On the Road… with Rita Ora

The 2022 Pirelli Calendar aims to capture the atmosphere for a performer on tour – for multi-talented artist Rita Ora, the globe-trotting life is what keeps her “alive”

Ebullient and joyful, Rita Ora loves to be “a bit eventful”, so the British singer, songwriter and actress had a blast stopping traffic for her literally on-the-road photo shoot with Bryan Adams. With her blonde hair slicked back, in sky-high white stilettos and a glamorous vintage YSL dress, Ora lounged on two car seats placed in the middle of the street outside Hollywood’s famous Chateau Marmont as the shoot crew directed traffic and passing motorists slowed to stare. “I loved it,” the artist said after the shoot wrapped. “It was just unbelievable to sit down and just be a badass like, hey… I just bought the whole of Sunset Strip! That’s what it felt like.”

Ora, 30, was born in Kosovo (then part of Yugoslavia) to Albanian parents but moved to London with her family as refugees when she was a baby. She started singing as a child and signed her first recording deal as a teenager. Her 2012 first studio album, Ora, debuted at number one in the UK, her second album Phoenix came out in 2018 and she’s currently working on a third album. As well as music, Ora has acted in television series and movies (including the Fifty Shades films), judged the UK version of The Masked Singer, hosted America’s Next Top Model, and appeared as a coach on The Voice Australia. She reflects on the Pirelli shoot, being a “360-degree artist” and her excitement about the future.

How did the shoot go?
Today was amazing. It was a dream of mine to shoot with Bryan. I find him so talented and of course… we’re at this iconic venue with all the history that happened at the Chateau, and being on Sunset Strip, and doing a photo shoot on the road with all the cars kind of stopping, it was a very eventful day. I like to be a bit eventful, so I had a good time!

What does it mean to you to be part of the Pirelli Calendar
I’ve grown up looking at this Calendar as inspiration, motivation, and it’s so cool that it’s musicians this issue. The line-up is phenomenal so I’m very honoured to be part of it.

What’s your relationship with Los Angeles?
Me and Los Angeles have a love/hate relationship. All of my big deals happened here in LA… and my first demo was recorded here. I have a lot of memories in LA, but it gets a bit lonely for me because all my friends and family are in London.

Your life is divided between stage and screen and it’s all about movement. Can you talk about that?
I love doing a lot of things… music is my single sole passion but I love doing TV, I love doing film, I like being a creative, you know. As a 360-degree artist I think it’s very important to show your creativity in all ways, shapes and forms, and doing fashion and doing film and music for me is just another sort of outlet so it’s fascinating to see how excited I get… by doing different aspects of entertainment.

Do you have a favourite memory of being on the road?
My favourite memory on the road would probably be being on tour, on the tour bus, having drinks on the bus, because you know what they say, what happens on the tour bus stays on the tour bus.

Tell us about the shoot with Bryan.
Well, the shots were fantastic. They were two very different girls [for the two settings]. I think the creative team was fantastic… they really made it work beautifully and the wet hair for me was always something I love doing because it’s so effortless, it’s so sexy, it’s super chic, and we had a really cool chain-mail dress by Jeremy Scott and [for the first shot] they just threw me in the bath! It was a dry bath and it was the easiest shoot. I was just lying down and throwing water around, it was awesome.

The shot on the road at the entrance just off Sunset Strip… I loved it… I had this incredible outfit on, the one I’m wearing, YSL vintage, and it was just unbelievable to sit down and just be a badass like, hey… I just bought the whole of Sunset Strip! That’s what it felt like.

What’s your relationship with photography?
My relationship with photography is very special, you know, for me it’s all about a moment in time, it’s about keeping a memory, and I think Bryan Adams is fantastic at doing that. He really captures the essence and the character of who he’s shooting. I’ve always wanted to work with him so I’m very happy we finally got to create together for the most iconic Calendar ever.

How do you experience new places and cultures and does travelling influence your creativity?
My job is really cool, I get to travel the world and I think for me travelling is what keeps me alive… my experiences while travelling [are] truly unbelievable. I love what I do and I’m very grateful. I count my blessings every day. I get to travel the world, perform to people from all over the globe. I get very inspired by the culture, the fashion, the religion, the spirituality. I think it all goes hand-in-hand, and just getting to know people… I’m a very people person, so I love that.

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience on the road?
Well, I think my experience is pretty special. I’ve loved every moment of what I do. I think I’ve got so much more to do. I’m very excited for the future. I think this Calendar is really iconic and all the musicians involved are truly inspirations of mine, especially Iggy Pop, and so, you know, I’m happy. I’m very happy to see what the future brings, new music, new tour, and let’s go!