Rihanna has shared the reasoning behind her decision to perform at this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show after previously turning down the coveted opportunity in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.
In a newly published interview with British Vogue, the Fenty Beauty founder explained that last year’s groundbreaking halftime show ― a celebration of hip-hop featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem and Mary J. Blige ― was one of the key elements behind the change of heart.
“There’s still a lot of mending to be done in my eyes,” the singer said. “But it’s powerful to break those doors, and have representation at such a high, high level and a consistent level.”
“Two Super Bowls back-to-back,” she continued. “You know, representing the urban community, globally. It is powerful. It sends a really strong message.”
Another factor, she said, was the birth of her son in May.
“Raising a young Black man is one of the scariest responsibilities in life,” she told the magazine, adding that things had started to “hit differently.” “You’re like, ‘What am I leaving my kids to? This is the planet they’re gonna be living on?’”
Rihanna turned down the NFL’s invitation to perform at the 2019 Super Bowl in a show of support for Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who was effectively pushed out of the NFL after leading protests against racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.
At the time, Rihanna said, “I just couldn’t be a sellout,” noting that there were things within the NFL that “I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in that way.”
Ahead of this year’s performance, some commentators recirculated those remarks, wondering what had changed for the singer. Other fans criticized her as a sellout for agreeing to do the show when “only three years ago she said she wanted nothing to do with.”