All About Rita Ora’s Parents, Vera And Besnik Sahatçiu Ora

Rita Ora with parents Vera and Besnik Sahatciu Ora and siblings Don and Elena. VERA ORA INSTAGRAM
Rita Ora’s parents, Vera and Besnik Sahatçiu Ora, welcomed her in November 1990 in Pristina, Kosovo (then part of Yugoslavia) — but they had to flee the region just one year later. Vera and Besnik Sahatçiu Ora sacrificed a lot for Rita Ora to have better opportunities.
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The Albanian family relocated to England and started anew. Vera, who was a psychiatrist in Kosovo, learned English and redid her studies to get a job in the same field in London. Meanwhile, Besnik made ends meet by working at a pizzeria before eventually becoming a pub owner.

During an April 2023 interview with Vogue Arabia, the “He Said Don’t Call Me Now” singer shared, “I count my blessings every day that they did what they did.” Rita recalled that their household was “just love and resilience” while speaking with The Telegraph in July 2023. “It was all about being kind, being respectful and working hard,” she said.

The Masked Singer judge added, “It’s a very eastern European Albanian mentality: whatever happens, get back up, get on with it. Keep going and keep thriving.”

With this belief, Vera encouraged her daughter to perform at open mics, and Rita often sang at her father’s pub. Both her mom and dad supported her on the journey to becoming the world-renowned pop star she is today.

Here’s everything to know about Rita Ora’s parents, Vera and Besnik Sahatçiu Ora.

They Named Rita After An Actress

Vera and Besnik named Rita after her film director grandfather’s favorite actress, Rita Hayworth, per the singer’s October 2015 interview with The Independent.

Their last name, Sahatçiu, means “watchmaker.” When they moved to England, Rita’s father added the suffix, Ora, to her name, which translates to “clock.”

They Were Refugees From Kosovo

Vera and Besnik were refugees from Kosovo, and they fled to England in 1991, ahead of the war in the former Yugoslavia. Rita referred to her family’s home country as a “tiny little place” during a February 2018 appearance on Live! with Kelly and Ryan. She noted that the population is about 2 million people.

The singer was 1 year old when they relocated. “My parents didn’t really speak any English, and they really just kind of set up a whole new life for us,” she said on the show. “They really are the coolest because I don’t know if I’d be here today if it wasn’t for them.”

According to Rita’s October 2015 conversation with The Independent, Besnik got a job at a pizzeria, and they rented a flat off Portobello Road in west London. He was drawn to the city for its music and culture, per Rita’s April 2020 Vogue Arabia interview.

“We weren’t the richest of the rich, but we weren’t the poorest of the poor,” Rita recalled to Glamour in a May 2023 cover interview. “There was a middle ground of confusion — where my parents could take us shopping one day, but we couldn’t pay this for school the next.” She added that she always thought to herself: “If I don’t succeed, then will we go back to where we came from?”

The move was incredibly challenging for Rita’s parents. During an April 2014 interview with The Talks, Rita shared that she didn’t fully grasp the situation as a child. “The older I got, the more I saw what they sacrificed most — their families,” she said. “It was a pretty dark moment, but my mom and dad always made the best out of a bad situation so they figured it out.”

Rita emphasized to Vogue Arabia that Vera and Besnik worked extremely hard to figure out the next chapter of their lives. “They taught us to fight for what we want, to work hard, and to keep going; whatever your circumstances,” she said.

Rita’s Mom Is A Psychiatrist And Advocate

Vera is a psychiatrist with a focus on helping women with postpartum issues, per Glamour. Although she was a doctor in Kosovo, she couldn’t work in London for a while.

At the time, Vera relied on her then-3-year-old daughter, Elena Ora, to translate when they had a doctor’s appointment — Rita was too young to help, and the youngest of her and Besnik’s three kids, Don Ora, was not even born yet.

Rita called her mother a “hero” during her February 2018 appearance on Live! with Kelly and Ryan. “She got diagnosed with breast cancer, she became a psychiatrist, she had to redo her studies and she learned English at the same time,” she explained, praising her mom’s efforts.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Vera was on the frontlines. Rita opened up about seeing the chaos “firsthand” while speaking with Extra in April 2020.

“My mom has been kind of pushed forward,” the singer shared. “She’s actually a psychiatrist, so for her to then have to rush to the emergency room isn’t obviously her day-to-day thing.” Rita added, “She just really feels obliged as a doctor to lend her services … She’s definitely a hero for me.”

These days, Rita’s mother has nearly 90,000 Instagram followers and uses her platform for good. She frequently posts about mental health awareness as well as breast cancer awareness.

She Played A Key Role In Rita’s Career

When Rita was 13, there was an opportunity for her to perform at an open mic session held at a summer fair. “I said: ‘Look Rita, there’s a chance for you to sing,’ ” Vera told Hello! in February 2019. “When she told me she was too shy, I was upset. ‘But you go to school for this,’ I replied, marching off in frustration.”

Shortly after walking away, she heard her daughter singing a Britney Spears song. “That was a turning point for her,” Vera remembered. “There were producers in the crowd, all handing her their business cards. I chaperoned her until she was 16 and was ruthlessly protective.”

