Michaela Jaé Rodriguez on Breaking Boundaries in Beauty and Beyond

Actress Michaela Jaé Rodriguez interview with Charlotte Tilburry
Courtesy of Charlotte Tilbury
Courtesy of Charlotte Tilbury
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It just so happens to be International Women's Day when we sit down with Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, but it doesn't take a dedicated holiday for Rodriguez to celebrate and uplift women. The actor and singer is an accomplished, boundary-breaking force herself. In 2021, her role as Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista in the TV series "Pose" led her to become the first out transgender woman nominated for an Emmy in a major acting category. In addition to her acting credits, Rodriguez is in her second year as the face of legendary beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury's Pillow Talk franchise, an experience that she says reinforces her beauty philosophy.

"It wasn't just about the makeup itself, but how you make yourself feel within the makeup, and that's the most important part," she tells PS of her partnership with the brand. "We had the same approach of how makeup is supposed to be, which is it's not a mask. It's something that elevates you and makes you feel yourself. It's like a 2.0 of yourself."

From day to day, Rodriguez's beauty routine varies depending on her schedule. "When I'm having a day of glam, this is what happens," she says, gesturing to her voluminous curls and radiant makeup look. "Full glam, all airbrushed products. But on a regular basis, I don't overdo it because you want it to look as natural as possible." The star mentions she loves reaching for Charlotte Tilbury's viral Hollywood Flawless Filter ($49) for natural, everyday looks.

While Rodriguez's brand-new campaign for the Big Lip Plumpgasm Lip Plumper ($35), the latest addition to the beloved Pillow Talk collection, is all about '80s glam makeup, she says that skin care is always her first priority. "I think that's the key crucial thing I took away from Charlotte," she says. "We love a beat, but skin care has always been that first thing for me."

Rodriguez has also learned valuable lessons from fellow actors, including Maya Rudolph, her costar on the Apple TV+ comedy series "Loot." Having previously acted mainly in dramas, Rodriguez admits there was a learning curve when joining the cast.

"It's quite different," she says of going from the horror-drama series "American Horror Story" to "Loot," where she plays the head of a charitable foundation trying to reign in its newly divorced billionaire founder, played by Rudolph. "It's not hard, but it's just a different kind of mechanism. It's a different muscle that you have to use. It took a lot, but I'm glad I had the people around me, like Maya."

In fact, she may have manifested her costar relationship with Rudolph. "It was quite easy because me and Maya actually met a couple of years before," Rodriguez says of building a rapport with the "SNL" alum. "I remember telling her, 'I'd love to do a show with you.' And then I met her on set and she said, 'Remember when you told me you wanted to do a show with me?'"

Though she certainly has an impressive career under her belt, Rodriguez remains humble and openhearted. "There's so many things that you learn from people who have been in the game for a long time," she says. "That's one of the things that I took away with me, especially being on 'Loot' because I've never been in comedy. The thing that I've learned is making sure that I leave ego at the door, come in, do the work, and have fun with the people that you are blessed to work with."

Whether appearing in Charlotte Tilbury campaigns or starring opposite comedy legends like Rudolph, Rodriguez values the sense of camaraderie that comes with working alongside women. "That's the most important thing when you come together and create a partnership, the safety of it all," she says. "Women know how to keep each other safe because we know what comes with the territory."

As she gears up to reprise her roles in both "Loot" and "American Horror Story" (new episodes of both are premiering on April 3), Rodriguez reflects on the many opportunities that have already come her way in 2024. "It's a bit overwhelming, but in the best way," she says. "I'm really thankful this year came in really hot, and I mean, the train is fast, I'm not gonna lie. I'm holding on as much as I can. But it's been beautiful. I'm humbled and thankful."

Catherine Santino is a contributing writer at POPSUGAR, where she covers beauty, celebrity, and culture. She started writing in 2014 and has bylines in People, Insider, The Zoe Report, and BuzzFeed.