Anthony Anderson: Tracee Ellis Ross didn’t like me for 10 years

The final season of Black-ish begins tonight with special guest star, forever First Lady Michelle Obama. Even though I got angry over one of Rainbow’s storylines, I really like Black-ish, especially the cast. Anthony Anderson and his TV wife Tracee Ellis Ross work well together as partners. Their on-screen chemistry carries off the screen as well. I remember when he interviewed her for her hair line, his enthusiasm for her to succeed came through. So I was surprised to learn that, prior to the show, Tracee was a not a fan of Anthony’s. After making a rude joke at Tracee’s expense, she wrote Anthony off for almost 10 years. And like most men, he was clueless to it. However, working together on Black-ish righted his decade old wrong.

Why he uses the #justakidfrmcompton hashtag: Being just a kid from Compton shaped me into the man that I am today. I grew up in Compton in the time of crack cocaine, the height of gang violence, drive-by shootings, Crips and Bloods and all of that. Maneuvering through those minefields where I lived, walking behind the enemy lines just to get to school, taught me about survival. It taught me how to think quick on my feet, it taught me about loyalty and it taught me about family. I was just a kid from Compton who had a dream. I go back to the schools that I went to as a child and I talk to them. I’m here to let you know that with hard work, perseverance, dedication, you too can achieve whatever it is you want to achieve in life, as long as you put the work in. I’m a living testament to that right now.

Why Tracee Ellis Ross didn’t like him: I knew Tracee prior to Black-ish. We laugh about this now, but Tracee didn’t like me for maybe 10 years! We hosted the Vibe Awards [in 2005]. As we were walking onto the stage there was a loud sound over the speaker, and I said, “Tracee? Did you fart?” The audience loved it, but what I did not know is how offended Tracee was by that comment. I remember I did an episode of her show Reed Between the Lines [in 2011] and all of my scenes were with Tracee. And when it came time for my close-up, she would leave the stage like, “The stage is Anthony’s!” I thought Tracee was just showing me the utmost respect as an actor. I was like “Oh, my God, I’ve never been treated like this before! I was a guest star on her show, and she was just giving me her set!” Well, looking back on it, she didn’t want to be around me! She really didn’t start liking me until we were midway through the first season of Black-ish, and so we laugh about it now. But today, there’s nothing that I would not do for Tracee. We work the same, we learn the same, we are there for one another, and we have the ability to work with such fearlessness when we’re together, because we know that we will never allow the other to fall.

On going to the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts: I was in an acting conservatory on the weekends, and there was a post on the bulletin board that said “The Fame school is coming to Los Angeles!” I did a self-tape audition—I did a Shakespearean piece, and I can’t remember what other monologue I did and sometime later, I got a letter in the mail saying, “Congratulations, you have been accepted into the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts!” This is where I needed to be. I was in the inaugural class. I remember being on the news. And the faculty said, “This is not the Fame school that you see on television. You will not be dancing on tabletops, you will not be dancing in the street, you will not be dancing on cars.” And we all took note of that, and as soon as the news cameras left, we went out to the parking lot and danced on tables, we danced on cars, we danced in the street. And I’ll never forget that moment.

[From Parade]

If Anthony didn’t realize Tracee was offended in 2005 and was still clueless to Tracee’s feeling about him six years later, he did not know her well enough to make that joke, before a crowd, in the first place. I don’t mind being made fun of in certain situations, but I have buttons I don’t want pushed, especially in front of people I don’t know. So, I understand Tracee’s animosity towards Anthony. It doesn’t surprise me that she was the bigger person to agree to work with him again. I don’t read where he apologized to her, but whatever they did to clear the air, I don’t doubt their bond. And I’m sure Anthony will not be disrespecting Ms. Ross in the future, no matter how big a laugh he might get. He was probably set straight by his real-life wife, Alvina Stewart. He met her in 1989 at Howard University and they have been together ever since. I don’t know much about them as a couple, but in the gossip world, that’s a good thing. So it sounds like Anthony surrounds himself with strong women, including his mom, Doris, with whom he co-hosts House Haunters.

That story about the kids dancing after the cameras left at the LA Arts school reads like a scripted scene. It gave me goosebumps. I hope Anthony recreates that in one of his projects. Imagine the optimism and excitement that was happening in that moment. I’m really glad Anthony is returning to his roots in Compton to help kids realize their dreams He and Kenya Barris, Black-ish’s creator who is from Inglewood, both support the communities they grew up in. Anthony talked about how he and Kenya hope to show first generation success in a realistic way with Black-ish. He told Parade he feels they accomplished that. That’s the best note for a show to go out on.



Photo credit: Instagram, Backgrid and Avalon Red

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28 Responses to “Anthony Anderson: Tracee Ellis Ross didn’t like me for 10 years”

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  1. Arizona says:

    I dunno, I’m really sensitive to people making jokes about me and while I love Tracee, this seems like a major overreaction on her part lol. it’s not really a rude joke about her?? I guess I was expecting something a bit more pointed in order be mad about it for a decade. unless she just didn’t really like his personality in general.

    • BlueSky says:

      He made the joke at her expense while hosting an awards show that was being televised and was in front of live audience so yeah, I would be pissed too. Maybe she felt he was trying to humiliate her or he was already rubbing her the wrong way and that joke just made he even angrier.

    • North of Boston says:

      People making jokes about someone they don’t know, to their face? Bathroom jokes? Sure, maaaybe someone would be okay with it? But making jokes about someone you don’t really know, who is getting established in their career, making jokes at the expense of a woman when you’re a man, as you are appearing together for the first time in public, in front of an audience, also on national television at a relatively high profile (for the two of you at the time) event?

