Rita Ora

Rita Ora

Ora at Perez Hilton's One Night in Los Angeles, September 2012
Background information
Birth name Rita Sahatçiu[1][2]
Born (1990-11-26) 26 November 1990
Pristina, SFR Yugoslavia
Origin London, England
  • Singer
  • actress
  • fashion designer[3]
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2007–present
Associated acts DJ Fresh
Website ritaora.com

Rita Sahatçiu Ora (born Rita Sahatçiu; 26 November 1990) is a British singer and actress. Her debut studio album, Ora, released in 2012, debuted at number one in the United Kingdom. The album contained the UK number-one singles, "R.I.P." and "How We Do (Party)". After reaching the peak position as a featured act on DJ Fresh's "Hot Right Now", Ora became the artist with the most number-one singles on the UK Singles Chart in 2012, with three consecutive singles reaching the top position.[4] She was nominated for three Brit Awards at the 2013 ceremony.[5]

Her single, "I Will Never Let You Down", became her fourth UK number one when it debuted at the top of the charts in 2014.[6] Also in 2014, Ora featured on Iggy Azalea's single, "Black Widow", which reached number three in the US. In 2015, Ora became a coach on the fourth series of The Voice UK and, later that year, a judge on the twelfth series of The X Factor.

Early life

Ora was born in Pristina, SFR Yugoslavia (present-day Kosovo)[1] to Albanian parents. Her mother, Vera Sahatçiu (née Bajraktari), is a psychiatrist, and her father, Besnik Sahatçiu, is an economist and a pub owner.[7][8][9] Her mother is Catholic and her father is Muslim.[7] Ora has an older sister, Elena, and a younger brother, Don. She was named after the favourite film star of her film director grandfather Besim Sahatçiu, Rita Hayworth.[10] She was born as Rita Sahatçiu (pronounced [sahatˈtʃiu]; surname derived from the Turkish word saatçi which means "watchmaker"), but her father later added Ora (means "time" in Albanian) to the family surname so it could be easily pronounced.[2]

Her family left Kosovo for political reasons, because of the persecution of ethnic Albanians initiated with the disintegration of Yugoslavia.[11] They relocated to England in 1991, when she was a year old, settling in London.[7] She grew up near Portobello Road in West London,[12] and attended St Cuthbert with St Matthias CE Primary School in Earls Court, following which she graduated from a performing arts school, Sylvia Young Theatre School, and then St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College.[13] She began singing at an early age.[14][15]

Music career

Ora in Pristina, Kosovo during the filming of the "Shine Ya Light" music video in September 2012

2007–10: Career beginnings

Ora began performing at open mic sessions around London and, occasionally, in her father's pub.[10] In 2007, Ora had her first music release when she appeared on Craig David's track titled "Awkward", and then again in 2008 on "Where's Your Love", featuring Tinchy Stryder. On both tracks she was not officially credited.[16][17] She featured on two songs of James Morrison's album, Songs for You, Truths for Me, as backing vocalist.[18]

In 2008, she auditioned for Eurovision: Your Country Needs You on BBC One to be the British contestant for the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 and qualified, but later withdrew from the competition after a few episodes as she "did not feel ready" and thought "that challenge wasn't for her."[19][20] Her manager, Sarah Stennett (who also worked with Ellie Goulding, Jessie J and Conor Maynard), later told HitQuarters that Ora had entered the competition because at the time she felt it was her only chance at finding success.[21] Stennett reassured her that performing in Eurovision would hinder rather than help her chances to make it as a solo artist.[21]

Shortly after, Stennett got in touch with the American label, Roc Nation, and told them about Ora. She signed a recording deal and a publishing deal with Roc Nation in December 2008, and was one of their first signees.[22][21][23] She made cameo appearances in Jay Z's video for "Young Forever" (2009) and Drake's video, "Over" (2010).[24][25] After being signed, Ora recorded an album and wanted to release it, but her label advised against it and she started to work on other material for her debut album.[10]

2011–13: Breakthrough and Ora

Ora performing in Sepang, Malaysia during the Future Music Festival Asia, in 2013

Throughout 2011, Ora released covers and videos about working on her debut album on YouTube.[26] The videos caught the attention of DJ Fresh, who at that time was looking for a female vocalist for his song, "Hot Right Now".[27] Ora featured on the single that was released on 12 February 2012, reaching number one on the UK Singles Chart.[28] During February 2012, Ora was also the opening act at the UK concerts from Drake's Club Paradise Tour.

