Tracee Ellis Ross: ‘At 18 I might have woken up like this. At 45 I f-ing work for it’

Tracee Ellis Ross is goals in so many ways. She lives her life on her terms, her fashion is aspirational, and she will tell you about it. Ross covers InStyle’s November issue. She must have had input the editorial, or the stylist must know her well. The photos look just like she dresses for the red carpet – like she’s a walking work of art in giant couture in bright solid colors. The interview was a joy to read. As someone her age who also loves fashion and dressing up, I can relate to so much of what she said. I also leave parties and events at 9pm and I also love my solitude. Plus I work out so I can eat, I’m not going to lie. It’s hard to do the interview justice but here are a few of my favorite excerpts.

On being happily single and being asked to account for that
It’s sort of fascinating to be 45 and single and childless. Happily single, I should add. Not at home crying about it. These are very big and very personal questions that aren’t anyone’s business but that somehow, like the right to choose, become fodder for public conversation. Some of the ability to reflect on what I really want comes from pushing up against a society that shames me for not having the expected trappings. I’m very pleased with my existence these days. Have I had to learn to make friends with loneliness? Yes. I think if I were in a relationship, it would be the same.

She leaves social events at 9pm
To get me out of the house is not so easy. I lose my social ability after 9 o’clock. My friends joke about it: You could be on a dance floor with me… and you turn around and I’m gone.

On how Black-ish is bringing important issues to a wider audience
We’re using comedy to discuss some real sh-t. I think it’s stuff that all of us are chomping on or wondering how other people are dealing with. I would say that 70 percent of the people who come up to me on the street are 11-year-old white boys who are obsessed with our show. Where in their 11 years would the unpacking of the historical context of the N-word come up? I think that’s great.

On self care
At 18 I might have woken up like this. At 45 I f-g work for it. I love potato chips more than anything in the world, and so I work out hard. I put masks on my face. I take care of myself. And, by the way, to me self-care does not mean going to the spa. It’s learning to say no. It’s knowing yourself so you can make choices that are an expression of you.

On growing up privileged as Diana Ross’ daughter
I have always had a lot of abundance. I was very well educated because of my mother’s gift. I feel very aware of that privilege. There were beautiful things everywhere, but there was a sense of taking care of and cherishing beauty. And also of not taking things too seriously… I grew up the way Blue Ivy is growing up — although at least there wasn’t social media.

On fashion and her mom’s performance clothing
When I hold some of her extraordinary original beaded stage clothes, there is a particular Diana Ross smell, a mom smell, a certain perfume that I just love. And sometimes, when you open the garment bags and there’s makeup or sweat or other evidence of the clothes being worn — I find it really extraordinary. It’s an artifact. You’re seeing the fullness of a life that existed in that snapshot of a moment. That’s what clothing has always meant to me, and also probably why I became an actor.

[From In Style]

Almost every time we report on Tracee someone is surprised to learn that she’s Diana Ross’ daughter. It explains so much about her, how she’s unafraid, naturally dramatic and yet genuine. I loved the part of this interview where she said her mom’s performance clothing captures a moment in time, down to the smells. That’s what fashion is to me too, a look into the past, and a chance to make memories by being creative and playful. You do have to work at fitness and self care when you’re our age but there’s something delightful in that, especially when we’re doing it for ourselves.

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In such a tough political climate, representing an American family on @BlackishABC means everything to @TraceeEllisRoss. “When you can look at a story that is not in any way your story but see all the ways you identify, that’s art doing its job,” she says. “One of the things that’s been special about this time is that there’s a space for one’s own unique experiences in a way that there wasn’t always. The life promised by fairytales and movies is not relevant in the same way — the white picket fence blah blah blah — and there are more people telling stories that have different colors and flavors to them.” Full story by @RobertJHaskell at the link in bio. I Photographed by @HorstDiekgerdes; Styled by @KarlaWelchStylist

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SO CASUAL ~ @instylemagazine

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25 Responses to “Tracee Ellis Ross: ‘At 18 I might have woken up like this. At 45 I f-ing work for it’”

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  1. Tiffany says:

    I really recommend following her on IG. She is just fantastic. I love Tracee.

