Two Women Of Barbados: How Singer Turned Businesswoman Rihanna and the Country’s First Woman Prime Minister Mia Mottley Forged Their Paths

They’ve reached the pinnacles of their careers and are leaders in their fields. We find out more about Robyn Rihanna Fenty and Mia Amor Mottley.

One is a pop singer turned globally successful beauty entrepreneur and the other is a driven Prime Minister with plans to shake up her Caribbean home and lead it to independence.

And clearly, they admire each other. Rihanna is on record as saying that she’s ‘such a fan’ of the Prime Minister. In a recent interview, Mia Mottley pointed out that the country’s small size hadn’t held back Rihanna from her huge achievements.


Her career began when she was 15 and she gave an impromptu performance for music producers Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken.

Rihanna was born in Saint Michael, Barbados, in 1988 and grew up in Bridgetown. She is reported to have been affected by her parents’ marital problems and subsequent divorce.

Mia Mottley was born in Bridgetown in 1965. Politics was in her family – her grandfather was mayor of Bridgetown and her father was consul-general in New York. She

has a law degree from the London School of Economics.

Picture captions:
Mia Mottley by Timothy Sullivan (UNCTAD) via Wikimedia Commons
Rihanna by SIGMA via Wikimedia Commons

Rihanna was quickly signed to Def Jam and her first two albums were hugely successful. Global fame really arrived with the album Good Girl Gone Bad. The lead track, Umbrella, went to number one all over the world and won Rihanna the first of nine Grammy awards.

Mia Mottley was elected to parliament in 1994 as a member of the Barbados Labour Party and was appointed minister of education, youth affairs and culture. The lawyer became Prime Minister in 2018, following a landslide victory for the BLP.


While Rihanna’s musical career has continued, she’s taken on multiple philanthropic and business roles. She has her own charitable foundation and a lingerie line called Savage X Fenty. But it’s her cosmetics company, Fenty Beauty, which has become the most significant of her ventures. Not only has it reportedly propelled her to billionaire status but it’s widely admired for its inclusivity and its appeal to women of many different skin tones, which has been an industry gamechanger.

After just a few years as PM, Mia Mottley announced plans to make same-sex civil unions legal, hold a referendum on same-sex marriage and introduce an immigration bill to grant citizenship to the grandchildren and great grandchildren of Barbadian citizens.

Most significantly, she is due to turn her country into a republic later this year, severing ties with the British monarchy.


Both women are admired for their inspirational words.

The internet is awash with moving and motivational quotations from Rihanna.

At an awards event in 2020, she said: “If there’s anything that I’ve learned it’s that we can only fix this world together, we can’t do it divided, I cannot emphasise that enough. We can’t let the de-sensitivity seep in: that if it’s your problem then it’s not mine, it’s a woman’s problem, it’s a black people problem, it’s a poor people problem. How many of us in this room have colleagues and partners and friends from other races, sexes, religions? Well then, you know they want to break bread with you right? They like you? Well then this is their problem too.”

In an address to the parliament in 2020 Mia Mottley said: “There’s an issue as to who Barbados will welcome and who it will not welcome. Well, I want to say, as long as I am Prime Minister of this nation, we welcome all. Everyone. And that this country, that has been forged regrettably in the bowels of discrimination cannot now want to discriminate against anybody for any reason. All must breathe. All must breathe in this world. All must breathe in this country.”


Rihanna has never been afraid to try new roles and careers, becoming an entrepreneur and philanthropist with huge influence.

Mia Mottley is a pioneer who’s bold enough to speak out about inclusivity and climate change and who is leading her country to independence, some would say against the odds.

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