"[My stylist] Felicia Leatherwood was the game changer for me."

By Kayla Greaves
Sep 21, 2020 @ 9:00 am
Credit: Itaysha Jordan

Between prep for the fifth season of Insecure, and the three movies she starred in this year, Emmy-nominated actress Issa Rae is a busy woman. Lucky for us, the Coastal Elites star made time to chat with InStyle about social-distanced hangs, her secret for “popping” skin, and being in a relationship with her hair.

This year has been heavy. How have you managed to still find joy?

This has been a time to get significantly closer to my family. We’re making it a point to talk so much more, especially my siblings, and that’s been kind of the bright spot. I also got so tired of not seeing my best friend. I was like, “Girl, can we just do a COVID-safe playdate?” And she was down. That was the closest to normalcy that I’d had in a minute.

Credit: Vera Anderson/WireImage
Credit: Joanna Simkin

You also basically cleaned up with multiple Emmy nominations for Insecure.

That definitely didn’t hurt. It really set in when I heard Yvonne [Orji] got nominated. I called her and said, “Does this make all the Molly hate worth it?” And she was like, “Yes!” [laughs] It was just a dope feeling to be recognized in that way.

Credit: courtesy Dermalogica

I feel like everyone’s got a glow since being at home. How has your beauty routine shifted during quarantine?

Oh my god, my skin is so popping right now. I’m not putting on pounds of makeup every day for a shoot, and I’m not extremely stressed. I’m sleeping a bit more, drinking water, and trying new skin-care products. Usually I’m scared to try new things, but I’ve been loving experimenting at this time. One of my recent faves is the Nourishing Face Cream by Retrouvé. And I still love Dr. [Barbara] Sturm products.

Credit: courtesy Retrouvé

$390/30 ml; retrouve.com.

Credit: courtesy Dr. Sturm

$300; drsturm.com.

Which ones?

I’ve been using her Hyaluronic Acid Serum for a while, and it’s really making a difference. We are in the writers’ room [working on the next season of Insecure], and when I show up in the morning after leaving the serum on, I get compliments even though I don’t have any makeup on.

Credit: courtesy Sienna Naturals
Credit: courtesy Sienna Naturals

We need to talk hair too. I love that you’re always showing off the versatility of your 4C coils.

I have been natural for most of my life. I didn’t start embracing my hair until college, but I still didn’t have a handle on it.Then I went through a period in 2010 where I did too much to it, and I did the big chop. But [stylist] Felicia Leatherwood was the game changer for me. She has been instrumental in helping me to see all the things I can do with my hair and taught me how to take care of it. She honestly likes my hair better than she likes me! To have someone literally love your hair, like, how can you not love it yourself?

Credit: Joanna Simkin

You’re producing a documentary for HBO called Seen & Heard that focuses on the contributions of Black Hollywood. Who is your TV hero?

Moesha. I just rewatched the pilot [on Netflix], and I got so in my feelings. Seeing her meant so much to me as a Black girl in high school in L.A. She was just so cool. I don’t think I realized how much I took that imagery for granted.

For more stories like this, pick up the October issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download Sept. 18.