Tracee Ellis Ross: The ââStylistaâSpeaking Up for Sisters

Tracee Ellis Ross known for her lead role as Joan Clayton on the UPN/CW series, Girlfriends.

She came, she strutted, and she fell...flat on her behind. No really, you all didn’t see it at home. But during the taping for Black Girls Rock, the stunning actress and host actually fell out of her shoes while walking towards center stage. For someone else in her shoes, this may have been the most humiliating moment ever. But for Ross, 40, this was nothing short of a moment to laugh at her self. And we laughed with her. That’s just who she is, Tracee. A woman who’s just that confident with herself, that taking a plunge in front of a crowd of hundreds is nothing but dirt off her shoulders.

From the moment she picked up the phone, I knew this interview would be special. But I didn’t think it would have me in tears. I learned just why Tracee Ellis Ross is the star she is (it really has nothing to do with who her mother is, she’s special as hell).

EBONY: Ok, so I went to Black Girls Rock and you looked amazing and you were amazing you are amazing. But…

Tracee Ellis Ross: Oh. My. God. How about my entrance? Can we discuss my entrance?

EBONY: I was going to try to overlook the moment you fell, because we all have our “moments.”

TER: Let’s not overlook that, I am a woman who loves comedy. It was non-scripted, non-focused, I have no problem making fun of myself. That [fall] was hysterical!

EBONY: But you played it off so well.

TER: There is this perfect image by Getty of me going, “Oh my God!” I literally stepped right out of the shoe. I will leave the story to my website but its real good.

EBONY: You and Beyonce are the only two women who can fall and still look good while doing so. How has it been working with Black Girls Rock? You’ve been there since the beginning.

TER: Beverly Bond is such an extraordinary woman. She, to me, is the example of exactly what Black Girls Rock is about. It’s really about having an idea and realizing that anything’s possible. And supporting and celebrating each other. I really believe in what Black Girl Rocks is doing. I think the show that airs on television is just a small portion of the mission. I also celebrate BET for being so forefront for seeing something that was so important and giving it a platform. The examples that we set and the choices that we make and the actions that we take in our lives, especially when you’re in the public eye, are being seen by the next generation. We really are setting a tone for what is expected of them and what is possible.

EBONY: I was telling Beverly that when I was growing up, I was constantly looking for a face like mine on television. I’m brown; chocolate brown. So I really only had Oprah and maybe a few others. But seeing positive images of women of color in general, was rare.

TER: I’m extremely blessed to have the extraordinary mother that I have and I don’t mean Diana Ross I mean the mother. My mom paved a road that didn’t exist, as did Oprah. Black Girls Rock and so many countless others are setting an example. To put this show on the air in the context of the larger programming is really important. There were moments that really stood out to me. Janelle Monae’s speech was a really powerful. I’m always touched by people’s different stories of who they are and why they made the choices that they made. I feel so empowered by the story behind the person. Her sharing why she wears black and white, it really touched me and it really moved me. I took something from it although I didn’t take “I’m going to be wearing black and white.” [Laughs] Getting to hear those kinds of words is incredibly important. Hearing that we are more than our bodies is really powerful. If that message is being carried out in a larger way, that’s just wonderful.

EBONY: What has this never-ending journey of figuring out who you are been like as a Black woman in this industry? What has been the biggest hardships to overcome?

TER: Because of my unique experience as my mom’s child, the beginning of my journey was more about me trying to figure out who I was on my own. My mom is one of the greatest moms and so supportive of all my siblings and of all of us being who we are, and not who she wanted us to be.  But because of the uniqueness of my circumstances, the beginning of my journey with identity was really about finding myself. Figuring out who I was as a Black woman in the business was the second part of