Tracee Ellis Ross: My mom would wake up Wednesdays with a hot comb on the stove

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.”

[From Marie Claire]

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.

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21 Responses to “Tracee Ellis Ross: My mom would wake up Wednesdays with a hot comb on the stove”

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  1. Kh says:

    I love her. I love her joy and her candor. I love that her “this is my workout” Instagram posts show her working and sweating. Seriously what is it with workout videos and people who don’t sweat?!

    She is a gift.

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      When I was a cycling instructor I worked out so frequently I didn’t swear as much. And I don’t sweat much generally.

      I like her a lot, but those editorial outfits are… those pants!

  2. Enny says:

    She really is a striking woman, even the Queen Diva herself, Diana, struggles to be seen in a photo with Tracee.

    • Dierski says:

      I had that same thought – incredibly, aspirationally gorgeous, both of them, but I agree that Tracee is just so striking!

  3. Asking for a friend says:

    I stan this queen so hard! I love how effortlessly beautiful and confident she is in front of the camera on the IG post. Oya, I have been using her hair line since it came out. I love what it does for my curls! I do wish her leave in conditioner had a bit more oil or creamy moisture in it, but it’s still the best I’ve used and I’ve tried them all. They even have travel sizes so you can test them without a big commitment.

    • Ashley says:

      I’ve been using her hair care line since it came out as well and I love it! I stick with the shampoos and conditioners, and the edge control gel, but don’t use the other styling products—I have another kind that I’ve been using for a while that I love and work well for me. I also really like the tools in her line too. Have you tried adding some of the oils from her line to the leave in conditioner? It definitely helps!

      • Rmcgrudiva says:

        So glad y’all are talking about this because I’ve been wondering! Thank you!

  4. Joanna says:

    I Love the show Blackish. She is amazing

    • Asking for a friend says:

      Ah yes, I have the oils but have used them after the leave-in conditioner dries. I’ll combine them and see!

  5. Mely says:

    When I see Tracee’s name on a project – I watch it. She’s so talented. She’s got comedic timing in her bones! She makes it look so easy but really is good at her craft.

  6. Gina says:

    I loved Girlfriend too. It was a great show. Love her!

    • Betsy says:

      I’ve been rewatching it and it holds up but it’s a little too “time travel” as I call shows that are too good at bringing me back in time.

  7. Victoria says:

    I really like her.

  8. Watson says:

    Love her style, wit and humour. She is the real deal.

  9. Amelie says:

    I remember Tracee on Girlfriends, a show I found to be funny and hilarious though I feel like I’m one of the few white people who watched it. It was on TV when I was in middle/high school. I had no idea she was Diana Ross’s daughter back then, I just found her character super uptight and high maintenance as Joan who was such a contrast to her three other friends which was part of the premise. She was so memorable in that role and while I’m sure there’s some nepotism involved with her mom being who she is, she’s so talented that she 100% deserves her place in entertainment.

    I do find it interesting all of Diana Ross’s kids use their mother’s name legally/professionally and not their fathers’ (and yes I know not all of them share the same dad).

    • Oya says:

      She actually talks about this in the write. There was no nepotism for her. No one cared she was Diana’s daughter. She had to prove herself which caused more anxiety and depression for her when she started out.

  10. nicegirl says:

    I love Tracee too, everybody!! How could you not? She’s amazing. Gosh that part about pain band beauty really brings me back. My BFF and I used to say, in the early 90s, ‘pain before beauty’ we didn’t even get it. SMH

  11. Pusspants says:

    That outfit with the purple fuzzy top and triangular pants makes her look like a vulva. Love her anyway!

  12. Beth says:

    I adore her! She’s my fantasy BFF.

  13. Watcher says:

    How did I not know that Tracee was Diana Ross’s daughter? I’m shook.

    Tracee has the kind of style sense that I love – her instinct for striking shape, texture, volume, color is so inspirational. She’s got that effortless cool girl style, I love it.