You might know Issa Rae as the mastermind behind the YouTube series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, or the star and showrunner of HBO’s hit show Insecure, or as the new face of CoverGirl. The actress and creator is busy slaying in more ways than one.
Issa is quickly becoming a household name, and with the launch of her new CoverGirl lipstick campaign (which she co-created), she doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The campaign, which is appropriately titled Shade for Shade, features Issa and her real-life friends navigating nightlife in L.A. We see them playfully throw shade at each other for choosing certain lipstick colors, but the film also shows each woman owning the lipstick they want to wear during a girls’ night out.
Like Issa and her friends, CoverGirl’s campaign is all about being unapologetically herself, especially when it comes to beauty. HelloGiggles spoke to the Insecure star about CoverGirl’s new line, the beauty tips she’s learned from her castmates, and the best shade she’s ever thrown.
HelloGiggles: What lipstick color makes you feel the most confident?
Issa Rae: I would have to say definitely Succulent Cherry. Anything that’s a bold red makes me feel like I’m doing something. I’m poppin’. There’s also a shimmery red that I really like, that just makes me feel out of my comfort zone. Anything that makes me feel like I can get away with a bare face and a poppin’ lip always makes me feel confident.
HG: How has your makeup changed since becoming a CoverGirl ambassador? Have you gotten out of your comfort zone more?
IR: Definitely. I was just at Essence Festival and I found myself experimenting in private a bit more. I’m still not ready to display the experiments, but I’ve been trying a lot of different products CoverGirl sent me and I have never been one to do that before. Because it also feels like being a surgeon, not to reduce what they do, but that’s what it feels like. It’s just like, ‘oh what does this tool do and what is it gonna do to my face?’ And ‘oh, I like it’ or ‘oh, I hate this.’
HG: What are some products or makeup looks you’ve experimented with lately?
IR: You’re gonna laugh at me because I’m just mad basic, but even just different color eyeliners and different color lip shades. I would have never rocked a purple or even a black or just anything outside of a nude or a gloss. I think that’s why this campaign was so much fun because we got to try so many different blue shades.
HG: What is Issa from Insecure’s power lipstick color? And how does it compare to or differ from your own?
IR: I think Issa’s [from Insecure] would definitely be black. That’s how she becomes the most bold and powerful and kind of voices what’s on her mind. We saw the dominant black play a role in the pilot episode. So that’s what I associate with her power. Like, ‘get over here and look.’ I think mine is for sure a red. I tend to be more modest and shy and any time that I have a bright red, I’m like, ‘Here I am. Who’s ready for me?’ Even if no one’s ready.
HG: What lipstick shade would Issa wear to get back with Lawrence? And which one would she wear to put the moves on Daniel?
IR: So for Lawrence, I’m gonna say that she would wear Coffee Craze because it’s a nude shade and she has to come at him humble. She has to humble herself to approach him again, because any other state, he’d be like, ‘You’re doing too much. This is why I left you in the first place. Why are you wearing a red? Why are you wearing black or purple?’
For Daniel, I mean, you’ve got a lot of her. He’s seen many of her sides, so maybe something like a metallic purple or metallic red is something that she might use to put the moves on Daniel. She gets to be her playful, unapologetic self with him to a degree. He’s seen her rap, he knows all these secrets about her, and so that feels like the right tone for her.
HG: What are some beauty tips you’ve learned from the Insecure cast?
IR: So many of our castmates are guys and they’re actually the most meticulously groomed. It’s more vanity. So I don’t know if this still counts. Our guys, not to put them on blast, but they really get into the oil. They really get into the oils and waters when they know they’re about to get nude and that’s something that I have adopted. To make my skin super shimmery and to create abs where they don’t exist, oil will do wonders and drinking water. What is it? The night before, 24 hours,…I’m already fuckin’ up the tips. But to avoid being bloated, so that your muscles really pop, I think you’re supposed to drink water at 10 p.m. and then the next morning it clears you up. Is that TMI? That’s not beauty, it’s more of what the fuck are you doing? Yvonne [Orji] has not taught me shit, I would like to be on record saying that. She has not taught me one beauty tip. She’s selfish.
HG: I know you mentioned being unapologetically yourself before. What makes you feel like that the most?
IR: I just reached an age where I was just like, ‘Why would I be anything else? This is who I am.’ And I think that also comes with the confidence of doing what it is that you love. I’m here and I’ve been accepted by the people who love me, who matter most to me, so nothing else and no one else matters. So it’s like why not be 100% who you are and I just wouldn’t want to be anyone else. I think that definitely evolved over the years. I’m just happy with who I am.
HG: Since the lipstick campaign is all about “throwing shade,” what is the best shade you’ve ever thrown?
IR: Me and my friends get into some epic shade battles. To not incriminate myself, I guess I’m just gonna revert back to the commercial. A lot of those lines in the campaign were just me and my friends going at each other and that was just a lot of fun because that’s something that we do in real life. If you can’t check your friends, then who can you check? If they can’t check you and you can’t take it, you’ve got to be honest with them. So I can’t pull up a singular moment, but I tend to be shady where it counts. I’m helpful-shady.
HG: I thought you were going to mention the CFDA Awards speech where you talked about Kanye.
IR: I’m not trying to go back there. The Kanye fans were real mad at me. So let me not bring that up again.
You can shop all 48 shades of the CoverGirl Exhibitionist Lipstick collection on the brand’s site, and watch HBO’s Insecure Season 3 on August 12th.