The Secret To Tracee Ellis Ross’s Funny On Black-ish & In Real Life

Photo: Bravo/Getty.
If you still think being a famous actress or even the daughter of one of the most iconic music divas of all time is all glitz and glamour, you’d be wrong. And Tracee Ellis-Ross proves it. The black-ish actress has experienced both physical and emotional pain just like everyone else. I had the honor of hearing about some of these things at a panel hosted by Motrin for their new #WomanInProgress campaign, of which Ross is a partner. The next day, I got to follow up with her over the phone. What I learned from both of these conversations is that Ross’ pain created the perfect storm for her to create the charisma that brings us Rainbow every week, and even her killer Beyoncé impersonation at the 2016 Black Girls Rock! Awards. There are a couple of things that you should know about Ross upfront. First, she is more like you than you think. She told me that Net-A-Porter and need to be deleted off of her phone because she spends too much time there. She even gave me this message to send to her comrade: “I’m sorry to my credit cards and I’m sorry to my hard-working self who works so hard for my money and then gives it to MatchesFashion.” Ross, too, is on the hunt for the perfect pair of jeans — her current preference is faux-vintage and high-waisted. She binge watched The Crown in a day. And after that epic “Formation” number at the beginning of last year’s Black Girls Rock, she had to take Motrin, ice her knees, and take hot baths for months.

“It’s taken me a long time to allow myself to be who I am."

Tracee Ellis Ross
She has also had to be intentional about owning her voice. She told me, “It’s taken me a long time to allow myself to be who I am. To be as big as I am when I’m feeling big. To be as loud as I am when I’m feeling loud. And to also give myself space to feel as quiet as I am when I’m feeling quiet.” This self-assuredness seems to have been worth the wait. Ross really is as light-hearted as you think she is. She laughs without remorse — at any given moment she’s likely to let out the same cackle you might reserve for an inside joke with your best friend. She credits some of this to her father. “My dad is hilarious. I don’t know if I got it genetically, but his perspective and point of view on life and ability to laugh at himself and laugh at life and see the humor in life is something that I love about him. And that I’m very grateful I got that.” And she certainly did. Her Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series Musical or Comedy is not for naught. Ross shines on sitcoms like Girlfriends and black-ish. But for all of her success in the genre, she’s never considered herself a comedian. ”I don’t know if I’ve ever considered myself funny,” she told me. “But I think I’m really silly. I do find humor in life... in a lot of things” she added with an uncontrolled chuckle. So if you ever find yourself wondering how Tracee Ellis Ross manages to make you smile every time she opens her mouth, know that it’s because humor found her, not the other way around.

More from TV

R29 Original Series