Interview by Marie-Pauline Cesari

Introducing an exclusive interview with the boundary-breaking American actress, musician, and activist, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez. Recognized globally as a skincare and beauty muse for Charlotte Tilbury Beauty, Michaela Jaé is one of the stars of Tilbury's latest campaign, spotlighting the iconic and universally-flattering PILLOW TALK universe. In this interview, we delve into Michaela Jaé's remarkable journey from her groundbreaking role in Ryan Murphy's hit series, Pose, to her historic achievements as the first transgender actress nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe in a leading category.

What inspired you to join forces with Charlotte Tilbury? How do you feel about being a global beauty muse for Charlotte Tilbury and starring in campaigns for her Pillow Talk universe?

Our partnership happened really organically! Charlotte’s products have been trusted staples in my makeup bag for years, and we have created some of my favorite red carpet looks together, from the Emmys and the Golden Globes to multiple Met Galas.

I’ve always been so impressed with the quality of her products—they are my go-to, as you just know you’ll look amazing, given they are basically her 30-year career of artistry and beauty tips bottled. Plus, a Charlotte Tilbury beat lasts all night!

I am so proud to be one of Charlotte’s beauty muses. I love her, everything she stands for, and the passion she puts into everything. She is pure heart and magic. Her brand is both fun and fabulous, but also full of heart and passion to make the world a better place and to empower people to follow their dreams and love themselves – I love that!

I love that I’m starring in another one of her pillow talk campaigns. It’s one of my favorite campaigns to be part of because it’s the best example of representation—there’s such a beautiful variety of ages, skin tones and people represented!

Pillow Talk products are some of my favorites; there really isn’t any other shade like it anywhere—from the lip liner to the beauty light wand and the New Big Lip Plumpgasm Gloss which is a like a balm, a gloss and a plumper had a baby! I love a plumped-up, juicy, bouncy-looking lip and this is like no other lip plumper I’ve tried. It seriously supersizes my lips, and I love the glazed gloss finish.

Can you share some of your favorite Charlotte Tilbury beauty products and how they have become a part of your beauty routine?

Oh, that’s such a difficult question, as I honestly love them all, but I have a few skincare and makeup products that i couldn’t imagine having to live without!
My all-time favorite product is the beauty light wand in Peachgasm. If you haven’t got it, you need to go get it! It is the perfect, the prettiest blush shade for any occasion. I’ve also been loving the Pillow Talk Matte Beauty Blush wand in Peach Pop!

I have always loved pillow talk. I first fell in love with the matte lipstick and liner to contour and amplify my lips. But my new obsession is the new Big Lip Plumpgasm Gloss paired with the Foxy Brown Liner—it is my go-to! It is so comfortable to wear, and I love the Glazed Gloss finish.

When it comes to skincare, I cannot live without Charlotte’s eye cream and magic serum! I use this, followed by her Facial Oil, to keep my skin moisturized and to get that famous Charlotte Tilbury glow! And obviously, magic cream. I don’t even have to tell you about that, as you already know!
I always keep Charlotte’s mini’s in my bag—airbrush powder, the mascara, lipstick, setting spray, mini magic cream—that way I am always prepared for anything!

How do you think your partnership with Charlotte Tilbury beauty promotes confidence and empowerment for everyone, everywhere? What do you hope people take away from your collaboration?

I feel really inspired by the changing conversation in beauty – and I love that Charlotte and I are helping to drive that change through our partnership. We made history together! Charlotte really saw me as a person when we first met, and to have someone like Charlotte see you, really care about you, and want to celebrate you for who you are, and to partner in breaking barriers for the next generation of dreamers is something that’s difficult to put into words!

This relationship is so special to me, as it wasn’t just a first for me, but a first for all the girls like me who now feel seen, too. When you see someone like you doing something like this, it expands your dreams, and makes them bigger, and that fills me with so much hope and pride for the future!

I definitely cried a little bit at the start of this relationship, as a lot of Latina women don’t get the opportunity to be part of campaigns like this, let alone trans Latina women. I am so proud of being the first trans face of Charlotte Tilbury, but what makes me even prouder is knowing that I won’t be the last!

Charlotte is all about championing diversity and making sure that everyone feels seen like no other beauty brand out there! I hope that our partnership makes people feel empowered to pursue their biggest, boldest dreams and to live their lives without limits, as Charlotte says!

What aspects of Charlotte Tilbury’s brand philosophy resonate most with you?

