And perhaps not just for her music, either. Rihanna has professed an interest in acting, and her dance-filled videos of yore have given way, with this album, to videos in which she acts out wrenching mini dramas. A December appearance on Saturday Night Live proved she has comedic chops, too—“Shy Ronnie,” the digital short she made with SNL cast member Andy Samberg, became a viral phenomenon on the Web. (For the record, she was not bothered by the night’s two controversial skits that made light of domestic abuse—one about Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren and another about a Staten Island version of Gossip Girl. “Violence should of course be avoided at any cost, but Saturday Night Live is a show that finds humor in every serious situation, so it wasn’t offensive to me in any way,” she says.)
“Just before last year’s incident she was heading into focusing on acting, and that got derailed,” says Rogers. “But that’s what’s next for her—putting in time with an acting coach and getting serious about it. There’s a whole other chapter ahead.”
First, though, she has the rest of Rated R’s press blitz to endure—the week of her W interview she travels to London, then Germany, then back to New York for her W photo shoot, then back across the Atlantic to Paris. She’s also about to embark on a year-and-a-half-long international tour.
But just as she did last spring when she returned to the recording studio, Rihanna, who claims to hate days off, is embracing the intense schedule. Working, ironically, may be her best chance to leave behind the heaviness of the past year and regain some of the carefree youthfulness 21-year-olds are entitled to. And she most certainly doesn’t want her star to dim or her adoring fans—hundreds of whom are gathered outside the BET studios to watch her walk the 10 steps from the door to her waiting SUV—to disappear. She insists that throughout her whole ordeal, she has never once wished herself back in Barbados, living a quiet life. “Oh no, I never fantasize about that,” she says without hesitation. “Because if I were back there, I know I’d be fantasizing about all this.”