When Rita spoke with The Independent in October 2015, the singer recalled her mother helping her out at an open mic night in London. She was just 14 then — and it was technically illegal to sing in pubs at her age.

“I’d just set up camp wherever they’d take me,” she said. “Once I went to a funfair and my mother put my name down for open mic night because in the crowd was a Grammy-award-winning producer called Martin Terefe, who signed me to a production deal for two years.”

Rita Used To Sing At Her Dad’s Pub

When Rita was a teenager, she regularly performed at the “amazingly fun pub” in London run by Besnik, per The Independent. (According to The Telegraph, he owns three now.)

“My dad was a massive fan of big anthemic classic records,” Rita told The Telegraph in July 2023. “Growing up in a pub, you know, that’s what you do: you sing along and throw up a pint of beer. I think it was embodied in me then to make big hooky anthemic songs.”

Although she preferred “American divas” like Beyoncé and Mariah Carey, the pub crowd often requested The Rolling Stones, Nirvana and Fleetwood Mac. She gave them whatever they wanted.

“I was like, ‘Here we go,’ ” the singer recalled to The Independent during her October 2015 interview. “I really enjoyed it. I really loved singing.”

While speaking with Forbes in January 2018, Rita reflected on the many lessons she learned from performing there. She remembered, “My blood, sweat and tears were on the bar … I would go to school and then I would go back, and my dad would be like, ‘Get up and sing.’ ”

She learned about non-traditional hours, keeping up high energy, growing stronger from obstacles and refusing to “take garbage” from people.

In September 2022, Rita and British-American journalist Louis Theroux filmed a documentary at her father’s Kilburn, London pub, The Queen’s Arms. Besnik shared a clip of the project on Instagram and wrote in his caption that it was “such an honour” to host the filming.

Rita Helped Care For Her Mom When She Had Breast Cancer

After the family moved to England, Vera was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 30s. Her treatment was successful, but the disease returned when Rita was 14, per The Independent.

“The journey I had — it was really tough,” Vera said during her February 2019 appearance on Loose Women. “At a young age, treatment tends to be more rigorous and more prolonged.” She explained that she underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy in addition to her mastectomy.

Rita made wigs for her mother and cared for her when she underwent her major procedure. When the singer was a guest on The Conversation in June 2015, she opened up about the emotional toll it took on her after realizing the gravity of the situation.

“I felt, like, if I lose my mum, who’s going to be proud of me? … Everything I do, I do it for her,” the “Your Song” vocalist said, adding that Vera has been cancer-free since 2010.

Rita’s Mom Is The Face Of A Post-Mastectomy Swimwear LinE

Vera is the face of an Amoena post-mastectomy swimwear collection designed by Melissa Odabash and launched by breast cancer charity Future Dreams, per Hello!.

In February 2019, Vera told the magazine, “It was difficult to hide my scars on holiday. I felt self-conscious and would try to cover up or sew fabric into my swimming tops.”

She explained that she loves the Amoena line because it’s designed “especially for women like me” and called the swimwear “so soft and figure-flattering.”

Rita Featured Her Parents In A Song And Music Video

In January 2024, Rita collaborated with Keith Urban to release a duet version of her song “Shape of Me” in honor of Vera’s 60th birthday. She details her mother’s advice and support in the touching lyrics: “Yeah my mama got that heart / She said don’t let go of the parts that keep you younger.”

Later in the track, the musician croons about Vera, “She said, don’t you worry, babe / You’ve got my blood in your veins / I’ll be here to catch you / When your world is just about to break.”

To accompany the meaningful song, Rita released a visualizer video that features childhood home videos and shows her family adjusting to life in London after fleeing from Kosovo. In the sentimental clips, Rita and her parents and siblings can be seen dancing in their home, swimming, enjoying meals and having fun outings.

In an Instagram teaser for the video, Rita wished Vera a happy birthday and opened up about the meaning behind the new project. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM!” she wrote. “We’ve been through everything together, you’ve always been such a beautiful inspiration in my life and in my music. I wanted to write a song about you for the longest time.”

She continued, “SO, what better way to say HBD then to share a new version of it with the AMAZING @keithurban…So surprise mum this one is for you! Happy 60th!”

They Share A Special Bond With Rita

To Vera, Rita will always be her daughter first, regardless of her fame. During her February 2019 chat with Hello!, she explained, “I tell Rita we are all superstars in our own right. Being in the public eye doesn’t mean she’s better than anyone else and she knows that; she still has to blitz the kitchen once in a while.”

Vera added that she and her daughter still do “normal stuff” together like they did before she became a famous singer. “When I visit, we still sleep in the same bed, I give her massages and do her hair,” she shared.

Rita also shares a close relationship with Besnik, who frequently expresses his love for her on social media. In November 2020, he posted a birthday tribute for the singer, sharing a photo of her smiling.

“Happy Birthday Rita????????????????????????,” he wrote in his caption. “May happiness, love and health always be with you. Shine your light my little baby❤️❤️❤️.”

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