Pregnant Rihanna performs ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ hit at Oscars

Fresh off her Super Bowl pregnancy reveal, Rihanna returned to the national stage at Sunday’s Academy Awards with a performance of her Oscar-nominated hit “Lift Me Up” from Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

Rihanna crooned the aspirational anthem’s emotional lyrics from center stage at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre alongside a chorus of backup singers and an orchestra. It was the first-ever Academy Awards performance by the singer, whose custom Maison Margiela outfit designed by John Galliano showed her bare baby bump.


“Lift Me Up” was a finalist for best original song, which went to M. M. Keeravani and Chandrabose’s “Naatu Naatu” from “RRR.” The Oscar nomination was the first for Rihanna, a nine-time Grammy Award winner.

Rihanna, 35, co-wrote and recorded “Lift Me Up” as a tribute to actor Chadwick Boseman, who starred as the title superhero in 2018′s “Black Panther” before his death from colon cancer in 2020. His character’s absence is a central story line in “Wakanda Forever,” which premiered in November.

Rihanna performs onstage during the 95th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California.

Rihanna’s nomination was one of five for “Wakanda Forever,” which won the award for costume design.

Costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who received the same honor for the original “Black Panther,” said during her acceptance speech that her mother died last week at age 101.

“This film prepared me for this moment,” Carter said. “Chadwick, please take care of Mom.”

Angela Bassett, who portrayed the grieving queen mother, Ramonda, was nominated for best supporting actress. Jamie Lee Curtis won that award for her performance in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

Rihanna performs onstage during the 95th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, Calif.

Sunday marked the second primetime performance in a month for Rihanna, who headlined February’s Super Bowl halftime show with a medley of her greatest hits. Rihanna’s team confirmed her second pregnancy following the performance, nine months after the singer welcomed a son with her partner, Harlem-born rapper A$AP Rocky.

The other Oscar nominees for best original song included Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick”; David Byrne and Ryan Lott’s “This Is A Life” from “Everything Everywhere All at Once”; and Diane Warren’s “Applause” from “Tell It Like a Woman.”