Tracee Ellis Ross is a boss. She has a starring role on Black-ish, co-produces the spinoff show Mixed-ish and started a hair care line in 2019. Besides being extremely fashionable, funny, quirky, and lovable, Tracee often stands up for women and BIPOC and is honest about her life struggles. In a Marie Claire profile, Tracee opens up about her hair love (as she often does), her struggle with finding her place outside the long shadow of her mother and her belief in creating a compassionate work place. She also mentioned that women are spoon-fed an ideal of marriage and family by society. Below are a few highlights from Marie Claire:
On her management style:
She’s determined to lead with a focus on compassion, empathy, and joy. No dictatorial diva antics will be occurring in her C-suite. “I don’t know many people who thrive when they’re yelled at,” Ross says. “I shop the most when I feel good. I’m not sure why we have a marketing system that is based on shaming people. I don’t get it. When I feel small, I don’t want to do shit.”
On her hair love journey:
Ross spent her formative years wrestling with her untamed curls, attempting to “beat my hair into submission,” she says. Weekly salon trips and chemical straighteners were par for the course. To combat frizz, she says, “my mom would wake up on Wednesday morning with the hot comb on the stove and try and get my edges straight.” The image of her megastar mother, Diana Ross, one of history’s most glamorous women, hovering at a stove with a hot comb in hand tickles me. I’m also sadly reminded that more than a few of the beauty rituals in our community have been inextricably linked to pain. Ross believes a great deal of that pain comes from Black people being forced to “fit into a standard that does not have space for us.” She quotes poet Audre Lorde (“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence; it is self-preservation and is an act of political warfare”), then makes her own powerful declaration: “Learning to love my hair in a world that doesn’t mirror that celebration has been a form of both resistance and the claiming of my identity, my selfhood, my legacy, my ancestral lines, the history that I come from.”
On marriage and family:
“I feel the sexiest I’ve ever felt; it’s going to waste in the pandemic,” she jokingly laments before bursting into a suggestive body roll. Because of her unconventional upbringing, I ask if she once longed for amore traditional life—the picket fence, the husband, 2.5 kids. “Well, how could you not? Our society spoon-feeds it to you. I used to put myself to sleep dreaming of my wedding,” she says. “And I would still love all of that, but what am I going to do, just sit around waiting? Shut up. I’ve got so many things to do.”
I have loved Tracee since Girlfriends and I was mad when they canceled the show without notice in 2008. I thought Tracee was phenomenal as Joan and I identified with her character. It has been great to watch Tracee grow into the mainstream powerhouse she’s become over the last decade. I am sure Tracee, like Tallulah Willis, has had to accept her own light and talents despite being compared to her very famous and glamorous mother. And I am so glad she did.
I related to the shared trauma around Black hair. Many Black women have gone on a journey to love their hair whether they straightened it, loc’d it, braided it, or let it be wild and coily. I still sometimes flinch when I see a picture of a hot comb. I have not tried Tracee’s products yet but I am hoping to this summer. And I really do look forward to seeing what Tracee does post Black-ish and Mixed-ish. I would love to see Tracee in some more movies and I will continue to give Tracee her flowers. Also, she’s so pretty.