In the age of the selfie, Rita Ora is a crown princess. Almost four million people on Twitter and nearly 2.5 million on Instagram follow the bleached blond It girl for dispatches from her It life. And at 23, the British pop siren, actress (she’ll play the adopted sister of S&M master Christian Grey in Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Fifty Shades of Grey next February), and dynamo in Jay-Z’s Roc Nation stable is certainly sitting pretty lately—she’s fronted campaigns for DKNY and Rimmel London, walked for Jeremy Scott’s first outing with Moschino, and this month, she’ll debut a capsule collection with Adidas Originals. Ora’s signature look—platinum hair, dark eyebrows, and vibrant, often red lips—is the punctuation point on her typically exuberant, vintage-inspired style. Interview‘s special beauty correspondent Harry Brant rang up Ora in June to talk shop.
HARRY BRANT: Hi. How are you?
RITA ORA: I’m good. I’m in L.A., chillin’ by the pool with a white husky.
BRANT: It’s such a healthy lifestyle in L.A.
ORA: Oh, I wish … I’m not thinking very healthy.
BRANT: [laughs] I went on your Instagram and I noticed that every time you post a photo of yourself, a beauty shot or a close-up of your face, you get way more likes, comments, and responses, which is really interesting.
ORA: Compared to my other photos? I’ve never really noticed that, actually.
BRANT: Obviously, the reason why people follow you is that they want to see pictures of you. What’s your relationship like with social media and your followers?
ORA: I love sharing my life with my followers. Hopefully, they are following me because they genuinely want to know me. It’s a way to connect with fans that wasn’t available just a few years ago.
BRANT: But I think Instagram is also something that encourages people to just go crazy with Photoshop, to manipulate themselves through editing, and make the perception of their beauty completely different from its reality.
ORA: It’s hard, though, because you’re working with a certain bone structure. [laughs] Obviously, you’ve just got to do what works for your face and what makes you feel confident and beautiful. Photoshop is … I don’t know. Girls have always wanted to be pretty, even in Egyptian times. Cleopatra wore all that eyeliner, you know. Then you have some people who don’t realize that they’re beautiful.
BRANT: That’s so much more endearing. I’ve always thought that a lot of great beauties have amazing personalities, and it’s because they never really blossomed into their beauty in their youth. How has your beauty look and relationship with your image evolved throughout your career?
ORA: I think everything evolves naturally in life. It’s not limited to beauty or music. The more experience you get, the more you find out about yourself. Everything becomes more and more an expression of the real you. I can play different characters. Sometimes I feel tomboy or glam or playful. When you perform, you can convey emotions differently, and your look can reflect each of those emotions.
BRANT: Is there any particular look you’re obsessed with right now?
ORA: I will always love red lips. I have to follow you on Instagram right now. What’s your name on Instagram?
ORA: Hey, boo, you have some amazing photos.
BRANT: Sometimes I feel that, after you’ve seen so many Photoshopped images, especially if you’ve seen yourself highly Photoshopped—as I’m sure you have, and I have too—you’re like, “Wait, I know that’s not 100 percent what I look like, but I’m not complaining.” [laughs]
ORA: Sometimes I get Photoshopped, but it’s more about little things like skin. They can do anything. They can make your legs longer or give you a bigger head. But in terms of plastic surgery, I don’t think that’s for me. I’m too much of a hypochondriac.
BRANT: I would be too worried that the result would be horrific.
ORA: It works for some people, but I’m not ready for that yet. Maybe I’ll do it later on down the line. But for now, I’m taking a leaf out of J.Lo’s book. She has never had any plastic surgery. She wakes up at, like, 5 a.m. every day and goes to the gym and exercises, and she never smokes or drinks. I’m obsessed.
BRANT: Do you know Naomi Campbell?
ORA: I love Naomi.
BRANT: She’s basically my godmom. I love her so much. Her body regimen and workouts are insane. She keeps it so strict with her diet. She’s like a finely tuned machine. She does it like it’s her job, because it is. I actually quite admire that level of commitment to self-perfection. When you’re doing things that are actually healthy for you, you’re improving the texture of your skin, you’re working on your body; it makes you healthier, especially in your mind.
ORA: It makes me really happy as well. If I do a class in the morning, I’m happy the whole day. I try to do one thing a day that makes me proud of myself.
BRANT: That’s a really good rule to have. That’s great for self-esteem. It’s so funny how so many people that are considered attractive aren’t physically attractive at all—how confidence and self-perception have so much to do with just how other people perceive you. For me, the greatest models and actresses—well, I’ve noticed especially with models—are actually picked because they’re just so funny and so great to be around and beautiful. Who are your biggest beauty inspirations?
ORA: I love Kate Moss—she’s a classic and confident beauty. She is the most fun person in the world. You would think that somebody who has been so successful for that long would be like, “Don’t touch me, don’t look at me, don’t breathe on me.” But she acts the same with everyone. We went to see Prince perform, and she had knitted him a purple scarf. It was the sweetest thing.