Article hero image

Rita Ora Is a Born Hustler. Just Like Her Immigrant Parents.

Wealthsimple makes powerful financial tools to help you grow and manage your money. Learn more

Wealthsimple is a whole new kind of investing service. This is the latest installment of our recurring series “Money Diaries” where we ask interesting people to open up about the role money has played in their lives.

The work really never ended for my family. We just had this kind of hunger in us since I can remember. And being a hustler, a go-getter — it starts from your background and how you were raised. And that’s where I get it. Working is the way I kind of deal with things. In a funny way, working is how I define success. Hard work actually makes me feel good. I can go to bed at night if I’ve worked really hard that day. It’s my way of therapy.

Get the best stories from our magazine every month

Sign up for our email newsletter

My parents moved us to London from Albania when I was one. My mom learned a whole new language — she learned English, studied to be a psychiatrist, and got a job working for the National Health Service. She still works there — last night she was on call all night, for about twelve hours. My dad — he runs pubs. I saw how hard my parents worked when I was growing up, and I wanted to make a better life for my family and myself.

My parents never forced anything onto me, my sister or my brother. But once we showed an interest they were always supportive of us making career choices. And when I was growing up, I had this idea of what I wanted to be. I just didn’t know how to do it. My mom, who’s a bit of a dreamer like me, said, “Okay, we’ll take you to classes.” And so I kind of quit school at sixteen and really just committed to this one thing: singing. Which is a financial commitment, and a commitment to a different path in life.

I like to have a plan. I really want to have a big family and live in the countryside and have loads of kids and feed my ducks. Ducks!

I remember going to the Glastonbury Festival for the first time, just to see it. I was a backpacker, just sitting in the mud with my little tent. I loved it. And then, later, it ended up being one of my first major performances — on the main stage at the Glastonbury Festival, the Pyramid Stage. I was like, “Wow, my life is changing.” And I remember thinking, “I want it to stay that way.” I had the same feeling when I performed at the Oscars. It was just a world I never thought I’d step into. I remember being on the stage and just stopping to think: “OK, this is insane.”.

Recommended for you

  • Friends With Money: Steve Aoki

    Money Diaries

  • Roxane Gay on Financial Independence: 'The Most Important Thing a Woman Can Do for Herself'

    Money Diaries

  • Jon Hamm Would Like to Buy a Time Machine

    Money Diaries

  • How Canada’s Greatest Poker Player Learned He Wasn’t Lucky

    Money Diaries

But you know what’s funny? It was a smaller moment that ended up feeling more dramatic to me. It was a few years ago. I remember saying to my friends, “Let’s go to this pub.” And we went. And I genuinely couldn't sit in there and have a pint without people coming up to me. And I found it really kind of shocking. I grew up in pub environments — like I said, my dad ran a pub. For me being in a pub is like being in my living room. My friends had to say to me, “Rita, you can't. It's hard for you to do this now. You understand that, right?” And I guess I didn’t until that moment.

I know I’m like young to say this at 26, but I always think about the future, the long haul. I like to have a plan. I really want to have a big family and live in the countryside and have loads of kids and feed my ducks. Ducks! I have a few friends who live in the country — some in the Cotswolds, some in Suffolk. And it always makes me very jealous. I love the idea of just being in a field. I could get into that. I mean I love being out in the world with people having fun, don’t get me wrong. But when it’s time to calm down, I’d love to have a little getaway somewhere. Success is not about “I want to make this much money” — money comes after the creativity. But I’m planning for that getaway.

MEET WEALTHSIMPLE

Wealthsimple is a new kind of financial company

Invest, trade, save, spend, and even do your taxes in a better, simpler way.

inline cta

The first big thing I bought when I felt like I’d made it was for my parents — I paid off their car bill. They were so happy. And for myself? To splurge, I collect sneakers. I love sneakers. I have a massive collection of sneakers. I think it’s fair to call it an obsession. I probably need to see a professional about it or something. And I don’t know if I could I ever sell them, even if I fell on hard times. That's how much I love them.

Hopefully, though, I’ll never have to make that choice.

As told to Jason Adams exclusively for Wealthsimple. Illustration by Jenny Mörtsell. We make smart investing simple and affordable.

Wealthsimple uses technology and smart, friendly humans to help you grow and manage your money. Invest, save, trade, and even do your taxes in a better, simpler way.

Money Diaries

"I WAS WORKING AT A VEGAN BODEGA WHEN MY VIDEO WENT VIRAL."

Awkwafina Tells Us the Money Secrets of Viral Fame

subscribe

Get the best stories from our magazine every month

Sign up for our email newsletter

  • Money Diaries

    Jeff Tweedy Was Smart About Money So He Didn’t Have to Think About It

    The Wilco frontman talks about safeguarding his creative process, his allergy to debt, and why he always rejected big record advances.

  • Money Diaries

    Friends with Money: Taylor Rooks

    The woman who emerged from last year’s NBA bubble season as one of sports media’s biggest star talks about navigating business as a woman, being transparent about how much she makes, and the rest of her money story.

  • MEET WEALTHSIMPLE

    A new kind of financial company

    Invest, trade, save, spend, and even do your taxes in a better, simpler way.

    see-more cta
  • Money Diaries

    Shangela Would Like to Remind You to Tip Your Drag Queen

    The perennial crowd favorite on 'RuPaul's Drag Race' talks wig economics and why resourcefulness is a vocational imperative.

  • Money Diaries

    Natasha Rothwell's Character in “The White Lotus” Finds an Angel Investor. Her Real Life Didn't Quite Work That Way.

    A Money Diary about subsidized housing, writing for “Saturday Night Live,” and getting into credit card debt from the actress (“Insecure”) and writer.

MEET WEALTHSIMPLE

A new kind of financial company

Invest, trade, save, spend, and even do your taxes in a better, simpler way.

GET STARTEDright arrow icon

Our best stories, once a month.

Sign up for our newsletter

The content on this site is produced by Wealthsimple Technologies Inc. and is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be investment advice or any other kind of professional advice. Before taking any action based on this content you should consult a professional. We do not endorse any third parties referenced on this site. When you invest, your money is at risk and it is possible that you may lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Historical returns, hypothetical returns, expected returns and images included in this content are for illustrative purposes only. By using this website, you accept our (Terms of Use) and (Privacy Policy). Copyright 2022 Wealthsimple Technologies Inc.

;