Michaela Jaé Rodriguez Knows What It Takes to Be a Muse

The "Pose" star talks about her partnership with Charlotte Tilbury, favorite beauty lessons, and astrology.

Michaela Jaé Rodriguez x Charlotte Tilbury Interview

Courtesy of Charlotte Tilbury

What does it mean to be a muse? Its most basic definition (at least according to Merriam-Webster) is, “a source of inspiration.” But for actor Michaela Jae Rodriguez, who looked to Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, and Iman as her own personal muses growing up, her definition of what it means to be a muse is not someone or something that only inspires beauty from the outside; a muse has to inspire from the inside as well.  

“I saw [Campbell, Banks, and Iman] as muses for a lot of fashion designers and a lot of beauty products, and when I dissected that and looked at them, I was like, ‘What makes them a muse?’ It's not only their sheer beauty, obviously,” Rodriguez tells InStyle over Zoom. “But it's what they encompass as a human being and what they're going to bring to the table when they're showing [up] for a company that they really align themselves with.” 

It’s that ethos and conviction of wanting to make a difference that makes the Pose star the perfect choice as makeup brand Charlotte Tilbury’s first American muse. A partnership, she says, that felt natural immediately when the two met.

“The synergy between me and Charlotte when we first met was kind of cosmic,” she says. “You don't expect to really have a two-hour conversation with the person of your dreams. When it happens and then you create this wonderful, beautiful, wonderful business relationship but also a personal relationship, it sets the tone for everything else that's going to happen down the line. So I'm very, very thankful for her.”

Charlotte Tilbury’s latest campaign not only celebrates the announcement of Rodriguez as its newest muse ambassador, but also kicks off its newest collection: Pillow Talk Party.

The first launch is The Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Matte Beauty Blush Wand. Inspired by the super viral Beauty Light Wand in Pinkgasm, this new liquid blush is a game-changer for blush lovers everywhere. It’s a lightweight formula that blends seamlessly into the skin for medium buildable coverage and contains special silica spheres to create a nice blurring effect. And thanks to an easy-to-use wand-like applicator, it’s pretty hard to mess up any application and blending. You’ll find it in four different pink and red shades — Pillow Talk, Pillow Talk Pop, Pillow Talk Peach Pop, and Pillow Talk Dream Pop — all of which have a natural matte finish. But more than just hyping up what is already looking like another hit for Tilbury, Rodriguez says the campaign inspires hope and possibility for anyone who might feel left out. 

charlotte tilbury pillow talk matte beauty blush wand

Courtesy of Charlotte Tilbury

To shop: $42; charlottetilbury.com

“When I looked at the campaign, the first thing I looked at was all these four women right here grouped together. We look great together; we look like a team together,” she says. “And when young girls who come into this space, whether they be trans or not, they're going to look at this picture and they're going to see that it is possible to have this makeup, for it to lay on their face. They're going to see all types of representation and they're going to be able to see someone in every aspect that looks like them.” 

She goes on to explain that she has been a fan of Tilbury and her makeup long before partnering up with the famed makeup artist and founder, using the many hero Charlotte Tilbury foundations and powders. But after getting to know Tilbury and her team, Rodriguez says that one of the most important beauty lessons she’s learned from this partnership is that skincare goes hand-in-hand with makeup. 

“[A] skincare routine is the most important [step] before you put any makeup on,” she says. “I use [Tilbury’s] Magic Cream Moisturizer,  Collagen Superfusion Firming & Plumping Facial Oil, Magic Lip Oil Elixir — I can go on for days what I use for my skincare routine. She wants [skincare] to be done first. It’s crucial; you don’t want your skin to be unhealthy.” 

A style icon in her own right, Rodriguez doesn’t follow trends or spend countless hours on TikTok looking for her next source of fashion inspiration (“I don't go on the internet that much [and] I am on TikTok a lot, but I'm not looking at fashion on there,” she says). Instead, she’s simply mixing and matching things she likes to see what makes her feel good; clothes and makeup, after all, she says, releases serotonin when you feel good in something and give you that boost of confidence. 

“I like to see what is exclusive and nice to my body compared to how it would look on someone else’s body,” she says. “I like to test garments and I like to try different kinds of shoes. I like to do all of that stuff. I don't always look at references, because it feels to me like I might be taking them from someone else, and I never want to take them from someone else because that’s something specific to them and the deserve to have their [own] style; I don’t want to take it from them.” 

With her muse status, she just hopes others can look to her for hope in whatever situation they may be in. She wants to set the example that your dreams can be accomplished if you just hang on. 

“I just hope to instill in them confidence, joy, tenacity, resilience — all of those adjectives and words I want to instill in them and let [people] know that they are enough and that anything is possible,” she says. “Specifically for the young trans youth out there, the young trans girls out there, that [all of those things are] very possible. No matter what's going on in the world today, don't pay attention to it. You have true testament standing right here in front of you telling you to do everything your heart desires and what it dreams, and you will make it.”

As for fellow astrology girlies out there, I had to ask her what she loves about being a Capricorn. Known for their stubborn ways, she did have to give her fellow Capricorns some props. “We are great perfectionists,” she says. “We're not perfect, but we love to try to be perfect. [This] means we're going to always give you a good something. Whatever it is, we're going to try to make sure it is the best that it can be.” 

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