No, Jimmy Kimmel Didn’t Mispronounce Rihanna’s Name During His Oscars Monologue
It’s Rih-ANN-a, not Rih-AH-na. Many viewers tuning in to the 2023 Oscars on Sunday night (March 12) assumed that the show’s host Jimmy Kimmel had incorrectly said Rihanna‘s name during the opening monologue — but turns out, he was right all along.
The Jimmy Kimmel Live! host’s executive producer (and wife!) Molly McNearney revealed in a Variety interview published Monday (March 13) that Kimmel had actually personally researched the correct pronunciation of “Rihanna” before the show began. “Jimmy is obsessed with pronouncing people’s names correctly,” McNearney said. “We always find video of the person saying their own name on camera.”
“And that is the way you pronounce Rihanna,” she continued. “There’s a whole interview with her about it. Jimmy said, ‘I want to call her the way the name that she calls herself.’ And that’s how she says it in Barbados. It felt funny to people.”
The interview McNearney referred to may very well have been a 2010 chat between the Fenty mogul and Ellen Degeneres, during which the former daytime talk host specifically asked Rih to clarify her name’s pronunciation. “I say Rih-ANN-a, but Rih-AH-na’s okay,” she said at the time. “I think it’s my accent that makes me say Rih-ANN-a.”
“Now America knows how to pronounce her name, although they won’t,” McNearney added. ‘They’ll just assume Jimmy f–ked up but no, he did not!”
Getting Rihanna’s name right was extra important on Oscars night because of how much the singer — who was nominated for best original song with “Lift Me Up” — was the focus of jokes Kimmel had planned for his opening remarks. “We had two versions of the monologue,” McNearney revealed. “One if Rihanna was in her seat, one if she was not in her seat. One if Rihanna had her baby on her lap, which she wanted to do. And one if her baby was not on her lap.”
“A lot of our jokes were kind of at the mercy of people being in their seats,” she recalled. “As they were pulling Jimmy up on that harness for the open, we’re shouting up to him, ‘Rihanna is not in her seat! We’re going to adjust the prompter!’”
Watch Rihanna herself clarify how to pronounce her name on The Ellen Degeneres Show below:
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