guess it's meant to do what it's doing.


J: What a crazy coincidence. Or you're a psychic, one or the other. And your movie project?

R: Yes. I have a few movie projects that I'm doing. The first one I think I'm really excited about is the remake of Oliver Twist. I'm playing Dodge, Artful Dodger, which was originally played by a man, so the fact that I'm doing as a female is very modern. We wanted to switch it up a bit. And then Michael Caine plays Fagan.


J: What a legend. How is it working with Michael Caine?

R: He's very professional. He swears a lot, which I love. Very East London, very cockney, just what he's always been like. And Raff Law plays Oliver, which is really exciting. He looks great in it.


J: When is the film coming out?

R: Oliver Twist was supposed to come out this year, but with everything happening, I think it's been moved to next year. I don't know now. But all I know is that when it does come out, it's going to be really cool.


J: Do you have one good anecdote from this filming? Is there anything embarrassing that happened on set or something memorable that happened on set?

R: Well, it's definitely very different from the music industry. I have to say the long hours are killer. I would wake up at like 5:00 AM and we'd film until like 9:00 PM. I really at times thought I was so tired I was going to die. And then I was like, obviously people have been doing this for years, but it's always with music, you work on your clock, it's with the music world, it's for you. People do what I kind of want them to do, you know? But with film you have to really be patient and wait.


J: It's a lot of waiting. What were you doing when you were on your trailer waiting?

R: Sleeping.


J: You love sleeping. You're a great sleeper.

R: I am. I sleep for a long time. I like sleeping. I party hard and I rest.


J: We've had a lot of fun in this house. You've been trying to teach us to twerk. Is it even called twerking?

R: I think it's still called twerking.


J: I feel like it's more of a twist on it. You have a twist on it.

R: That's the French version.

J: I've had to settle for the French version, which has nothing to do with your version cause I couldn't master your version. Yours is impressive.

R: The ghetto version is a lot of bounce. You know, you've just gotta let it go. Let it bounce.


J: It's a bit more graphic. 

R: But we've also been making cocktails.


J: We've been making cocktails. We've been really liking the Picante which we've stolen from um...

R:  A lot of different bars. We've been using my tequila as well, which I love.


J: The tequila has been incredible. Can you tell us more about this tequila?

R: This is a whole nother thing that I'm doing. I do a lot of things. For people that don't really know about me, I'm a really three 60 type of businesswoman. I like to see myself as that. So I have a tequila that I started with a woman in Tequila, Mexico. It's a very male-dominated industry so I wanted to do a tequila that is usually run by males, but a female version. Próspero is the name of my tequila. And that was what inspired me to get into the alcohol industry. I wanted to do something with a woman who was behind the scenes of a lot of tequila brands that you all drink. She makes them all—Don Julio 1942, all of that. I asked if she was okay being behind the scenes and she was like, well I'm used to it. I said, you should be in front of the camera and have your own tequila, because you make all of them, and that's how the conversation started. Now we have this tequila, we've sold a lot in America, hopefully it's going to come to Europe soon.


J: You won something even, wasn't there a contest?

R: There's a usual alcohol thing, it's like a top 10 rank every year of all the most famous celebrities who have the biggest alcohol. You have George Clooney and you have Jay Z with his whiskey and then Drake. I was the only female in that list of males, and for the first year, we were at number seven, which was very impressive cause there's a lot of alcohol out there. That's a really good sign that this tequila is hopefully going to grow.


J: I'd really like to thank you and your entire team for saving our quarantine with your tequila. That's been a fantastic crutch to some moments of misery, which we haven't had a lot, but you know, it's been nice sometimes just a little bit of help.

R: It's been nice to have friends and me who can really calm each other down and keep you until the sane.


J: Exactly. Your tour in South America, right? That had to be canceled, which is devastating.

R: I was meant to be on tour right now in South America and it was rescheduled until November. I mean, let's see what happens, but that's what they said. It's the Lollapalooza run which is really exciting, you know, the whole of South America. It was going to be so, so fun. It's a bit sad because touring for me is my favorite thing in the world.


J: Is there anything during this quarantine that—we're moving onto a bit more spiritual stuff—during this quarantine do you feel like you've come to any sort of epiphany or realization or things that you might have figured out about yourself that you hadn't?

R: I think just to be still, I don't think I've ever been still for the past 10 years. I don't know if I can be still. And I've really discovered a lot about myself, about being calm and being at one place at one time and not thinking about the next day or the next day. It's taken a lot of anxiety off me because I've always been very self-critical and very competitive and hard-working, so I would always think about the next thing. It really takes a toll on your mental health.


J: You've been quite impressive actually at being very solid in this house when maybe some other people were a bit more emotional. Almost like the way you live your life has trained you. It could have done the opposite where suddenly it would've been such a change of lifestyle could panic you. But you’ve managed to apply, within this stillness, a very proactive way about things and it's been very inspiring for all of us to see you do that. On that note, is there anything you'd like to tell people or some kind of message that you feel might help them through the next stage of all of this?

R: I want to just say to my French and American fans specifically, thank you for being there for me all these years. It's been about 10 years since I've been in this industry now. The journey has been tough, the journey has been long, there's been highs and lows, but I'm very grateful to have made such strong fans on both sides of the pond. During all of this, I think it's a good reminder that no matter who you are or what it is that you do, we're all in the same boat right now. And I think there's something very special about that. If we can get together and be a bigger community, that will only make us stronger. 



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