Rita Ora joins Fifty Shades of Grey cast: how she made the big time

From stage school to Jay-Z school, here's how she got there

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The Independent Online

As Rita Ora has confirmed her role as Christian Grey's sister Mia in the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey movie, here are five things you should know about the actress/singer who’s suddenly everywhere.

Practised jazz hands

The nearest thing Britain has to Rihanna (if a bit less edgy), Ora has the voice all right - confident, controlled and well-articulated. She was born in Kosovo in 1990, her Kosovar-Albanian parents fleeing the oncoming Balkan war when she was one, and moving to West London where she grew up. Her mother is a psychiatrist and her father runs The Queens Arms in Kilburn. A student of the Sylvia Young Theatre School, whose alumni include Amy Winehouse and Billie Piper, Ora started out as an actress. Her first role was aged 14, in the 2004 British crime film Spivs in which she played an Albanian child smuggled in the back of a lorry. With her long curly brown hair, she looks almost unrecognisable as the peroxide blonde, sharp eyebrowed pop star of today.

So hot right now

The 23-year-old has collaborated with numerous stars including Craig David, Tine Tempah, will.i.am, J. Cole and DJ Fresh, and producers such as Chase & Status, The-Dream, Major Lazer, The Runners, Diplo, The Invisible Men and Stargate. Her first music release was a guest appearance on Craig David’s Awkward in 2007, then in 2009 she appeared on Jay-Z’s video for Young Forever. It wasn’t until three years later that she released her debut single RIP, featuring Tinie Tempah – and it was a BRIT-nominated No 1 hit.

No dirt on her shoulder

Ora is signed to Jay-Z’s record label Roc Nation, also home to J.Cole and Calvin Harris. Seeing that she’d be an excellent fit for the label, her manager contacted Roc Nation in 2009 and the then 19-year-old flew out to New York to meet Jay-Z who signed her within 48 hours of her arrival. Four years later she released her chart topping, platinum-selling, debut album. Add to that two BRIT nominations, a MOBO award, MTV Music Award nominations and various others, and her audition to be the UK’s Eurovision contestant back in 2009 is history.

More famous chums

Aside from having a champion in label boss Jay-Z, she also has a fan in Coldplay’s Chris Martin. Ora was picked as the support for the stadium rock band on their Mylo Xyloto tour in 2011. After their final show on the tour, they went round to Martin’s house where Ora played him her songs and the singer said which he preferred, while helping her to pick the track order of her debut album.

Raking it in

She has a number of business ventures under her belt. Rumour has it that she’s creating a new line for Adidas which would see her join the likes of David Beckham and Stella McCartney. Her make-up collection for Rimmel hits the shelves in February, while she’s been in discussion with Karl Lagerfeld in Paris. In July she took over from Cara Delevingne as the new face of DKNY. And it’s said that she and the model are joining forces to design a clothing line for Topshop.