Rita Ora opens up about her career struggles in honest interview

It's not all been smooth sailing for the Hot Right Now singer

Rita Ora
(Image credit: Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty)

Rita Ora shot to fame when she was 18 and signed to Jay Z's record label Roc Nation. 

The Hot Right Now hitmaker has been in the entertainment business for over one decade, and has high hopes to be a "timeless pop star" with longevity, but her journey has not been without its struggles. 

The 32-year-old singer bravely opened up about the highs and lows of her career, and the music business. 

Speaking on Steven Bartlett's podcast Diary of a CEO, she shared: "I went from sharing a room with my sister, to having an apartment in Brooklyn overnight.

"I was a naive young dreamer, and that's exactly what you should be at that age. When I was 18 I would do anything to be at that level, and everything that was given to me I was like 'Let's go', and I thought they must be right because they're huge superstars."

"Now I'm at the point where I wishI knew that, but that comes with age. I'm not perfect, I've always been super honest with my fans.

"But there was a sense I needed to overwork to prove myself. I don't think that feeling of being satisfied will ever happen. I'm always like 'Now what? What's next?'

"[Work] is definitely one of my reasons of purpose, which is a blessing and a curse, because obviously things don't always work out it ends up crumbling more of you than it needed to.

Rita's hard work ethic and determination took its toll on her, especially in her younger years. 

She continued: "In my 20s, everything shot to number one. I was living my dream, going out with my band, wasn't really checking in with my friends and family, and I lost touch a little bit.

"My twenties felt alone, so I was looking for things in the wrong places, with love and people told me it wouldn't be good for me but I wouldn't listen. I was eating really badly, I was drinking , my dad was so so on board with helping me - but I grew up in a pub and there was always drinks and parties, and I was jumping on the bar and singing songs, so drinking was such a normal thing in my family, and it was fun. It was a fun time for me in my twenties. But when I'd wake up it would be silent and it wouldn't feel nice. I've learnt to understand not everyone figures it out in their twenties."

It's safe to say Rita put a lot of pressure on herself to be liked, which she alluded to in her interview.  She added: "I wanted people to love me as a person and back me because they liked me, and then came the music and TV. It was important for people to feel they know me, because if everything goes bad, at least people will love me as a human, which is a bit of an insecurity. But with music and entertainment your job is to be present for these people and take them out of their misery, so sometimes it's not about your misery and what you're going through."

In hindsight, Rita would tell her younger self not to believe what everyone promises, and to stay true to herself, which she has done. 

Asked the advice she wish her younger self knew, she mused: "Don't believe all the promises that people tell you. Other than believing in the promises, you should work on what your craft is to make sure you can stand alone and not need anybody else to stand up. May not mean a number one hit record, but at least you have your DNA, but it can really help you in the longevity of your career."

However, things hit a crescendo for Rita emotionally and mentally in what she has coined her "quarter-life crisis", when she started to battle with anxiety and panic attacks. 

She said: "Quarter life crisis is that a thing? When I was 25 it was a really weird time for me, it was my second album was coming out-ish. I was working with the Prince's Trust, and on one occasion, I was at the Royal Albert Hall wearing a blue outfit, and I remember Tom Hardy was in the line waiting to meet our now King, and I went into that bathroom and my hands were tingling, and I was having the craziest panic attack. I've met our King before, I was performing that day, but I don't know what happened. I felt sick, but I got out and stood in that line, and I met King Charles, but I was not there.  If you looked at that photograph, you wouldn't even know. 

"I was 25, but ever since then I was petrified of that feeling, but through therapy I have learnt you get panic attacks through not wanting to get a panic attack, and that's how you drive your panic attacks. it just hit me, the pressure of being famous, and meeting really famous people, and feeling like I'm not good enough to be there it just built up on me."

Rita has hinted she has suffered with "Imposter Syndrome", and despite her successful career, she still fears everything will be snatched out of her hands. 

Rita - who married husband Taika Waititi in secret - said: " never really understood when people said 'I have the panics' or 'I have anxiety', but then it happened, and it was the fear of losing the ones I love that put me into panic. I like structure, I like routine, I like trying to resolve situations, security I was never obsessed with. I was obsessed with I had a routine. I am always in fear of losing everything I've got, and I don't think that will ever go away."

"It is something I have nightmares about, because it is not just about me. Ever since I started, I like to think, on the majority of people that don't necessarily get the shot that I got coming from where I come from and being able to live with my dream. If I didn't move to the UK I don't know what I would be doing. So, I was always really vocal about my gratitude."

But the powerhouse has alluded to putting on a brave face.

Asked if she is confident, Rita replied: "I'm an autopilot confident, you won't ever see my face feeling a sense of doubt or insecurity, if I am having to show up as Rita Ora, but I am always having it going on in my mind. I have the doubts constantly in my mind 'Am I good enough?'"

Rita has made a huge U-turn and learnt a lot numerous coping mechanisms through therapy, and while she may overthink, she is equipped with the necessary tools to handle her anxiety.

She emphasised: "Therapy has been a great thing I have discovered. Since I was 26 I started, and my mum was adamant on us doing therapy, but you have to find it yourself, and I did, and that really helps.  But work is something I really focus and distract myself with.

"I do everything in my power to keep my brain and heart calm.  My thoughts are always going to be there, but I am getting really good at controlling where they live, which is what therapy has helped me do. A lot of meditating and incense.  I don't journal as much, but I did for this latest album, so I do more of voicenotes, working out, meditating and eating well."

A teary Rita shared: "I was broken a couple of times, but it comes with what I do, it's bitter sweet."

Maisie Bovingdon

Maisie is a writer and editor, covering Royal News, Showbiz, Lifestyle content, as well as Shopping Writing and E-Commerce, for print and digital publications, including Marie Claire, Hello!, Fabulous, Mail Online and Yahoo!.