Rita Ora has discussed her experiences as a refugee and the importance of positive refugee stories, in an exclusive interview in this week’s Big Issue in which she and DJ/producer Norman ‘Fatboy Slim’ Cook, discuss their new collaboration, Praising You, an update of Cook’s classic Praise You.
Ora and her family fled their native Kosovo in 1991 amid ethnic tensions and violence as the former Yugoslavia disintegrated and thousands of displaced people sought refuge in the UK and other countries.
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“At this point in my career – I’ve been in the game 10 plus years now – I felt it was important to remind the public, as well as myself, of the journey,” Ora said of her wish to open up “people’s perception of a girl like me coming from a third world country like Kosovo, and yes, being a refugee and coming into the UK and my dreams coming true.”
Ora emphasised the importance of cherishing the opportunities she has been given: “If I didn’t have the opportunity to move to London and my parents didn’t make that brave change, I wouldn’t be able to sit here and talk to [Norman Cook], one of my heroes. And on top of that, make music. I say to myself every day, I’m so fortunate and so grateful. I know I deserve it because I work really hard. But there’s a lot of kids like me from where I’m from that it doesn’t really happen for. So I never take it for granted.”
The pair discussed the value of sharing uplifting refugee stories in the current political climate, in which refugees, especially those arriving on small boats, are a political football. It’s a climate exemplified by the recent passing of the UK’s Illegal Migration Bill, which has been criticised for dramatically curtailing the asylum system.