The Oscars host referenced the singer in his speech, pronouncing her name with an “Anna” sound. Some people watching the ceremony at home were apparently confused by the pronunciation. Rihanna’s name is often pronounced with a soft “a” sound.
But Molly McNearney, an executive producer for the 95th Academy Awards and Kimmel’s wife, explained to Variety on Monday that Kimmel had ensured he pronounced the “Lift Me Up” singer’s name the way she pronounces it — despite the fact that many people are probably accustomed to hearing her name pronounced differently.
“Jimmy is obsessed with pronouncing people’s names correctly,” McNearney said, adding, “We always find video of the person saying their own name on camera. And that is the way you pronounce Rihanna.”
McNearney later implied that Rihanna, who is from Barbados, pronounces her name differently than how people in America would.
“Now America knows how to pronounce her name, although they won’t,” she said. “They’ll just assume Jimmy fucked up but no, he did not!”
During an appearance on “The Ellen Show” in 2010, Rihanna told host Ellen DeGeneres that she pronounces her name “Ri-anna” — though she didn’t seem to mind hearing different pronunciations.
“I think it’s my accent, it makes me say ‘Ri-anna,’” she said at the time.
Rihanna, who earned an Oscars nomination this year, performed her song “Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” during the award show.