Renell Medrano: “Rihanna doesn’t give a fuck about anything”

In i-D's special Rihannazine issue, the photographer shares how she's learned from failure and her biggest success.

by i-D Staff
20 January 2020, 6:00am

This story originally appeared in i-D's 'Rihannazine' Special Edition, no. 01, 2020. Order your copy here. For this one-off project, Rihanna put a series of questions to the women shaping culture today, and invited them to share their visions for 2020.

Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Renell Medrano, and I’m a photographer from the Bronx.

What’s been your biggest success?
My biggest success – and it’s still happening – is being a black female photographer, and being able to work with publications and brands that I didn’t think I would ever work with.

Do you think personal and professional success are linked?
Personal and professional success do come together for me. Because if I’m personally happy, then I feel like I can successfully move on in my work, and do the things I want to do.

What would you describe as your biggest failure?
I feel like I’ve had moments where I did fail, but I’ve definitely learned from them and grown. I’m very thankful for my failures.

As we’re heading into 2020, what are you taking with you into this year, and what are you leaving behind in 2019?
What am I taking with me? Everything I’ve learned. And what I’m leaving behind is fear.

If you could ask Rihanna one question, what would it be?
Riri, I have one question: When are we shooting? That’s about it. I want a shoot date.

So you’ve hung out loads – she’s a good friend?
She’s my girlfriend! She’s my boo-thang.

Do you remember when you met?
An after-party pop-up in New York, and that’s when I finally got to know her one-on-one, and we just danced, and drank and smoked.

What’s your favourite thing about her?
How badass she is, and how she just doesn’t give a fuck about anything. Or that’s what she makes it look like! So I admire that. And she’s such a boss at everything she does.

renell medrano
Renell wears bra Nu Swim. Skirt ARE YOU AM I. Jewellery model’s own.


Photography Mario Sorrenti
Styling Carlos Nazario

Hair AKKI at Art Partner using Oribe.
Make-up Kanako Takase at Streeters.
Nail technician Honey at Exposure NY using Tom Ford Beauty.
Set design Jack Flanagan at The Wall Group.
Lighting technician Lars Beaulieu.
Photography assistance Kotaro Kawashima, Javier Villegas and Jared Zegha.
Digital technician Johnny Vicari.
Styling assistance Raymond Gee, Erica Boisaubin and Christine Nicholson.
Tailor Thao Huynh.
Hair assistance Rei Kawauchi, Takao Hayashi and Motome Yamashita.
Make-up assistance Aimi Osada & Megumi Onishi.
Set design assistance Akaylah Reed and Joe Arai.
Production Katie Fash.
Production coordinator Layla Némejanski.
Production assistance Fujio Emura.
Casting director Samuel Ellis Scheinman for DMCASTING.
Casting assistance Cicek Brown for DMCASTING.

Mario Sorrenti
renell medrano