  2. TQ says:

    Love her! So glad to see such a wonderful profile & beautiful fashions. Go Tracee!!

  3. Jb says:

    “Self care is learning to say no” – need to hear that!

  4. Eleonor says:

    37 going 38 happily single and childless.
    I can related, people always imagine you as an old wrinkled depressed spinster, when they discover you’re happy, you work you travel they are sort of puzzled.

    • Snowflake says:

      I’m getting my tubes tied before the end of the year and i’m so excited. I told a couple of people, and their response is “but you haven’t had any kids.” Yes exactly and I dont want any. I’m 42 and happy. I think tubal litigation is free now under Obamacare. I checked with my Aetna insurance they said I dont have to pay anything, even for ancillary services. Yay!

      • sommolierlady says:

        Snowflake- I got my tubes tied when I turned 30. They wouldn’t do it before 30 because the law (in that state) was certain I’d find the right man and change my mind. I knew from the time I was little that I did not want kids. I have never regretted that decision. I’m 62 now and still (STILL) have friends who bemoan the face that I’ll die alone. I have a happy marriage and good friends. Do what makes you happy.

  5. Lightpurple says:

    Diana Ross needs to be the Super Bowl halftime show.

  6. bros says:

    great interview and great styling/photos. this is way more haute couture and avant garde than In Style normally gets into-She must have made them up their game!

  7. Sutcliffe says:

    Listen to her. Learn to say no. Learn to ask why. Nothing usettles and infuriates toxic people more. It is the most powerful, ridiculously shocking and awesome thing every time. It is THE way to find out who you should keep in your life and who you shouldn’t.

  8. me says:

    I HATE being asked “but don’t you want to get married?”, especially when the question comes out of the mouths of people in horrible marriages. Not everyone has to follow the same cookie cutter life. It’s especially hard when you belong to a culture that puts so much pressure on girls to get married and then of course have sons because you’re a failure if you don’t produce a son. Ughhh. F*ck them all !

    • Dara says:

      Wow – I never made that connection. You’re right, most of the people that judge my unmarried status are in semi-awful marriages themselves. Do you suppose it is a defense mechanism? Perhaps if they can convince themselves that even if they aren’t happy in their relationship being single would be worse.

    • clairej says:

      Yes! I am one of 4 girls and my Dad said he was always told ‘What a shame to have no boys’. To him we were exactly what he wanted and never felt like he had missed out. Bizarre.

      • CityGirl says:

        Oh that’s nice to hear. (Sincerely) I have only sisters and we always felt as if our father felt short changed in that area.

    • Prim says:

      It can help to say quite calmly to any question you find intrusive: “Why are you asking?”. I started doing this years ago and it’s great when you want to shift the focus away from yourself.

  9. isabelle says:

    Single and happy, in my 40s. constantly asked why are you not married, as if its your fault and never a choice. When I do date realize moe and more I really like being single. It is a myth women always want to commit and its the men who run away. I’ve found it opposite, men I want to get to know slowly get serious way too fast, want to make you their one and only and it freaks me out into wanting to remain single until the end. Its easier to remain single the older you get because it leads to an unexpected contentment and peace about it.

  10. Boxy Lady says:

    Her life is full of kids already. All of her siblings have children and her character on Blackish is the mother of five. I bet she’s “the cool aunt.”

    • stacy says:

      I am an Auntie and I worked from home the past nine months and helped watch my nieces and nephews every week. I get so much joy from them. I don’t think I could handle 9 months of pregnancy unforunately. Being an Aunt is my greatest joy, any relationship with a man comes second to being near and spending time with my nieces/nephews.

      I get lonely sometimes but I’d rather be home alone than home with someone and wishing I was alone ;-)

  11. AR says:

    And it pays off, she looks amazing

  12. VeronicaLodge says:

    She’s so cool. I relate to her smelling her mother’s clothes. My own wonderful mother wears a perfume that she only gets occasionally from France. It’s my whole childhood when I get a whiff.

  13. Glittersocks says:

    This is the first celebrity interview I’ve read were they actually discuss nepotism in a realistic light. Not “oh my 10 year old doesn’t know we’re famous!” or “I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at”. It’s so refreshing to read someone speaking with intelligence and grace instead of nonsense dribble.