The most controversial moments of Rita Ora’s life

While most of us spent the summer of 2020 in a pandemic-induced lockdown, Rita Ora kept busy hanging out in Ibiza in a gold bikini and teasing brand new music. The British singer released her new single, “How To Be Lonely,” in March 2020, right when the UK was bracing for a shutdown — but there was so much more to come. In an Instagram photo, happily basking in the glow of the Spanish shores, Ora revealed, “When you know this is your last holiday before that ORA hits. Pshhhhhh,” which obviously sent fans into an absolute tizzy.

Ora isn’t a stranger to grabbing headlines and making fans’ heads spin. The singer has actually mastered the art of crafting controversy out of nothing. Even when she’s not trying, it seems like Ora can’t stay out of the tabloids — whether she’s releasing a contentious single or seemingly antagonizing the BeyHive. These are some of Rita Ora’s most controversial moments since she hit the scene in 2012 with her debut album. 

No, Rita Ora isn't 'Becky with the good hair'

In 2016, Beyonce’s surprise album Lemonade dropped the major bombshell that Jay-Z’s eyes had strayed with a woman referred to not-so-affectionately as “Becky with the good hair.” Of course, tabloid speculation about Becky’s real identity was almost instant, somehow dragging in pseudonym queen Nils Sjöberg (or Taylor Swift, as she’s commonly called) and Gwyneth Paltrow, the veritable patron saint of wildly expensive crystal-infused water bottles. Still, few celebs faced greater speculation than Rita Ora.

Rumors of an affair between Ora and Jay have been kicking around since she signed with his label Roc Nation in 2008. According to NME, she’s always shut them down, but the star didn’t do herself any favors when she posted a Snapchat of herself wearing a “J” necklace and a lemon bra — a seeming nod to Lemonade – right at the height of the controversy. She also decided to wear the same red Gucci dress that Beyonce donned in the “Formation” music video and made an Instagram post about Ash Wednesday, a 1973 film largely about marital problems. Perhaps conspiracy theorists were just webbing together coincidences, or perhaps Ora just wanted some press, but she did set the record straight.

“Hey, all I want to say to that is, dude, if I were Becky with the good hair, wouldn’t I actually have to have good hair? Look at it. It’s all weave and extensions,” she told The Times. And there you have it.

Rita Ora feuded with reality TV royalty

Rob Kardashian is perhaps best known for having a televised train wreck of a relationship with Black Chyna or managing to score a Cheetah Girl. Most of us forget that the reality star actually dated Rita Ora — and no, that didn’t end well either. In fact, it launched a feud with the whole fam.

It all began when Ora and Rob split in 2012. Following the expected trajectory of most of Rob’s relationships, he took to social media to trash her and spark salacious rumors. In a now-deleted series of tweets, captured by the Daily Mail, Rob claimed that Ora cheated on him with “nearly 20 dudes.” The tweets were scrubbed after 30 minutes, but the sentiment lived on in Ora’s alleged interactions with Rob’s older sister Kim Kardashian. According to TMZ, Kim refused to sit near Ora at the MTV Video Music Awards and insisted producers swap her seat to one further away. The tabloids definitely didn’t let that one go, but apparently, it was all good for Ora, who let her thoughts about the breakup be known once and for all.

According to the Sunday Telegraph (via News.com.au), the star claimed she didn’t know that she was in an actual relationship. “I never mentally defined it as ‘boyfriend, girlfriend.’ When I split up with him, I said, ‘It’s because I’m never there, I don’t know how to do it.’ … He obviously felt that creating myths was the way forward.”

Is there a blackfish in the house?

Rita Ora went viral in 2020, and not for the right reasons. The star was accused of “blackfishing” — the act of posing as a Black person online — when a Twitter user discovered that her parents are actually both Albanian. This, of course, isn’t a secret. 

According to OK! News, she’s discussed how her family became refugees in London after fleeing Albania. Still, the tweet, which contained photos of Ora wearing box braids and an afro, exploded on the social network. It was retweeted more than 22,000 times, garnering over 100,000 likes. The tanned photos she regularly posts on Instagram certainly didn’t help either.

Ora didn’t seem to sweat the claims of cultural appropriation, no matter how widespread. While she didn’t explicitly comment, she did post a photo of herself laughing on Instagram with the caption, “Sometimes you just gota [sic] laugh.” Ora is hardly the first celebrity to be accused of such egregious online offenses. Most of the Kardashian-Jenner sisters, Ora’s one-time tabloid nemeses, have been called out at one point or another. The same thing goes for rapper Bhad Bhabie, who faced similar comments to Ora in regards to tanning and hairstyles.

