If success is today judged by your popularity online, Dua Lipa is a queen in the court of the highest form of celebrity royalty!
The video for singer-songwriter Dua Lipa’s chart-topper New Rules has been watched a staggering 2.5 billion times on YouTube since 2017. Further to that, her 2019 song Don’t Start Now has been streamed on Spotify more than 1.6 billion times, and her Twitter audience is a jaw-dropping 8.6million. At 26, her success is quite simply phenomenal.
And last year, those passing over the Sheppey Crossing could have seen scenes for the video for the Blessed Madonna remix of her song Levitating being shot. The video for the very Kent version – the track for which also featured Madonna and Missy Elliott – has been a rather more modest YouTube hit, but no less impressive with ‘just’ 35 million views.
Talking of our home county, the chances are Dua has pondered one of the Kent coast’s
long-running issues a lot recently. The current plight of people crossing the English Channel in pursuit of a better life is one that will chime close to home for the superstar.
Three years before her birth, Dua’s parents were forced to flee Pristina in Kosovo due to conflict and political uncertainty there at the time. At the time they left her father was training to be a dentist, and her mother a lawyer.
Seeking refuge in London, they both worked as waiters as they adjusted to their new life, before enrolling once again to continue their studies to better themselves. And, in 1995, Dua arrived.
“People don’t just leave their country unless they are left with little choice,” she says reflecting on her parents’ plight and that of so many others before and since. They leave to save their families and to try and get a better life.
“Under normal circumstances, people want to be where their home, their family, their culture is. They don’t want to move to somewhere they can’t speak the language.”
When she was 11, and the situation in her parents’ homeland had settled, they returned.
But when Dua was just 15 she persuaded her parents to allow her to return to the UK to fulfil her dream of a career in the arts.
She had fallen in love with music. She followed the latest trends and was determined to try and break into the industry which so captivated her.
Staying with a family friend in north London, she completed her A levels before enrolling at the celebrated Sylvia Young Theatre School – where she had taken singing lessons before her brief return to Kosovo. She picked up some modelling jobs, too – appearing for the likes of Topshop and ASOS. But music was her goal.
It was then she decided to try and gain some attraction for her singing efforts – and turned to the global audience afforded online.
“I was still going to school,” she remembers, “but I thought: ‘I’m going to use social media to my advantage and I’m going to put some cover versions I recorded online’.
“Deep down I wanted to have that Justin Bieber moment – where someone would find
me on YouTube.”
It didn’t take long…
By 2013, when she was just 18, the team at Tap Management – who have represented the likes of Ellie Goulding and Lana Del Rey – had spotted her and signed her up. Just a year later, record label giant Warner Bros gave her a recording contract.
Dua’s eponymously titled debut album, released in 2017, spawned a host of hit singles, catapulting her into the spotlight.
The likes of songs Hotter Than Hell, IDGAF and New Rules made her a bona fide pop star – especially when they started proving a hit across the Atlantic, too.
More hits followed – both at home and internationally – and her dreams of global
fame were coming true.
By 2018 she started picking up Brit Awards and, even more notably, her first Grammy.
But the impact of her sudden fame – one which had used social media as a springboard – had taken its toll.
“The scrutiny from the media and on social media can, for women, be so intense and unkind,” she says. “There was a point where people were almost making me feel bad about what I had achieved. Or, at least, were preventing me from feeling proud of the things I had done. They made me feel like I was unworthy of them.
“But I’ve worked so hard to get here.
“It would make me anxious. I had to keep saying to myself that these unkind comments shouldn’t be the way I experience this incredible time in my life. But it can’t but help knock your confidence.
“You just have to be made of steel and try not to let the words people say in the media, or online, get to you.”
The Dua Lipa album has sat in the UK album chart now for more than 220 weeks. Its follow-up, Future Nostalgia has been in the Top 30 since its release in April 2020, including four weeks at number one.
Outspoken on her politics – she described Boris Johnson’s election victory in 2019 as a ‘total disaster’ – she is bright and alert to world affairs and has stated that she’s keen
to ensure her platform on social media is one she uses wisely ‘rather than just posting cute pictures’.
Unsurprisingly, her fame has spawned interest in her private life, too, and she is believed to be dating the model Anwar Hadid – brother of US models Bella and Gigi Hadid.
Dua is no stranger to the huge fashion industry, either. She has a three-year deal with Puma to be an ambassador for the brand, and is the face of Versace’s latest campaign.
So is she tempted to go deeper into the fashion sector? “I’d love to do something fun in the industry,” she admits. “I’d really like to start my own brand and try and grow it. But, right now, my focus is on the music.”
And who can blame her when everything she touches appears to turn to gold? Or, in her case, Platinum!