Odeya Rush: "It's Good to Not Be Too Attached to What Other People Say to You"

The actress on self-image, acne woes, and finding confidence.

Updated 11/06/19

When I was getting ready to interview Odeya Rush, I wasn’t sure what to ask her. Whether playing mean-girl Jenna in Lady Bird or sweet, down-to-earth best friend Elle in Dumplin’, the 22-year-old actress sort of just… radiates perfection. She’s beautiful, charming, and magnetic to watch onscreen, sort of like that one girl you went to high school with who was somehow too cool to hate. What do you even say to someone so flawless?

But despite her air of effortlessness, it turns out Rush knows a thing or two about battling insecurities. After dealing with a vicious outbreak of acne during the filming of Let It Snow, the starlet tried every trick in the book to calm her skin—but it wasn’t until she changed the way she talked to herself that her self-image began to improve. Following her performance as difficult-to-love Addie in Netflix’s holiday film, out this Friday, Rush decided to treat herself with the same kind of empathy that she used as an actress to relate to her characters. Want to find out about how she got into the role of an ice queen, figured out her holy-grail acne routine, and built her self-esteem back up? Read on.

odeya rush
Tina Turnbow

How are you doing? Did you do anything fun for Halloween?

Yeah, we had a Halloween party at my boyfriend’s house and all our friends were there. I dressed up as Jojo Siwa, so I was like, “I need some pinks and purples!” I made, like, a purple smoky eye.

That’s funny, because you’ve talked before about using makeup and clothing to help get into a part. How does dressing up for a role help you find the character?

I mean, I feel like we all have pieces in our closet that make us feel a certain way, and it will definitely change your mood or how you act. If you have long nails, you start speaking differently; if you have a lot of makeup on, you feel the heaviness of that makeup. If I have no makeup on I feel a little bit younger, more myself, versus if I’m all glammed up. It can definitely affect a performance, and I like to be as involved as possible with that.

How was that different for you as Addie in Let it Snow, versus other characters you’ve played?

I think I wore the most makeup I’ve ever worn in a movie in Let It Snow. What I also like to do for characters is that they have certain colors, ‘cause we all have kind of a color palette we really gravitate towards, like, “Ooh, that tone looks really nice on me.” So Addie’s color palette was baby pink and baby blue. It was very cute, it was pretty, it was perfect, because she does like to follow the rules when it comes to trends and things like that. It’s not very risky artistic makeup—it’s just very cute feminine makeup that will make her look and feel her best.

How did you get involved with the project?

I was either the first to be cast or one of the first. When I first read the script they were like, “Look at these few roles,” and I picked Addie because she was the farthest away from me. I really felt that I couldn’t have a friend like Addie—I wouldn’t be able to take it. So I was kind of interested and excited to find the heart in Addie and the things that are lovable about her, because if you’re playing a character, obviously everything you do has to make sense, and I was excited to delve into that with a person who’s completely different from me, a person I really would not wan to have in my life. For Addie, thinking that her boyfriend might be cheating on her is the biggest catastrophe in her life, and you have to play the truth of that. It was very emotional, actually, more emotional than I thought. I’m angry a lot of the movie, and anger is an emotion that is exhausting to do all day every day. It was harder than I thought it would be.

And the thing about the holidays is that every emotion feels more intense, whether you’re loved up or sad or stressed out—especially in the cold.

I do better in the heat, let’s just say that! I grew up in a very, very hot climate. I’m just better in the heat, I get cold super easily. And that was hard. I was also filming most of my scenes outside, so that part was hard, but it does kind of help with the anger and emotion because I was always uncomfortable. [Laughs]

odeya rush
Tina Turnbow

What were the products that helped you get through the winter?

Oh my god, when I was shooting I had so much acne. Sometimes I would come to set with so many pimples all over my face. It was a challenge for me to not feel guilty that, like, okay, the makeup artist has to do extra work on me to cover these pimples. I was using so many different random things that I’d read about—every person you meet when you have acne recommends something, and that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. My skin is much better now. I use Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen every day, and I use a hyaluronic acid from the Ordinary, and I also use a .5 retinol at night—that made the biggest change in my skin, I think. So now I’ve found what’s right for me, but I wish I’d found it back then.

How has your general skincare and makeup routine changed over the years?

I try to not wear makeup, or only wear things like IT Cosmetics that I know won’t break me out. Also, every time I look in the mirror, I try to say something positive about my skin, because when you have acne, you wake up every morning and you look in the mirror and you think, oh god, what do we have today, how can we cover this up? So, I really practiced changing the words I say to myself, and not saying to myself, “Ugh, my skin.”

odeya rush
Tina Turnbow 

So when you do put on makeup, what do you like to do?

If I’m having issues with my skin, I like to really have fun with my eyes. I like blue mascara, so I’ll just do blue eyeliner and then blue mascara on the bottom. I really like this blue mascara called Golden Rose Perfect Lashes. I found it on Amazon; it had good reviews. I have like four different colors of the Stila Glitter Glow Liquid Eyeshadows—I’ll definitely play with those. I’ll do like a green smoky eye, I’ll do a cat eye. I have the Nyx Ultimate Shadow Palette, which I really like—it has gorgeous, really pigmented colors. Another palette I use a lot is the Fenty Killawatt Foil. It’s both highlighters and eyeshadows in really fun colors.

Do you have other self-care or wellness rituals that really help to ground you?

I really like Louise Hay. I love her books and her audio. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning and I’m stressed, I need just to be reminded of how you control your own thoughts and how you can take this thought and shift it into a positive place. So yeah, I love Louise Hay. She’s really helped me. And really just watching what you’re saying to yourself, because so quickly you can wind up in a really negative place out of nowhere and your thoughts just spiral. So when bad thoughts come up, I try as much as I can to cancel them out with something positive or to shift my focus to something else, because the more I do it the more I know it’ll be a habit for me.

Yeah, it’s definitely a muscle that you have to work at.

Yeah, for sure, and you have to work on it every day. It’s not like, “Oh, I was nice to myself this one day, I’m done, I figured it out.” But I feel like—I’m not gonna say I’m less sensitive now, but I’m definitely more confident, and I can take more criticism from people. When I was younger, it was hard for me. If somebody said something to me, I would really take it to heart and I think now it’s so much easier for me to not hang on to what other people say so much. Whether it’s negative or positive, it’s good to not be too attached to what other people say to you, because to be honest, no one really knows you the way you do.

Credits:
Photographer and makeup artist: Tina Turnbow using Ogee
Hairstylist: Avian King

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