“It’s powerful to break those doors”

Rihanna has explained her decision to agree to perform at the Super Bowl after infamously turning previous offers from the NFL down.

The star rejected the organisation’s approach for her to be the Halftime Show performer in 2018. That move was made in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who was shut out of the league after taking a knee to protest police brutality during the US national anthem at games.

In a new interview with British Vogue, Rihanna acknowledged there were still issues with the system and society. “There’s still a lot of mending to be done in my eyes,” she said. “But it’s powerful to break those doors and have representation at such a high, high level and a consistent level.”

The singer pointed to last year’s performance from Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar, coupled with hers this year. “Two Super Bowls back-to-back representing the urban community, globally,” she said. “It is powerful. It sends a really strong message.”

Rihanna performs live at the 2023 Super Bowl halftime show
Rihanna performs live. CREDIT: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

She continued to explain that becoming a mother had also changed her perspective in more ways than one. “Raising a young Black man is one of the scariest responsibilities in life,” she said. “You’re like, ‘What am I leaving my kids to? This is the planet they’re gonna be living on?’ All of those things really start to hit differently.”

Rihanna noted that giving birth had given her a sense that “nothing is impossible”: “It’s this knowing that you can do anything, even things that seem the craziest, like, ‘I’m going to say yes to the Super Bowl in the middle of postpartum?’ What the heck am I thinking? But you’re geeked on a challenge like that because you know what your body just did.”

The star’s Super Bowl performance on Sunday (February 12) was the second-most-watched halftime show of all time, averaging 118.7million viewers. Katy Perry’s 2015 performance still holds the record with an average of 121million viewers.

The set also featured a tribute to late fashion icon André Leon Talley, the former editor-at-large of Vogue. At the end of her set, Rihanna donned a red sleeping bag coat by Alaïa – an apparent homage to Talley, whose favourite Norma Kamali coat was in the same style and colour.

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