Courtesy of Calvin Klein

At the 2022 Golden Globe Awards Michaela Jaé Rodriguez made history when she was awarded Best Actress in a TV Drama for her role in Pose. The actress, model and singer became the first trans woman to win a Golden Globe. Despite the huge honour Rodriguez doesn’t feel as if her life has changed dramatically, but the awareness for her community certainly has.

To top off a hugely successful year (and it’s only September), the 31-year-old has appeared in the Fall 2022 campaign for Calvin Klein. Shot and directed by Alasdair McLellan, Rodriguez joined an impressed cast of fellow cultural catalysts including Chloë Sevingy, Dominic Fike and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

To celebrate the launch, GRAZIA spoke with the formidable star on a transformational 12 months, her hope for the future and her pre-shoot beauty routine (hint: it features just three steps).

GRAZIA: You were the first trans woman to win a Golden Globe. How has your life changed since then?

Michaela Jaé Rodriguez: “It’s been eye opening, and obviously life changing to receive such a prestigious award, but believe it or not my life has not changed that much. I guess I’m just the kind of girl who likes to stay rooted, but I won’t disregard the amount of awareness and exposure so many people in my community have gotten because of that award. So you know what? I guess my life has changed a bit!”

What drew you to work with Calvin Klein?

MJR: “I think the most important thing that drew me to working with Calvin Klein is the company’s inclusivity. They’ve never disregarded anyone because of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and being human. Not to mention the underwear is so fucking comfortable.”

Talk to me about the experience of shooting the latest campaign?

MJR: “I think the best part of shooting for this campaign was seeing so many people that I knew within my peer group, and seeing how far all of us have come collectively. When I saw my girl Precious Lee there – who not to mention is a supermodel and on the cover of Vogue – really put into perspective how we all have grown.”

What does your beauty routine involve the night before a shoot or big event?

MJR: “Well, first I clean the surface of my face with CeraVe just to make sure I get the excess make up off. Then I [apply] a serum by Charlotte Tilbury, then use a moisturising serum as well to lock in all the nutrients. I wake up the next morning and I do the same exact thing.”

What do you hope young people who see this campaign take from your example as trans gender model?

MJR: “I hope that the kids who see me in a campaign like this know that it clearly gets better and that there’s opportunity out there for each and every last one of them, you just have to chase it and go get it. You have to have the mindset, confidence, and resilience to achieve the goals you strive to achieve. It’s only hard if you make it hard. Yeah, it can be challenging – but who doesn’t like a challenge? The youth need to know and understand that not only are they the future (not to sound like a broken record) but that they have the power to really shift a lot because of their young minds. This is what I want them to know but also instil within themselves so that it becomes a routine to constantly be a baddie.”

In announcing the campaign, you speak about “laying the foundations” to keep us “sturdy”. What work still needs to be done in the fashion industry for the LGBTQIA+ community?

MJR: “I feel like the most important work to be done is breaking down beauty standards and how one feels they should look for a shoot. Too many individuals suffer due to how they feel their image is supposed to be perceived to the general public when in reality you have to look inside yourself to understand your beauty. If you’re going to set a standard, it needs to be for yourself and not anyone else. I hate beauty standards, they suck.”

Courtesy of Calvin Klein
What do you tell yourself during down days to keep you going?

MJR: “When I’m down I usually self-motivate in the mirror. Sometimes it consists of positive upliftment, sometimes it consists of me really telling myself off just to get me in the right mindset, to keep me centred. If only people could be a fly on the wall when those moments are happening.

You serve as inspiration for many people. Who do you look to for inspiration?

MJR: “I say my momma all the time and I’m not tired of saying it, but who other than my momma is the inspiration if not my momma? Most recently, though I’ve been following her career for a long time, Viola Davis. Her constant stride in the industry inspires me to keep going. With her newest film The Woman King, I see pieces of my mother in her and not to mention her acting is flawless! She influences me to keep walking that road less traveled.”

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