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Rihanna has been video director Anthony Mandler’s muse, as the two have collaborated on 17 videos together, spanning from “Unfaithful” in 2006 to “Diamonds.” He recently talked to Vanity Fair and was asked about RiRi. Read below:
Having worked with Rihanna on 17 videos, how would you say she’s evolved since “Unfaithful”?
The way I look at it, she was a complete form—an undeveloped complete form, if that makes sense—when I first worked with her on “Unfaithful.” There was this incredible power and emotion, this kind of dark side, and duality. At that point, she was kind of a Bajan island singer. I didn’t know what to do with her. Was she R&B? Pop? Reggae? I think on “Unfaithful” she found the beginning of a lane and a voice. If you look at the songs before that, “Pon de Replay,” stuff like that, they would kind of fit her into a marketable box, more like a female Sean Paul . . . That was what seemed like made sense. But the truth is that anybody who knew her at the time, anybody who worked with her, saw there was this other thing, this incredible fire, this incredible wise-beyond-years thing. It was just about her outgrowing the youth, outgrowing the constraints of the label, having enough hits, making your own decisions enough times. If you knew every single step along the way, you would say, “This could never happen; this never happens.” And it doesn’t. She’s the once in a generation. She’s the biggest star in the world.