She’s a bad gal for a reason!
There’s no denying that Rihanna is making major moves in the beauty and fashion industry. From starting a makeup movement (have you heard of The Fenty Effect?!) to pushing the style boundaries on and off the red carpet, she’s constantly taking things to the next level—and making it look easy, too.
But despite being a boss ass bitch, setting trends and breaking glass ceilings, fans might be delighted to know that the 31-year-old star is refreshingly down-to-earth.
Priscilla Ono, the Fenty Beauty Global Makeup Artist and RiRi’s go-to for all things glam, has the receipts!
The celebrity MUA spoke to E! News about all things beauty, including what it’s been like working with the Ocean’s 8 actress and her eponymous brand. Ono also shared the ridiculously insane places she’s done Rihanna’s makeup, why we’ll never see the star wear the same beauty look and more.
Read our interview with the celebrated makeup artist, below!
E! News: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned working with Rihanna and being the Fenty Beauty Global Makeup Artist?
Priscilla Ono: Number one thing is patience. I see all of this stuff way before it launches, so I learn a lot of patience, because I want to scream how good everything is. And two, being quick. You have to come to terms with it. For Crop Over, that we did in Barbados, I had 30 minutes to do her makeup look. She was walking out the door as I’m starting makeup. So, I’ve learned how to be efficient and do it well without having time. Sometimes, that’s how life is.
E! News: Where is the wildest place you’ve done her makeup that most people wouldn’t expect to hear?
PO: I did my first full glam on a private jet with her. This was a two-hour glam session on a private jet! You know, you’re not going to have your most comfortable situations, but you always have to make it your best. A lot of people don’t know that about her–they think she’s this big celebrity and she always gets the red carpet pulled out for her, and she does things in big venues, but we shoot so many things in small spaces with hardly any room. It’s not the most comfortable, but you have to get it done. And she always does it with a smile on her face. She’s never jaded or ever complains. She’s happy, it doesn’t matter where we’re at.
E! News: Has there been a situation where the glam situation wasn’t comfortable but y’all made it work?
PO: The worst one for us, as a team, was in Cuba. We had almost nothing because everything got taken away on our way into the airport. We were filming a movie out there with Childish Gambino [Donald Glover] for Guava Island. Literally, we had nothing. We were in the scorching heat, it was brutal. And Rihanna was so happy, she was just having a great time, not complaining. I don’t know not one other celebrity or artist that would be that happy with so little. If she can be that way, we can all be that way.
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Beautycon
E! News: That’s so crazy! After sharing that tidbit, what is something Rihanna’s fans would also be surprised about?
PO: Her whole bag is pure testers [of Fenty Beauty products]. She has almost nothing in final, even now. She still has old testers from back in the day that she just won’t give up. That’s one thing about her, too, she’s not a wasteful person. And I’ll tell her, ‘Do you want a new one?’ And she’s like, ‘I’ll wait.”https://www.eonline.com/”
E! News: Speaking of her brand, Rihanna seems like one of the few celebrities who is genuinely excited about makeup and creating products.
PO: She wouldn’t do it if she wasn’t having fun. She always has fun. Every time we do glam, it’s fun. There’s never a dull moment. It’s always an experience. Our glam sessions take a very long time, it’s never less than four or five hours. Because we have music, we get food and we take breaks, and we laugh and we tell stories and jokes. It’s a good time, and that’s why I think that she’s so successful because she actually loves what she does. She’s having a great time when she’s doing it, and you can just tell. That’s why it comes off so authentic.
E! News: When you do her makeup, is it a collaborative process or does she let you have free rein?
PO: Honestly, it varies. It’s never the same thing twice, though. But it’s always a variation depending on her mood. Sometimes, she actually knows exactly what she wants. Then, sometimes, she’s like, ‘I don’t know… Do whatever you want, whatever you feel like.’ Sometimes, we’re collaborating. She’s like, ‘Ooh, add this… add that.’ It really depends on her mood and the vibe. Either way, it’s never awkward or weird. It’s always fun and pure love. We just do it ’cause we love it. I think that’s the great relationship that we have. At the end of the day, it’s gonna come out great.
John Shearer/Getty Images
E! News: Is there a special way she likes getting her makeup done or any kind of rituals she does? I know you mentioned there’s music blasting in the background, food involved and storytelling…
PO: She likes to have her skin done first, because she likes to get the vibe and to see how it’s going to end up looking. So it’s always skin, then her eyes. When it comes to looks, there’s no particular pattern. Usually, depending on what the event is, like if it’s a major event, like the Met Gala or the British Fashion Awards, we’ll meet the night before and we’ll be swatching, I’ll have photos and references. Sometimes, she’ll make me do a little test on her and we’ll photograph it. Sometimes, I’ll go in and she’ll ask me to just do something good. The main point, is don’t do the same thing. She doesn’t want the same look twice, she wants something new every single time. She just wants to try new things, which is a lot of fun.
E! News: On the topic of the Met Gala and British Fashion Awards, what is your favorite red carpet to do with Rihanna and why?
PO: Probably the Met Gala. She said she’s gonna go for sure and it’s on my calendar this year. Unless something happens, but she confirmed when she did her Vogue interview with Anna Wintour. That one’s always a big one because it’s the night that you can have fun. You can have fun but in a tasteful, artistic way. It takes a lot of preparation, and it gets everyone excited. It’s something so special that you just feel so grateful to do it. Everyone has such great respect for each other, artistic-wise, that it’s a lot of fun to come together. The last one that we did, when she did the Pope hat, John Galliano was there with us the night before. He was talking to me about makeup looks, and it was such an out-of-body experience for me. I was like, ‘Holy s–t! John Galliano is right here!’ It was bizarre in a great way. For me, that’s always the most exciting event. And it’s not nerve-wracking for Rihanna, there’s no stress.
E! News: Lastly, how has it been working with a brand and celebrity that celebrates creativity, individuality and diversity?
PO: She doesn’t ever put a label on… this person has to look a certain way to do this job. It’s more, who is the best at this job. For me, it’s amazing and I feel it’s also the universe that organically brought me here. Because I’ve always been this way, I’ve always worked on all skin tones, I’ve never said no, I always make it work. Working with a team that’s diverse from the bat, for me, it’s meant to be. It’s fate. I’m so happy and so proud that we were one of the first to really, really go in with launching 40 foundations.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.