John Russo/DreamWorks AnimationRihanna made her acting debut in the poorly received 2012 big-budget sci-fi flick Battleship, and made cameo appearance in 2013’s This Is the End and last year’s Annie remake. Now, it’s her voice — her speaking voice, not her singing voice — that’s front and center in the new animated movie Home, in theaters on Friday.
In Home, Rihanna voices a resourceful and brave little girl named Tip who becomes separated from her mom, voiced by Jennifer Lopez, when aliens invade Earth. She evades capture, goes on the run and teams up with one of the aliens, voiced by Jim Parsons. Together, the two learn about acceptance, friendship and perseverance.
What’s notable about Home, besides its all star cast, is its diversity — it’s rare to see an animated movie whose lead character is a regular African-American girl, not some impossibly beautiful Caucasian princess. “I think it was both important to me and [the movie studio] for this character to be as realistic as possible,” says Rihanna. “We wanted little girls to feel empowered. Little girls of any size, shape, color, race — it didn’t matter.”
“We wanted girls to just feel strong and brave and empowered and beautiful and like they can do anything and they can take charge of their life or their situation, no matter what,” the singer adds.
Also important, says Rihanna, is the fact is that Tip looks like a lot of the kids who’ll be going to see Home this weekend.
“I think we were really, really careful, especially with the animation and making sure that she wore the right thing, that her body was not unrealistic, you know?” she says. “And I think for kids, that’s gonna be very special. For young girls, especially.”
Rihanna also contributed three songs to the Home soundtrack; songs by Charli XCX, Jennifer Lopez, Kiesza and other artists round out the package.
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