What I admire about Charlotte most is her sense of mission and purpose. She created her company to empower everyone, everywhere, to feel like the most confident, beautiful version of themselves every day through the power of makeup and skincare. And I have experienced it myself—my skin has never looked better since I started using Charlotte’s skincare religiously. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Charlotte’s skincare routine, and my skin has truly never looked or felt better. Those products really are magic.

As an actor and performer, I have always loved the transformative power of makeup. You can instantly morph into a character or persona with the right makeup. Charlotte and I share the belief that makeup is to enhance, not hide, who you are, and that it should empower you and boost your confidence. Give me a pot of magic cream, some Hollywood flawless filter and Peachgasm and I am ready to take on the world!

How does your personal journey influence your approach to beauty and self-expression and in what ways do you think beauty and skincare can be empowering tools for self-care and self-expression?

My personal beauty philosophy is that there are no rules for beauty. There are no beauty standards. You are the person who has the power to see beauty.

I truly believe that beauty is all about confidence. I share Charlotte’s whole approach to beauty, in that, be it skincare or makeup, it’s all about making you feel good—it’s not about hiding yourself; it’s enhancing your own natural beauty. Makeup can be a superpower; it’s such a powerful tool to unlock confidence! It’s not a costume. It’s an enhancer, and it makes you feel like a superhero!

Breaking barriers in Hollywood, particularly as the first transgender actress to be nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe, what advice would you give to individuals who may struggle with embracing their identity and beauty?

There is nothing in this world you can’t do if you have belief in yourself and trust that the universe will align your path with dreamers and creatives who will help you live out your dreams.

Don’t be afraid to be unapologetically you—be loud! Take up space!

I am so proud to represent not only my community, but also the young people around the world who are still finding themselves. Each milestone for me is a stepping stone for them, to help make their journey that little bit easier.
I wake up each day with the mission to break down as many walls and open as many doors as I can to empower people like me to be authentic and believe in themselves. I may have been the first at a few things, but I won’t be the last!

How can the beauty and entertainment industries collaborate to enhance opportunities for transgender individuals, and what are your hopes for increased inclusivity and representation in the future?

Representation is essential at every level of business and creativity, and Charlotte Tilbury is leading the charge, breaking boundaries and setting an example for everyone else!

Charlotte’s beauty world gives everyone, everywhere, an opportunity to truly see themselves, and she was the first to truly champion diversity and inclusion in beauty. Charlotte is not only the most amazing creative and a powerhouse businesswoman, but she really uses her platform to celebrate and shine a light on everyone, and that’s why I am so proud to partner with her brand and appear in her global campaigns.

I’ve gotten a lot of positive reception from the trans community since joining the Charlotte Tilbury family, because seeing a trans woman front and center of campaigns with so many other amazing, beautiful people, sharing space together showcasing true inclusivity and diversity, is so important to creating lasting change in the industry.
It is a diverse campaign, and we are trying to change the world. We’re trying to lift as many people as possible out there—to make them feel comfortable and confident in their skin.

Your fashion sense has been widely admired. How would you describe your personal style evolution, and how does it intersect with your identity and expression as an artist and activist?

I have to shout out my team here! I am so lucky to have the best team in the world—my glam team and my stylists, Wayman and Micah, who understand and are excited by the transformative power of fashion and beauty.

There’s nothing I love more than getting dressed up and using fashion and beauty to send a message or embody a character. I’m someone who mixes and matches; I like to play with fashion, just like I play with makeup. I think there are no rules to fashion, and there are no rules to makeup. It’s all about what makes you feel most confident!

Reflecting on your career as an actress, what role or project has been the most personally impactful for you, and why?

Ryan Murphy has been a massive supporter of mine since we began working together on Pose. Blanca changed my life! Ryan has created space for me and championed me in Hollywood, and I’m so grateful to have him in my corner. He is such an incredible creative, and I love being back on set with him for American Horror Story!

I’ve always been a drama girl, so playing Sofia on Loot has been special for me as I branch into comedy. Working alongside Maya Rudolph has given me the confidence to let loose and have fun and playing Sofia has been a blast—she’s so different from Blanca, and it’s been fun for me to play a totally different type of character!

Are there any upcoming projects or initiatives you are excited about?

Oh my gosh, there is so much happening to me that I’m so excited to share with everyone! The second season of the Apple original series, Loot, and Part 2 of American Horror Story: Delicate, are coming out on April 3!

And the new Pillow Talk campaign with Charlotte comes out on April 4—so it’s a big week for me!I’m also planning to release new music this year! Stay tuned for more info to come on that…