Canada's Director X Reflects On Rihanna's First Music Video
Canada’s Director X says he saw Rihanna’s star potential at the end of a long day of shooting her first music video in 2005.
The video for Rihanna’s debut single, “Pon de Replay,” was shot in a Toronto restaurant called Avocado when the singer was only 17.
“In the video, she has a blue dress on and it’s a solo cutaway performance shot,” he recalled, to Vulture. “We shot that at the end of the night. And when I saw her dancing on her own, I was like, ‘Oh s**t, we made the wrong video.’
"She had this ‘my performance carries the video’ type vibe. That’s when I saw it in her. She’s got something, she’s rocking this.”
X, whose real name is Julien Lutz, remembered Rihanna being “a little joker but always a pro” and explained why he wanted to make the video in his hometown.
“Nowadays people really understand how Toronto is a big West Indian town. But back then it wasn’t so well known,” said X. “I wanted to put that flavour around her with kids who came from the culture and understood it.”
It was then that Drake (who does not appear in the video) met Rihanna. The two would reunite with X in February 2016 to shoot the video for “Work” at the Real Jerk in Toronto.
“If you watch the ‘Work’ video, there’s a guy that Rihanna walks over and starts dancing with. That’s the same kid from ‘Pon de Replay,’” X revealed. “That’s not set up; he was just dancing around. That’s Toronto video dancer history right there.”
Rihanna marked the 15th anniversary of “Pon de Replay” on May 24 with an Instagram Story in which she wrote: “Pon de Replay is where it all began… 15 years later and I’m here because God led me to you, and you guys have held me up, supported me, tolerated me, loved me, kept it too real with me, and we gon always be connected because of that!
“I love you Navy, and cherish you. I’m so grateful to be gifted you as my fans and family.”
Listen to music from Rihanna