The first UK single from her debut album, "R.I.P." (featuring Tinie Tempah), was released on 6 May 2012.[29] Produced by Chase & Status, the song debuted at the top of the UK Singles Chart, becoming her first solo UK number one.[30] On 12 August 2012, "How We Do (Party)" was released and reached number one in the UK and Ireland. It was Ora's second UK number one as a solo artist, and third overall in 2012.[31]

Whilst supporting Coldplay on their Mylo Xyloto Tour, she later announced that her debut album would be titled Ora.[32] It was released on 27 August 2012 and debuted at the top of the UK Albums Chart.[4] Ora was nominated for Best New Artist, Push Artist and Best UK/Ireland Act at the 2012 MTV Europe Music Awards.[33] In September 2012, it was announced that Ora will be the opening act on the UK concerts from Usher's Euphoria Tour set to start in January 2013. Eventually, the tour was postponed due to Usher's "professional and personal commitments."[34] From 23 October through to 30 October 2012, Ora embarked on her first headlining tour, Ora Tour, a mini-concert US tour.

"Shine Ya Light", released on 4 November 2012, became Ora's fourth consecutive top ten single in the UK, peaking at number ten.[35][36] On 28 November 2012, Ora performed as a special guest at the concert held in Tirana, Albania for the 100th Anniversary of the Independence of Albania.[37] Ora embarked on her first UK tour, "Radioactive Tour", in January 2013, to support her debut album. She was nominated for three awards at the 2013 Brit Awards, including the Brit Award for British Breakthrough Act.[5]

2013–present: Upcoming second studio album

In January 2013, Ora revealed that her second album would be clearer and have more direction than the first one.[38] On 26 February 2013, she revealed to Digital Spy that she had been working with Dev Hynes for the second album and that the record shows a different angle to a "party girl".[39][40]

On 24 May 2013, Ora was the headline act on 1Xtra Arena/In New Music We Trust stage at Radio 1's Big Weekend.[41] On 28 June 2013, Ora performed on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.[42] On 30 January 2014, she announced that her new single would be called "I Will Never Let You Down", produced by Calvin Harris.[43][44] On 18 May 2014, the song debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart, making it Ora's fourth overall single to reach the apex of the chart, and third as a solo artist.[45]

Ora featured on Iggy Azalea's single titled "Black Widow", from her album The New Classic.[46] "Black Widow" peaked at number four in the UK, and became Ora's first top ten song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at number three.[47] On 14 December 2014, Ora performed at the 2014 telecast of Christmas in Washington, filmed at the National Building Museum.[48] On 22 February 2015, at the 87th Academy Awards, she performed the Academy Award-nominated song "Grateful", which appears in the film Beyond the Lights.[49] On 28 June 2015, Ora released the song, "Poison", which debuted at number three on the UK Singles Chart, becoming her sixth top five single in the country.[50]

In December 2015, Ora filed a lawsuit against Roc Nation, seeking release from the label and citing that the contract she signed in 2008 is "unenforceable", due to California's "seven-year rule." The complaint stated that she's "only been permitted to release one album despite creating multiple additional records for release" and that her relationship with Roc Nation is "irrevocably damaged."[51][52] Her complaint also pointed out a breach of contract, reporting that Roc Nation breached the recording agreement by improperly taking twenty per cent commission of her income from opportunities that it did not procure or was not authorised.[53] In January 2016, Roc Nation filed a counter-lawsuit against Ora for breaking her recording contract, in New York.[54] They reached a settlement in May 2016.[55]

In June 2016, it was reported that she signed a new record deal with Atlantic Records.[56] On 3 September 2016, she performed in a concert at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, in Rome, at the vigil for Mother Teresa's canonisation, alongside other Albanian artists, accompanied by the Kosovo Philharmonic Orchestra.[57][58]

Other ventures


An appearance in an episode of the British drama series, The Brief, was her first television role, at the age of 13. Shortly after, she appeared in the British film, Spivs (2004), playing an Albanian immigrant.[59] In 2013, Ora appeared as a guest star in 90210, as well as appearing as a race caller in the film Fast & Furious 6.[59][60] Ora was featured in Jay Z's Made in America, a Ron Howard-directed documentary about the Budweiser Made in America Festival, which premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.[61] In April 2014, Ora appeared alongside Korean pop star, Hyuna, in an episode of Funny or Die called "Girl, You Better Walk."[62]

In 2015, she played Christian Grey's sister, Mia, in the film adaptation of the best-selling novel, Fifty Shades of Grey.[63][64] Ora originally approached the production hoping to contribute to the film's soundtrack, and instead was asked to audition for the role of Mia Grey by the director of the film, Sam Taylor-Johnson.[65][66] She will reprise her role as Mia in the two film sequels.