Girls, girls, girls

Rita Ora’s 2018 single “Girls” was met with so much backlash that, according to Mirror, she considered it her toughest moment of the last couple of years. Per the Gay Times, the collaboration — which also features Charli XCX, Bebe Rexha, and Cardi B — was overwhelmingly accused of “making light of gay relationships.” This was especially apparent in the lyrics “red wine, I just wanna kiss girls,” which makes it seem like sexuality can be boiled down to alcohol consumption. Others believed that Ora was co-opting a culture she didn’t belong to. It wasn’t just fans either. Celebs, including Hayley Kiyoko and Kehlani, also slammed the song, according to EW.

Though those involved apologized, with Cardi B admitting she had “experiences with other women,” it turns out the track wasn’t actually controversial in its core. Ora just happened to “forget” that she never publicly came out. In an interview with the What’s The Tee podcast (via the AP), Ora revealed, “When it came out I think people looked at it, because they didn’t know about my experience, like I was using the culture … I never looked at it like that because I knew I’d experienced it. But I forgot that nobody else knew that.” The star also admitted that she was “very experimental” in her late teens and early 20s and aimed to make a song for “girls who may have been confused about who they are.”

Rita Ora sued her label

If Rita Ora ever actually did have her rumored (and clearly fake) affair with Jay-Z, that’s definitely over now because Becky filed official documents to divorce Jay’s label in 2015. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ora sued Roc Nation for violating California’s “seven-year rule.” In other words: the lawsuit claimed that her contract wasn’t enforceable since she signed it all the way back in 2008 at the age of 18.

Ora’s lawsuit alleged that the star had been “orphaned” by her team as Roc Nation shifted to sports management and other endeavors. There were allegedly so many personnel changes that by the time she filed the suit, the singer no longer had a relationship with anyone who worked at the company. The star claimed she was “self-funding her promotional television appearances, recording costs, and video projects” and got left behind when the company moved their distribution over to Universal rather than Sony, which led to minimal returns.

Somehow, tabloids made this even more controversial than it already was by roping in an alleged feud with Rihanna. The Sun claimed that Rihanna had a personal vendetta against the “Girls” singer and had “been using her power” (i.e., her close relationship with Jay) to sideline Ora. “This is the main reason the label’s execs have been uninterested in putting effort into promoting Rita,” a source claimed. According to The Sun, Ora settled the lawsuit some six months later after the company sued her for breach of contract.

Age isn't just a number

When Rita Ora was a teenager, she entered a highly controversial relationship. The secret was only unearthed years later when a forgotten interview was republished in the unauthorized biography Hot Right Now and excerpted in The Sun. In the interview, the singer revealed that her first relationship was with a 26-year-old man when she was 14 years old. A decade later, she questioned, “It’s child abuse, really, isn’t it?”

Despite her questioning — and the horrific illegality of adults dating minors — Ora shockingly claimed that she enjoyed her relationship and wasn’t forced. “I was almost obsessed with having a man feel like he wants me,” she admitted. “It made me feel great and I didn’t care what he did or how old he was. I wanted it. It’s crazy.”

Even today, she shares the same sentiment as her 14-year-old self. “I don’t want to say that I suffered it, because I wanted it,” she said. “I don’t want to say that I was forced to do it. I don’t want people to think I was abused as a kid but I was definitely more mature than I should have been at 14.”

If you wanna be Rita Ora's lover

In 2017, Rita Ora found herself in the kind of scandal that the British tabloids dream of. According to The Sun, the singer was supposedly targeted for a threesome with former Spice Girl, Mel B, and her ex-husband Stephen Belafonte — and that’s just one of the many shocking things that allegedly happened during Mel B’s marriage.

The tabloid claimed the couple set their sights on the X Factor judge during a 2014 “networking” dinner. The couple allegedly asked Ora to come home with them, and she was not about to slam her body down and wind it all around. Apparently, the ask freaked her out enough to “avoid being in their company from then onwards,” per the source.

The source also claimed that it was a no-go from the start. “She was there purely for work reasons, anything else was out of the question,” the source told The Sun. “So she made her excuses politely and went home.” Ora was also allegedly “aware” that the couple had a threesome with Lady Victoria and some other anonymous people in the past because Mel B’s sexcapades are apparently the talk of the town. Scary Spice always was the fun one!

Rita Ora vs. Iggy Azalea

Rita Ora seems to find herself in a lot of celebrity feuds, even if she doesn’t completely engage. Maybe we can chalk that up to the British tabloids and their fierce propensity to blow things completely out of proportion, or maybe Ora just likes a good public spat. Either way, of course, that also involves Iggy Azalea, whose history of feuds is so storied that she’s pretty much written the book — or freestyle — on it.

According to OK! News, it all allegedly went down when Azalea scoffed at Ora’s proposed “Lady Marmalade” remake. Seriously, how can you expect to top a song that features the unstoppable combined forces of Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, and Pink? It’s not possible, but Ora still thought: what if? Apparently, this thinking really bothered Iggy. In a now-deleted tweet, the “Fancy” rapper balked, “Please leave me out of the whole Lady Marmalade conversation. I have nothing to do with Rita’s ideas & agree it should be left alone. Thanks.”

