Ross herself is a woman with many parts: She is an actress, an advocate, a fashion designer, a beauty disruptor, a political opiner—and a doctor. Seriously. She is Dr. Tracee Ellis Ross, thanks to an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, Brown University. And she’s teaching us all to get to know ourselves, to own our dreams and desires, to celebrate our individual paths, and to make space for people to follow their own paths too. Dr. Ross, everyone.
Read Excerpts below
GLAMOUR: In 2017, you became the first black woman in more than 30 years to win the Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy and you got an Emmy nod. You just got nominated for a 2018 NAACP Image Award. What do those wins and nods mean to you?
TRACEE ELLIS ROSS: There’s the personal gratification: I have dreamt of moments like these since I was a little girl, accepting my Oscar in the mirror. So it’s a dream come true. Oh my God, I made it. Pinch me. But what has been way more impactful for me is the larger meaning…. When another woman or another woman of color has a win, I feel like it’s my win. I feel like it’s a ceiling breaking open. And so the nominations, even the win, really feels like it’s not mine. It’s like something becomes more possible.
GLAMOUR: Let’s talk about Black-ish: There’s so much to Bow as a character, and that’s still rare for a sitcom wife.
TER: It is, and Black-ish is told through [Bow’s husband] Dre’s eyes, so it is very traditional in that sense. But I am not wife wallpaper in his world. The tendency, in the old paradigm of how you look at a sitcom wife, is to say, “Isn’t it incredible that she’s also a doctor?” And it’s like, No, what’s incredible about her is that she’s a doctor, wife, mother, person—at any given point she can be any of those things. She’s very fully-formed.
And I am constantly asking questions of the writers: Why? Why am I doing—I coined it as lady chores—why is it that I am making lunches, and Dre is not making lunches? Why am I carrying laundry? Can I not come out of the laundry room, and come in from work? Can I have a wine glass instead of be stirring soup? The writers—we have almost 50 percent female writers—they are so attuned to Bow. There is no one consciously attempting to give me lady chores, but sometimes [it happens] unconsciously. Anthony [Anderson, who plays Dre] will be like, “Let’s switch; let me take a lady chore.” I would say that eight out of 10 times, it gets changed. Sometimes it doesn’t work for the story…and you know what? I have no problem [then]. I do laundry, I wash dishes, I make food as a human being.
GLAMOUR: That’s true. As long as that’s not the only thing you see Bow do. How does it feel to play a character whose lived experience is so different from your own? She is married with five kids!
TER: It is fun, and sometimes it feels like it steals certain experiences from me. I’ve never been pregnant. As I said in my Women of the Year Summit speech, “It’s really interesting to be a woman and to get to 45, and not be married and not have kids. Especially when you have just pushed out your fifth kid on TV.” And to have spent an entire season pregnant! …On the other hand, it feels very natural: I am very mothering. Whether I end up having children or not, I will always be a very mothering person.
GLAMOUR: You recently hosted the American Music Awards, where your mom received the Lifetime Achievement Award. I loved seeing her perform on that stage at 73. What was that like for you?
TER: The Diana Ross we all know kind of doesn’t hold a candle to the mom that I have, in her extraordinary ability to love. What was most impactful about that moment to me was that my mother was receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award for her career, and the most important thing to my mom was to have her entire family onstage with her. My mom had my nieces and nephews—her grandchildren—dancing around her. Whenever we go see her show, that’s what happens. That’s the way I grew up, dancing onstage while my mom was singing. Just like walking on the stage and tapping her on the butt, and like, “Mom, Mom.” My mom holds her family and a career and nourishes both things.
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