Issa Rae and her real best friends throw shade for CoverGirl

The latest spot in the 'I Am What I Makeup' campaign features authentic, improvised banter

Published On
Jul 17, 2018

Editor's Pick

Issa Rae shows off her comedic chops in the latest spot in CoverGirl's "I Am What I Makeup" campaign from Droga5. "Shade for Shade" features not just Rae but also her real-life best friends Megan Lawson, Abenet McMullen and Devin Walker on their way to a girls' night out in downtown Los Angeles.

The action takes place entirely inside the car. Each of the women chooses a different shade of Exhibitionist lipstick: black, nude, purple and red, which inspires gently thrown shade, a bit of teasing and verbal sparring between gal pals.

If the banter feels authentic, it is. "We had a base script that highlighted the specific shades, but the spot was almost entirely improvised," says Alexander Nowak, executive creative director at Droga5. "We wanted it to feel more like an intimate moment between girlfriends, not a scripted commercial."

The women also chose their own shades of lipstick, based on their personal preferences. The specifics of the script and the shade, which are so closely tied to the colors themselves, grew out of those choices.

Rae's versatility--"actor, writer, director, producer--"is one of the reasons she was chosen for the campaign, which features other talented and stylish women like Ayesha Curry and Katy Perry. "A huge part of the CoverGirl rebrand was redefining what it means to be a CoverGirl," says Ukonwa Ojo, CMO, consumer beauty, at Coty Inc. "Diversity and inclusion have always been at the core of the brand, but we expanded what that means to include vocational diversity. Issa is one of the most talented writers of our time, so it was only natural that she and her girlfriends would riff off and improvise on of the example script that the team developed."

Like CoverGirl's previous spot for its TruBlend Matte Made foundation, this 2-minute short film is directed by Kim Gehrig; cinematography is by Stuart Winecoff. Rae also starred in a solo spot for the campaign, where she flirted shamelessly--with a mirror.

That spot was part of the initial rebrand Ojo mentioned, a platform on which these newer spots are being built. "Beauty is a very competitive category with new products launching all the time, and standing out is hard," Nowak says. "The beauty of the campaign is that it can be adapted to any new product launch, and 'Shade for Shade' was a natural extension developed after the brand relaunch."

Ad unit


Jul 17, 2018
Brand :
Agency :
Creative Chairman :
David Droga
Chief Creative Officer :
Neil Heymann
Executive Creative Director :
Alexander Nowak
Associate Creative Director :
Henry Kember
Senior Art Director :
Neil MacLean
Copywriter :
Hannah Park
Art Director :
Gemma Slack
Director, Film Production :
Jesse Brihn
Executive Producer, Film :
Mike Hasinoff
Associate Producer, Film :
Jake Herman
Music Supervisor :
Mike Ladman
Business Affairs Director :
Jocelyn Howard
Business Affairs Manager :
Kiki Powell
Global Chief Strategy Officer :
Jonny Bauer
Group Director, Strategy :
Katy Alonzo
Director, Strategy :
Cecilia Diaz
Communications Strategy Director :
Michael Pignone
Group Account Director :
Courtney Russell
Account Director :
Krista Tarty
Account Manager :
Dani Frank
Associate Account Manager :
Gregory Tate Villa
Project Manager :
Tessa Muchura
Legal :
Erica Palaia
Chief Marketing Officer, Consumer Beauty :
Ukonwa Ojo
Global Director :
Erika Woods
Production Company :
Director :
Kim Gehrig
Executive Producer :
Nicky Barnes
Producer :
Saul Germaine
Director, Photography :
Stuart Winecoff
Editorial :
Work Editorial
Editor :
Jono Griffith
Executive Producer :
Erica Thompson
Producer :
Jamie Lynn Perritt
Assistant Editor :
Theo Mercado
Post Production :
Executive Producer :
Matthew Loranger
Producer :
Krystle Timm
Creative Director :
Alvin Cruz
Lead Flame Artist :
Sam Caine
Flame Team :
Tim Crean
Flame Team :
Derina Doorley
Flame Team :
Rob Walker
Flame Team :
Meggen Burdick
Flame Team :
Giulia Barta
Flame Team :
Greg Cutler
Flame Team :
Lawrence Merrill
Telecine :
Colorist :
Simon Bourne
Senior Color Producer :
Chris Anthony
Production Assistant :
Hannah Oliver
Production Assistant :
Aaron Batista
Masterpiece :
Clarence Reid
Go Off :
China Fox
I Choose You :
Hold On Tight :
China Fox
Superfly Ky
Maximum :
Deux Twins feat. Outlaw the Artist
I Love You Dancer :
Marc Chantereau
Shake It Up - Part 1 :
Rickey Calloway
Sound Design :
Barking Owl
Executive Producer/Creative Director :
Kelly Bayett
Producer :
Ashley Benton
Sound Designer :
Morgan Johnson
Mix :
Heard City
Producer :
Andi Lewis
Mixer :
Dan Flosdorf
Mixer :
Mike Vitacco
Photographer :
Camilla Akrans
BTS Photographer :
Frank Terry

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