Michaela Jaé Rodriguez on ‘Loot’ Season 2 & Her Biggest Beauty Regret

After starring as Blanca Evangelista on FX’s groundbreaking ballroom drama Pose—and becoming the first trans woman to win a Golden Globe and earn an Emmy nomination in a leading acting category in the process—Michaela Jaé Rodriguez wanted to start her next chapter with a role that would showcase her range and versatility. While she didn’t have a particular genre in mind, Rodriguez soon found what she was looking for in Loot, now in its second season on Apple TV+.

Created by Matt Hubbard and Alan Yang, the workplace comedy follows Molly Wells (Maya Rudolph), a recently divorced billionaire who finds a new sense of purpose in running a charitable foundation in Southern California. In her first foray into comedy, Rodriguez plays Sofia Salinas, the no-nonsense executive director of Molly’s foundation whose difficult, working-class upbringing has inspired a steadfast desire to give back to her community.

Whereas the first season focused on Sofia’s work life, the second sees the staffer opening herself up to romance with the support of her coworkers. It’s a new layer of the character that was particularly appealing to Rodriguez, who similarly began to find her own groove on set. “I’m now in the rhythm of my character and a little bit more comfortable and confident when it comes to landing a joke,” she tells W, crediting her costars Rudolph, Joel Kim Booster, and Ron Funches for delivering a “masterclass in comedy” day after day.

Maya Rudolph, Joel Kim Booster and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez in Loot

Apple TV+

Here, Rodriguez—who is set to release a new album that she has been working on for the last six years—shares the beauty secrets and routines that help her get red-carpet ready, the one massage that she still can’t stop thinking about, and her love for all things Charlotte Tilbury (for which she is a brand ambassador).

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

Exfoliate with CeraVe, cleaning all the excess makeup from the night before. After that, I go into my beauty skincare regimen. I use the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream, her under-eye cream, the collagen serum and an oil serum to make sure they completely saturate my skin. Then I put her Glow Toner on to even my face out, and then another layer of her Magic Cream, and I’m good.

What’s your favorite form of self-care?

My main goal is to start off the day with good lo-fi music. It’s calm as hell, but it’s also got hip-hop in it, so it feels like I got a little bit of my urban roots up in me. Then I’ll do a meditation for 20 minutes. I’ll put on some zen music and just clear my mind of all the anxiety, all the stress, so it can set me up for the day.

What’s your ideal spa day?

I don’t go to the spa that much. If I have time to go, it’s usually when I’m over on another continent. My manager got me a hot stone massage at the Corinthia Hotel in London. It was the best massage I could have ever gotten. Honey, it’s got me speechless right now.

What are the most important beauty tricks you’ve learned during the course of your career?

The most important thing I’ve learned when it comes to the aesthetics of the face is to use an illuminator—the old term is to illuminate or strobe. I like my lips to look prominent and pushed forward a little bit, so I’ll use some of that in the cleft, and sometimes even put it on the rims of my lip to look a bit more pursed.

Is there a beauty product you can’t live without?

Charlotte Tilbury’s Foxy Brown lip liner, her pink lipstick line, and her black mascara are crucial makeup guru hacks that I have because they keep your face looking natural but elevate you in a way.

What’s your beauty go-to for a night out?

At night, it’s glam. I like to beat my face, but naturally, so there’s going to be a nude lid. You’re not going to see any creases though, honey. There’s going to be a very sleek eyeliner. There’s going to be mascara. When I’m feeling romantic, I do a soft contour. When going out to the club or an event, I do a strong contour and a soft bronze on my cheek, and then I’ll highlight as much as possible. My eyes are my favorite and best part of me, and I want those to pierce through everything.

What’s the best beauty advice you’ve ever received, and who was it from?

Charlotte Tilbury is a glow girl and loves using it to really bring out the T-zone, and she just mentioned, “This is the greatest place that you can put your glow.” I was like, “Okay, noted, mama Charlotte. I got you.” I do [the glow] all the time—my T-zone, my chin, the tip of my nose, my cleft. If you want your cheekbones or a little bit of your chin to be shown, if you want your nose to be highlighted, those are the key things to do.

Is there a beauty trend you participated in when you were younger that you look back on now like, what was I thinking?

[Laughs.] The beauty trend that I tried to get with was the thin eyebrows. And when I tell you I came home and my mom was like, “Girl, what are you doing with your eyebrows?” I was like, “Do I look like the naked mole rat from Kim Possible, ma?” She said, “You do. Grow them back!” So I grew them back.

What’s your bedtime beauty routine?

If I have makeup on, I’ll use CeraVe to clean it off, and I’ll exfoliate with a rag. Exfoliation can be a lot, but it’s crucial because it removes that excess skin and bacteria. Then, I put on Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Night Cream—and that’s it. I don’t want to put serums on my face because it gets the pillows and sheets oily. But if you just put that moisturizer on, when you wake up, you’re refreshed, your skin is really glowing.

Who are your beauty icons?

Charlotte Tilbury, obviously. Rihanna. Beyoncé is such a beauty icon, and her makeup is always flawless. Naomi Campbell. Tyla and Zendaya have really been showing out. Whatever their beauty regimen is, I want it!

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