Bri Malandro, the pop culture archivist who coined the phrase “yee haw agenda,” put it most succinctly on Twitter this morning: “Rihanna in her 30s hittin different.” There’s really no better way to describe the grace and seeming ease with which the pop star from Barbados has evolved beyond the limitations of a music career. Now 31, Rihanna has been working literally around the clock to provide her cavalcade of fans with lingerie, an affordable couture clothing line and another album (but only when it’s good and ready). The artist gave an interesting interview to her Ocean’s 8 costar Sarah Paulson that was published on Monday, and which shows just how simultaneously fractured and sometimes-satisfying celebrity journalism has become.
Observer has emphasized before how something fundamental is lost when very famous and influential people withdraw from the press and only allow their friends to interview them for big publications. Hard-hitting queries are swapped for boring, philosophically-flavored softball questions; strong narratives are abandoned in favor of saccharine banter, etc. Here, interestingly, Rihanna offers a new dimension to this friend-journalism phenomenon. She actually does allow her friend Sarah Paulson to ask her probing questions. In fact, she invites them.
Complying, Paulson asks Rihanna whether she’s dating anyone. “Google it,” Rihanna replies. She’s dating a hot Saudi billionaire named Hassan Jameel, by the way. Is she in love? “Of course.” Is she going to get married? “Only god knows that, girl. We plan and god laughs, right?” Does she want kids? “More than anything in life.”
But who Rihanna is dating is perhaps the least interesting element of this interview: it’s Rihanna herself who continues to fascinate, inspire devotion and make us ponder what she could possibly be thinking at all times.
“I’ve always had pretty tough skin—even as a little girl, which was completely due to my parents,” Rihanna told Paulson. “They never sheltered me in any way. They would tease me, and I would tease them right back. By the time I got to school, I always had this feeling like the kids were stupid. Maybe that was god’s way of preparing me for what my life was going to be like. I don’t feel any way about people’s comments.”
Rihanna has clearly always been on top of whatever world she happened to find herself in, and that’s power.