Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross doesn’t think of herself as a muse. The dynamic entertainer has been blessed with an acting career that spans two decades, and her hypnotic, joyful demeanor is in high demand on and off of the screen.
But this woman, someone who can easily take credit for being a motivating force for many Black women and girls, says she is simply living her life.
“My goal is not necessarily to be an inspiration. I think if anything, I want to continue to be inspired and to continue to grow as a person,” Ross, 43, told EBONY. “You can’t know what you don’t know.”
Despite Ross’ humility, she’s got some pretty admirable achievements under her belt. And it looks like the NAACP Image Award recipient and Black Girls Rock host is just warming up. In this EBONY exclusive, the host of this year’s BET Awards details her philosophy on happiness, humility and Black Girl Magic.
On hosting the BET Awards…
“I feel like it’s like free-falling with [co-host] Anthony [Anderson]. We jump out of the helicopter and are like, ‘You wanna pull the shoot? No you pull the shoot!’ It’s a totally different experience than on Black-ish. On Black-ish it feels like we’re doing a dance routine together—it’s choreographed and we get to be ourselves within the routine, but it’s a routine. The other thing is I have always been a fan of the BET Awards. I’ve watched the BET Awards every year since whenever and it’s a really fun show. So the combination of those two things makes it really worthwhile to come back a second year.”
On checking her Black Girl Magic…
“I’m a [person] among people and it’s one of my favorite parts of my life—the humanity of who I am, and how that part of me is the same is other people. That’s where connection lies, that’s where, in my opinion, the joy of life lies—by staying connected to what is real and important to me which is the reality of my life you know?”
It’s all about your outlook…
“My natural disposition is pretty joyful, but you know I have bad days and sad moments like anybody else. I enjoy my life and I don’t think that has anything to do with a bunch of amazing things necessarily happening, although they are. I think we’re as happy as we make up our minds to be. I remember reading something. There’s this mouse that’s being chased by a lion and he runs to the end of a cliff and there’s nowhere further to go. So he drops down and grabs a branch and at the top of the edge of the cliff because this lion is trying to get this mouse and he’s freaking out. He’s either going to drop to his death or be eaten by this lion. But he sees a strawberry hanging at the edge of the branch and he enjoys the strawberry (laughs). For me, sometimes there really is no lion or drop to your death, but even when the best things are happening in your life, you can feel like nothing is going right, or the worse thing could be happening and you can have the perspective of gratitude and focus on what you do have. I think that’s pretty much my attitude.”
Black-ish + Black Culture = Universal…
“I think that the topics that we’re dealing with on our show are topics that most people are dealing with in this day and age. I think that for years, people have been watching white families and identifying with them [and seeing] how we’re all the same. But this is an opportunity for other people to see a Black family and identify with us and connect to that place where families are families. Funny is funny and some of the situations might be handled in different ways, or have a more specific historical context because of the specificity of your race or religion or whatever those things may be, but in essence, a family is a family.”
Life’s no crystal ball…
“I think for me my goal is to continue to be teachable. I can’t see around corners, but I want to be able to walk enough in my life where I go around more corners than I ever thought I could go around. And I hope that the humanity of my own experiences and my own life allows other people the permission to also explore their own freedom. That the way I live in my humanity and in my freedom gives other people permission to find their own way for themselves.”
Catch Tracee Ellis Ross this Sunday as she host the BET Awards. You can also watch her every Wednesday at 9:30/8:30CST on ABC’s “Black-ish.”
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