In 2010, Ora featured in a commercial for Skullcandy headphones.[67] She appeared in two Calvin Klein campaigns, in 2010 and 2011.[68][69] In 2013, she was the face of Italian sneaker brand, Superga, and the new face of "Material Girl", a clothing line designed by Madonna.[70][71] She was the face of two Donna Karan 2014 collections, Resort collection and Autumn/Winter collection.[72][73][74] She's also the face of the label's fragrance, DKNY My NY, inspired by New York City.[75] In March 2014, Ora was one of the cast members of Marks & Spencer's "Leading Ladies" campaign.[76][77] Later in 2014, she appeared as the face of Roberto Cavalli Autumn/Winter campaign.[78] In 2015, she appeared in Coca-Cola and Samsung Galaxy S6 advertising campaigns.[79][80]


In September 2013, cosmetics brand, Rimmel, announced their collaboration with Ora for makeup collections.[81][82] In January 2014, Adidas announced a designer collaboration with Ora for their line of casual sports clothing, Adidas Originals.[83][84] Ora designed her own apparel collections for the brand, including footwear and accessories.[3] In 2016, she collaborated with Italian fashion brand, Tezenis, on a capsule lingerie collection.[85][86]


Following the departure of judge Kelly Rowland, Ora was asked to be a guest judge on the ninth series of The X Factor in the UK. She was a judge during the auditions that were filmed at the O2 Arena in London.[87] In 2013 and 2014, Ora hosted the BBC Radio 1's Teen Awards alongside Nick Grimshaw.[88][89]

In 2015, she was a coach on the fourth series of The Voice UK on BBC One.[90] The same year, it was confirmed that Ora and BBC Radio 1 presenter, Nick Grimshaw, signed as judges for the twelfth series of The X Factor on the rival TV network ITV, after a bidding war between The X Factor and The Voice UK.[87] She mentored the "Girls" category and chose Louisa Johnson, Lauren Murray, Kiera Weathers and Monica Michael for the live shows. Johnson became Ora's final act in the competition after the semi-final and subsequently won the series.

In July 2016, Tyra Banks, the creator of America's Next Top Model, announced that Ora will replace her as host of the show which will air on VH1.[91]


Ora possesses a mezzo-soprano vocal range.[92] Ora credited Gwen Stefani and Beyoncé as her idols and biggest influences.[93] Ora called Beyoncé her mentor, expressing admiration and gratitude at being able to have Beyoncé give her feedback on her debut album.[94] Her other musical influences include Freddie Mercury, Christina Aguilera, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Celine Dion, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, and Sade.[10][93][95] Ora also stated that she was inspired by her parents' record collection which included artists such as Prince, Earth, Wind & Fire, Eric Clapton and B.B. King.[10][96]

Personal life

"My parents brought us [my elder sister and younger brother] to this country with the hope and the dream that we could get a decent education, which is so important for our aspirations and for what we want to achieve in our lives. I grew up in Britain, a country that has given me so much for which I am grateful, but I will always have a special place in my heart for my home town and Kosovo."

—Ora speaking in 2015 on her move from Pristina, Kosovo to London.[97]

Ora speaks Albanian. Asked about her religion, Ora said that she doesn't consider herself religious, but "more of a spiritual person."[98] Ora considers herself a feminist.[99][100]

Her maternal grandfather, Osman Bajraktari, was a diplomat. He was the Albanian consul to Russia (then part of the Soviet Union) in the 1980s.[101][102]

On 10 July 2015, Ora was named an honorary ambassador for the Republic of Kosovo by the country's president, Atifete Jahjaga, at the Embassy of Kosovo in London.[97][103] Ora, who was joined at the ceremony by her parents, and former British Prime Minister and his wife, Tony and Cherie Blair, stated she was "overwhelmed" by the honour and pledged to help the youth of Kosovo.[97]

