On Empire, Serayah McNeill plays Tiana, a rising pop star with a flashy wardrobe. But when she’s not onscreen for Fox’s hit drama, the 21-year-old prefers a uniform that’s a bit more grounded. "I'm most comfortable in bell-bottoms, a tank top, and platform sandals, so I'd never walk around wearing some of my character's quirky outfits,” she says in InStyle’s July issue, on newsstands and available for digital download now.
Still, there's no denying that McNeill’s personal style is often as attention-worthy as Tiana’s. Whether she’s hitting up a music festival with famous friends like Taylor Swift or rocking one on-point outfit after another on the red carpet, we can’t get enough of her show-stopping looks. Scroll down for 12 things you need to know about the star, from her fashion and beauty must-haves to how she elevates her Instagram game.
1. Style mantra: "Mix it up and have fun,” she says. “Following rules will limit how you express yourself."
2. Dream designers: "I could wear Moschino every day because I love how playful it is. And Vera Wang's pieces are elegant and tasteful."
3. Fave fashion spots: "Zara and Topshop are two of my favorites. I don't care what name is on a label. There are certain clothes I want in my closet regardless, like cool bombers from Adidas and leather jackets from Nasty Gal."
4. Red carpet secret weapon: "Fabric tape. A wardrobe malfunction is my biggest fear, so everything needs to be in place when there's a no-bra situation."
5. Go-to trend: “Cutouts really do accentuate your shape, and there are so many different textures and patterns that you can play around with—but I draw the line when it comes to how low down it goes in the back.”
6. Style icons: "Gwen Stefani is a fearless rocker who can wear the same boyfriend jeans and sneaker wedges over and over but make them look different every time. I also admire Rihanna because she does everything her own way but ends up setting the trends."
8. Current obsession: “I've been wanting to try out a super-fabulous lip lately.”
9. Winning words: “There’s nothing wrong with wearing makeup and hair extensions to feel pretty, but you can’t get lost in all of it. You need to love your natural self without any of that.”
10. Real talk: “When you’re in the spotlight, people look at everything you do. For me, it’s important that my followers and the people who look up to me feel like they could talk to me or imagine being my friend.”
11. 'Gram goals: "My selfie game is not as tight as Kim Kardashian's. She shared a photo where her whole team was holding up phone lights so she could get the perfect glow. I usually just stand in sunlight."
12. #Squad snap advice: “Being the shorty in the group, I learned that you have to pick the side that works best for you. It’s all about positioning, but the best pictures are less posed and more about having fun.”