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Rita Ora describes growing up as a refugee in the UK and how music helped her cope


‘I felt like an outsider’: Rita Ora reflects on growing up as a refugee in the UK after fleeing Kosovo with her family and how music helped her cope


Rita Ora has described what it was like to grow up as a refugee in the UK as she admitted she often felt like an ‘outsider’ during her childhood. 

The singer, 31, left Kosovo because of the persecution of Albanians initiated with the disintegration of Yugoslavia and moved to England in 1991, with Rita growing up in Notting Hill and later attending performing arts school Sylvia Young. 

Starring in a striking cover shoot for ELLE Spain, Rita reflected on her upbringing and the difficulties she faced because of her background and how she used music to cope with growing up without a ‘place of belonging’.  

'Outsider': Rita Ora has described what it was like to grow up as a refugee in the UK as she admitted she often felt like an 'outsider' during her childhood in Elle Spain

‘Outsider’: Rita Ora has described what it was like to grow up as a refugee in the UK as she admitted she often felt like an ‘outsider’ during her childhood in Elle Spain

Rita was born in Pristina to her Albanian parents, Vera, a psychiatrist and her father Besnik, a pub owner having previously studied economics. 

As the family adapted to life in the U.K, the songstress talked openly about being a refugee as she said:  ‘I think the real challenge was that I felt like an outsider, and that I didn’t have a place of belonging. 

‘Yes, that was the hardest thing for me, but, as I’ve emphasised before, music helped me greatly to cope with those feelings. 

Escape: The singer, 31, left Kosovo because of the persecution of Albanians initiated with the disintegration of Yugoslavia and moved to England as a baby

Escape: The singer, 31, left Kosovo because of the persecution of Albanians initiated with the disintegration of Yugoslavia and moved to England as a baby

Talented: She told ELLE it was a struggle growing up without a 'place of belonging'

Talented: She told ELLE it was a struggle growing up without a ‘place of belonging’

‘Whether it was listening or acting, it was my way of being connected to the world. That’s the ultimate power of music: it allows us to make connections with people we wouldn’t otherwise have, it gives us a sense of community and the feeling that we’re not alone on this planet.’

Rita emphasised her pride at her heritage, saying while London was her home Kosovo is ‘still very close to my heart’. 

She added: ‘For the rest of my life I will feel an infinite passion for refugees because I am one and always will be.’

Rita went on to say that she was grateful for the sacrifices her parents had made to give her and her siblings a better life.

The touching interview comes after Rita reflected on her relationship with beau Taika Waititi as she shared a gushing Valentine’s Day post on Monday.

The singer, 31, thanked the director, 46, for ‘being cool’ as she posted a previously unseen throwback of the pair in 2018 – three years before their romance began.

Further snaps included the pair enjoying a joint glam session, Taika proudly snapping Rita on the red carpet and pointing a hairdryer at her during a photoshoot.

Taika also shared his own tribute to Rita, with the caption: ‘First photo the night we met four years ago. We’ve been mates ever since. Then a year ago we decided to “complicate” things but it just got easier. Happy Valentines Day to my bestie   

Rita captioned her post: ‘Us. 4 years ago. To now. thanks for being cool. And entertaining me forevs..Happy Valentine’s Day bestie.’

Read the full interview in Spanish Elle – out now.  

Romance: The touching interview comes after Rita reflected on her relationship with beau Taika Waititi on Monday  (pictured 2018 at their first meeting)

Romance: The touching interview comes after Rita reflected on her relationship with beau Taika Waititi on Monday  (pictured 2018 at their first meeting)

Fun: She thanked the director, 46, for 'being cool' as she posted a previously unseen throwback of the pair in 2018 - three years before their romance began

Fun: She thanked the director, 46, for ‘being cool’ as she posted a previously unseen throwback of the pair in 2018 – three years before their romance began

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