She dated Calvin Harris from May 2013 to June 2014.[104] She broke up with Richard Hilfiger in July 2015 after a one-year relationship.[105]


On 23 March 2013, Ora performed as a special guest at Le Bal de la Rose du Rocher, an event organised by Karl Lagerfeld in Monte Carlo in aid of the Princess Grace Foundation.[106] On 1 June 2013, Ora performed at the "Chime for Change" charity concert at Twickenham Stadium, London, which raised funds and awareness for girls' and women's issues around the world.[107] In December 2013, along with other British artists, she filmed "No Place Like Home" campaign with UNICEF UK, in support of their appeal for the children affected by the Syrian conflict.[108] On 7 May 2014, Ora headlined the third annual “Gabrielle’s Gala” fundraiser at Old Billingsgate Market, London, with proceeds going to Cancer Research UK.[109]

On 15 November 2014, Ora joined the charity group Band Aid 30 along with other British and Irish pop acts, recording the latest version of the track "Do They Know It's Christmas?" at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London, to raise money for the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa.[110] On 14 November 2015, Ora performed during half-time at David Beckham's UNICEF charity "Match for Children" held at Old Trafford, Manchester.[111]

On 9 March 2016, she gave a speech on immigration and Syrian refugee crisis at the We Day UK event in London, organised by Free the Children.[112]


Main article: Rita Ora discography





Year Title Role Notes
2004 Spivs Rosanna
2013 Fast & Furious 6 Race Caller[60] Uncredited
2015 Fifty Shades of Grey Mia Grey
Southpaw Maria Escobar
2017 Wonderwell N/A Post-production
Fifty Shades Darker Mia Grey Post-production
2018 Fifty Shades Freed Post-production
Year Title Role Notes
2004 The Brief Jaclyn Livermore Episode: "Children"
Credited as Rita Sahatçiu Ora
2012 The X Factor Guest Judge Series 9 (London auditions)
2013 90210 Herself Episode: "Misery Loves Company"
2014 Christmas in Washington Herself
2015 The Voice UK Coach[113] Series 4
Empire Herself[114] Episode: "Who I Am"
The X Factor Judge Series 12
2016–17 America's Next Top Model Host / Judge Cycle 23

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2012 MOBO Awards Best Newcomer Herself Won [115][116]
Best Female Act Nominated
Best Album Ora Nominated
Best Video "R.I.P." Nominated
MTV Europe Music Awards Best New Act Herself Nominated [117]
Best Push Act Nominated
Best UK & Ireland Act Nominated
UK Music Video Awards Best UK Urban Video "R.I.P." Nominated [118]
Urban Music Awards Artist of the Year Herself Won [119][120]
MP3 Music Awards Best Newcomer "Hot Right Now" Won [121]
2013 Brit Awards British Breakthrough Act Herself Nominated [122]
British Single of the Year "R.I.P." Nominated
"Hot Right Now" Nominated
UK Kids' Choice Awards Favourite UK Female Artist Herself Nominated [123]
Glamour Awards UK Solo Artist Herself Won [124][125]
Pandora Breakthrough Nominated
BET Awards Best International Act: UK Herself Nominated [126]
MOBO Awards Best Female Act Herself Nominated [127]
Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards Musician of the Year Herself Won [128]
MTV Europe Music Awards Best Look Herself Nominated [129]
Best World Stage Nominated
2014 BET Awards Best International Act: UK Herself Nominated [130]
Young Hollywood Awards Breakout Music Artist Herself Nominated [131]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Music: Breakout Artist Herself Nominated [132]
BBC Radio 1's Teen Awards Best British Solo Artist Herself Nominated [133]
MOBO Awards Best Female Act Herself Nominated [134]
MTV Europe Music Awards Best Look Herself Nominated [135]
Best Video "Black Widow" Nominated
2015 Black Reel Awards Best Original Song "Grateful" Nominated [136]
Brit Awards British Video "I Will Never Let You Down" Nominated [137]
Billboard Music Awards Top Rap Song "Black Widow" Nominated [138]
Silver Clef Awards Best Female Artist Herself Won [139]
Glamour Awards TV Personality Won [140]
MTV Europe Music Awards Best Look Nominated [141]
Bambi Awards Music – International Herself Won [142]
2016 Glamour Awards British Solo Artist Herself Nominated [143]
TV Personality Herself Nominated



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