Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has shared the story of her professional relationship with Rihanna, explaining how the pop juggernaut came to represent a charity aimed at securing education for children in developing nations.
Gillard, who serves as the honorary chairwoman for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), told Vogue about her initial 2016 meeting with the superstar and the singer’s immediate enthusiasm for the charity’s work.
“I found her very warm and very casual, no airs or graces, and very eager to learn,” Gillard said of their initial dinner.
The former PM said Rihanna’s own experiences coloured her interest in GPE, saying “she left school young because she was discovered young, so she’s conscious that she didn’t finish her own schooling.
“She talked to me about her brothers and how determined she’d been that they finished school, so I think she’s got this very personal sense that individual education really matters, and that’s why it’s so heartbreaking for her to see some children miss out, simply because of poverty and because of where they were born.”
In addition to working on the ground at GPE projects in Malawi – Rihanna was “running buckets of water here and there, and mixing bricks and making bricks,” Gillard said – the Grammy-winner was seemingly instrumental to securing governmental funding for the charity in 2018.
“She has also personally lobbied some key world leaders,” Gillard said.
“She tweets and motivates her followers – her Navy, as she refers to them – and there’s no doubt that has an impact on prime ministers, presidents and government ministers.”
It’s worth noting that Rihanna lobbied one-time Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to pledge $200 million to GPE in 2018 (Australia ended up giving $90 million to the cause).
The Vogue piece is just the latest insight into the unique relationship between one of Australia’s most notable leaders and one of the planet’s most famous musos, and how they came together despite Gillard’s self-admitted lack of pop cultural nous.
“I personally didn’t know much about her or have any expertise in her music,” Gillard said. Doesn’t look like that mattered too much.
Have a peek HERE.