To be clear, it’s not like Ora explicitly asked Azalea or the project even happened, but she did float the idea to The Sun, claiming it’d be fun to include hot artists like Miley Cyrus, Charlie XCX, and Iggy. The weird thing is that it’s not even a stretch. The pair have shared a stage before. If anything, the feud is a testament to how fast a compliment can turn into a slap in the face. 

Her messy breakup with Calvin Harris

Continuing with the theme of highly public feuds, Rita Ora’s breakup with Calvin Harris was prime tabloid fodder. It all came to a head around the 2014 Teen Choice Awards and crumbled into a bevvy of controversial accusations. Sound familiar? It’s because Harris more or less pulled the same thing with Taylor Swift years later.

According to The Sun, Harris and Ora dated after her non-relationship with Rob Kardashian imploded, but they called it quits after less than a year because Harris allegedly wanted more privacy. Where Ora goes, the paparazzi follows. She was reportedly blindsided by his breakup announcement and “left embarrassed,” but the damage didn’t end there.

The couple’s union resulted in the absolute banger “I Will Never Let You Down,” along with some other songs that Harris helped the singer write for her album. Unfortunately, Harris reportedly blocked Ora from performing these songs, particularly at the Teen Choice Awards in 2014. “I was supposed to perform, and for anyone that doesn’t understand how it works, he wrote and produced the song — I mean, he’s an incredible songwriter, never going to disregard his talents, he’s incredible,” Rita told Ryan Seacrest during a 2014 interview. “So [Harris] has to approve anything TV-wise, for anybody that doesn’t get it, and obviously, he owns the rights to it, and he didn’t approve the Teen Choice Awards.” 

The pair did eventually end their feud sometime before 2017, according to NME.

Rita Ora threatened to kill a man during a burglary

This wasn’t exactly a controversy on Rita Ora’s part, but it was extremely frightening for the star. In 2015, the singer made headlines when a man named Charaf El Moudden broke into the home she shared with her sister, Elena, and stole £200,000 (about $264,000 USD) worth of stuff.

According to the BBC, Elena woke up while Moudden was inside her bedroom, and Ora was the one to call the police. She reportedly woke up to her sister screaming and told the 999 operator that she’d kill one of the intruders. “What do you want me to do now,” she allegedly said during the call. “I will kill him.” This was so frightening for the singer that she reportedly “broke down in tears” after hearing the call played back in court, according to the BBC.

This wasn’t Moudden’s first offense, either, and the criminal has a clear obsession with celebrities. In the past, he tried to sell photos of a murdered Harry Potter actor’s corpse. He reportedly targeted Ora’s home because he knew the address. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to five years in prison, according to the Daily MailPoor Rita! No one can deny that this London chick is tough as nails.

Her accountant scammed her out of millions

In 2019, Rita Ora found herself caught up in a financial scandal when her Hollywood accountant, Andrew Munday, was jailed for fraud. According to the BBC, the accountant stole at least £3.35 million (about $4.4 million USD) from celebrity clients like Ora, Matt Dawson, and Martin Bayfield. Ora seemed like the one who lost out on the most, as Munday took nearly £2.4 million (about $2.9 million USD) from her company during his seven-year fraud campaign. The accountant then used that cash to live a lavish lifestyle and “buy houses, Star Wars memorabilia, and an executive lounge membership at Tottenham Hotspur.”

Munday’s record wasn’t totally squeaky clean from the get-go. The accountant reportedly once declared bankruptcy because of overwhelming gambling debt. His attorney blamed the fraud on a “severe gambling disorder.” In the end, he owned up to nine counts of fraud and was ultimately sentenced to five years and eight months in prison.

Rita Ora's coronavirus controversy

On the surface, it looks like Rita Ora is taking 2020’s coronavirus pandemic very seriously. In an interview with ExtraTV, the singer revealed that her mother is working with the NHS on the frontlines. “It’s insane. You know, I think every day for her, it’s like ‘Okay, well, you know it’s a risk’ .. I get a bit, you know, fearful,” she admitted. Like her mother, Ora wanted to find a way to give back, but it backfired.

According to Teen Vogue, Ora launched a line of coronavirus merchandise on March 19 as the pandemic was reaching new heights across the UK. This was a partnership with the United Nations Foundation and the World Health Organization, with all proceeds going to the COVID-19 response fund, but for many, it was too little too late. Teen Vogue criticized the merch as “unnecessary” while fans urged Ora to make a straight-up donation with her own money and questioned whether the shirts were made in sweatshops.

This came after the star was already in hot water over fleeing London and renting a home in the Cotswolds to ride out the lockdown. According to The Sun, the area has become a favorite among celebs for its multi-million-pound houses. Ora’s agent defended the move, claiming she’d been in the house working on an album since March 21. The UK’s lockdown was announced on March 23. Meanwhile, other celebs like Vanderpump Rules’ Scheana Shay refused to totally social distance altogether.

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