This Rihanna reign just doesn’t let up. Despite her long and unending hiatus from music, the makeup mogul continues to break down barriers as an entrepreneur.
While many fans have jokingly called Rihanna “the Avon Lady” While waiting for her next album, her fashion and beauty hub was much more than that. Through her company, Fenty, Rihanna has revolutionized makeup, skincare, and lingerie with an eye towards diversity and inclusivity. She even debuted on the Forbes billionaires list in 2022. However, things haven’t always been so glamorous for the star. When you hear “Rihanna” and “military” in the same sentence, two images might come to mind: her fan base, the Rihanna Navy, and her acting debut in the 2012 film Battleship. Surprisingly, the film arrived a little closer to home than the fans might have known.
Rihanna’s life before fame is mostly discussed in terms of talent shows and beauty pageants, but the singer has a surprising boot camp background. Years before her turn as a chart-topper and makeup mogul, she gained valuable skills and experience from her native Barbados that paved the way for her tough girl image.
Rihanna’s training began at the age of 11
It’s impressive enough that Rihanna recorded “Pon de Replay” when she was 16, but she went through rigorous sub-military training five years earlier. Strangely enough, she took orders from another Barbadian singer: Shontelle from “T-Shirt” and “Impossible”. In fact, Shontelle was Rihanna’s drill sergeant. In an interview with the BBC in 2009, Shontelle explained: “We were both in cadets together – it wasn’t mandatory or anything.
By “cadets” Shontelle is referring to the Barbados Cadets Corps, a program for Barbadian teenagers that prepares them for military success. However, even then, the famously rebellious Rihanna wasn’t the best at taking orders. In 2015, she told NME, “We would to have Trying to enjoy this discipline we got. And we refused to do push-ups when we were punished. The question was: why? Playing by the rules was so boring.” It sounds like Shontelle has her hands full! Either way, despite Rihanna’s disobedience, the skills she learned in training would eventually come in handy.
Rihanna’s cadet background helped her prepare for Battleship
Based on the famous board game, Battleship brought the pop star’s cadet training to the big screen. Playing the role of Officer Cora Raikes, Rihanna actually went through another round of boot camp to get into the character’s headspace.
When it came to the intense physical aspect of the workout, it didn’t sound like Rihanna had changed all that much since her cadet days. In a press conference for Battleship, she told Digital Spy, “Every minute of training I thought about quitting. I thought I had to get this guy out of my hotel room. He can’t yell at me like that in my room it’s scary!”
Unfortunately, it was all for naught when “Battleship” bombarded the box office and critics. It was nominated for a whopping seven categories at the 33rd Golden Raspberry Awards, with Rihanna taking home the Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress herself. Rihanna never acknowledged the win, but it’s safe to say it hasn’t stopped her from pursuing future acting opportunities. A few years later, she lent her voice to the animated film Home, and later appeared in Ocean’s 8 alongside Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett. While Rihanna hasn’t returned to her military roots, they have at least led to film roles, a surprising Shontelle connection, and an impressive fandom name.