Pop star Rihanna was first discovered as a teen, when American record producer Evan Rogers was visiting her home country of Barbados. After hearing her sing, Rogers helped her record a demo, which eventually made its way to Jay-Z.
Rihanna, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, flew to New York to audition in front of Jay-Z. “She was fierce, like Kobe Bryant,” he recalls in an interview with Rolling Stone. “I knew she was a star.”
The 31-year-old music icon has won nine Grammy awards so far. Her makeup line, Fenty Beauty, generated a reported $72 million in sales in just its first full month in 2017 and nearly $562 million in sales by the end of 2018. She’s launching a luxury fashion label, also called Fenty, in May 2019.
Though she has made millions of dollars, Rihanna doesn’t plan on slowing down. “I never thought I’d make this much money, so a number is not going to stop me from working,” she tells T: The New York Times Style Magazine.
Now “I’m working out of what I love to do, what I’m passionate about,” she says.
Lady Gaga has a similar mindset. Pursuing a career as a pop star has never been about the money, she told the Financial Times in 2011: “The beauty for me about being an artist is that the dream will never die, because I’m not obsessed with material things and don’t care about the money … but only the love of my fans, so for me it’s about how much more devoted, how much better an artist can I become.”
In short, she said, “it’s honestly true that money means nothing to me.”
Money may not be driving her career, or Lady Gaga’s, but profit is still “happening along the way,” Rihanna tells T Magazine. And it has opened up opportunities: “The money means that I can take care of my family. The money means that I can facilitate the businesses that I want to.”
It also means that “I can create jobs for other people. My money is not for me; it’s always the thought that I can help someone else,” says Rihanna. She founded the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012 to help improve the quality of education and health care for children in impoverished communities.
“The world can really make you believe that the wrong things are priority, and it makes you really miss the core of life, what it means to be alive,” she continues. “It could literally be walking outside in the sun. That makes me happy.”
This article first appeared on CNBC https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/22/rihanna-i-never-thought-id-make-this-much-money.html?&qsearchterm=rihanna and is republished with its permission.