      I can totally see not appreciating the person who went for a cheap laugh that could have, at best, thrown me out of the headset I needed to be in while walking out on stage for the first time that night, to, you know, DO MY JOB in front of peers and colleagues and potential future bosses and fans, and at worst, meant that The.One.Thing. people remember about me from that night or me in general if they weren’t familiar with me and my work is a stupid fart joke. Whether I’d just be annoyed, or decide from the outset that this guy was some combination of a juvenile idiot and selfish as a performer (going for a cheap laugh at someone else’s expense), IDK. But I would not be clamoring to work with the guy again any time soon.

      He could have gone for a similar joke about himself “oh, sorry Tracee, I had beans for lunch” without dragging her image.

      • Debbie says:

        @North of Boston: I was going to say the same thing, but you articulated it so well. Ultimately, this was a work event, and presentation does count, so unless you know someone very well (and even then…) you don’t spring that on them in front of a crowd without knowing they will be okay with your telling a joke AT THEIR EXPENSE. I actually like Anthony Anderson, I remember him from one of the later “Saved By The Bell” iterations, but even in retelling the story above, he doesn’t add that he apologized, and understands how he put his foot in it. To me, it shows that Tracee Ellis Ross took the high road. He’s lucky, and I’m glad they worked it out.

    • pixyloo says:

      I agree with you @Arizona! Bit over sensitive for something that is obvz is a joke. I would be happy a joke was made so we could both have bit of a laugh on stage with everyone! But yeah, he must have given her general a**hole vibes, she seems too cool for that.

  2. popsicle_vp says:

    Aww! I love both their energies and their chemistry looks effortlessly. I am going sincerely miss this show. The first season I thought the writing was mediocre. But they really stepped it up and it is now one of my favorite shows.

  3. BlueSky says:

    I remember TER talked about this on THR awards chatter podcast. She said she thought he was an a-hole. She didn’t go into specifics about what he did but I’m glad he talked about it. Men are clueless so I’m not surprised he didn’t pick up on any of this, but kudos to her for keeping it professional.

    • North of Boston says:

      It’s a broad brush, but IME sometimes “men are clueless” because they are so focused on their own perspective and own needs, or so inter-personally lazy, that they don’t bother to even consider someone else’s perspective or needs or wishes or any of the damage that their behavior may be causing.

      Or in a male-female dynamic specifically, they come at a professional job like James Franco, just expecting the woman next to them to be Anne Hathaway, an to be their straight-man or to work twice as hard to keep things going, to keep up the professional end of the job that needs doing while they riff and go for attention, laughs or whatever other itch of theirs they want to scratch.

  4. livealot says:

    He and his wife almost divorced. Glad they worked through it and I love this show.

  5. Gabriella says:

    Anthony Anderson has been accused of sexual assault twice.

    • Persephone says:

      Thank you!!! I was wondering if anyone remembered that.

    • manda says:

      I think it was three times. Like, very serious rape allegations. I didn’t remember the details but always remembered that I had bad feelings about him, so I had to google it.

      • Bella says:

        I remember that his assault allegations made the main stream press back in the day and I was surprised that he had a network show. I have never watched the show because of that reason and I never will.

    • Acal says:

      3 times. I was hoping traci hated him for a decade because of that.

      He cheats on his wife constantly.

    • Jess says:

      Yes. I’m glad you mentioned that. I loved Blackish but ever since I became aware of those allegations I haven’t been able to watch the show. It’s amazing how he hasn’t had to address those at all. I adore TER so much and she shouldn’t have to deal with his problems but it is a shame that she’s worked with him through all these years despite these serious allegations.

    • DiegoInSF says:

      Thank you! I was like- did I dream that? How is he still on the show and successful. Disgusting!

    • LaUnicaAngelina says:

      That’s the first thing I think about when I see his name and it seems like no one else does.

    • Emma says:

      That’s horrific! Not him too. I enjoyed their show so much.

      It’s just coming up about so, so many men. It’s getting to the point where I almost wonder if fewer men haven’t raped someone than have. Especially with under-reporting and the way the system is stacked against women.

    • HeyJude says:

      Yup, I assumed that’s what this article was about. I’ve always wondered how someone as outspoken and feminist as Tracee dealt with working with him, as I assumed it would be a huge issue between the too.

      She was very outspoken during the height of Me Too and subsequently working with Time’s Up about how f’ed everything is.

    • Ange says:

      Wow, I didn’t know that. Although I was always suspicious of him after watching Blackish for a while. The show claimed to be all about empowering black people then he went and put Chris Brown on. It showed where the priorities really were.

  6. Rai says:

    Blackish is the best network sitcom on television and I will be extremely sad when it signs off…

  7. jferber says:

    Gabriella, I was going to mention that too.

  8. AmelieOriginal says:

    I’m glad Tracee was able to be the bigger person and move past her former feelings to work with Anthony. I’d be pretty pissed by the joke too if I were in her shoes. I get the sense he can be a lot. He and his wife previously filed for divorce some years back but then called it off. He’s also had multiple sexual assault allegations against him that have not gone forward due to lack of proof I think. I wouldn’t be surprised once Blackish is off the air if more women come forward.

  9. Jill Hays says:

    “…with hard work, perseverance, dedication, you too can achieve whatever it is you want to achieve in life, as long as you put the work in.” While I admire his efforts, he was really really lucky to get where he is in life. He had opportunities at some stage. The majority from poor neighborhoods will never get those breaks. It requires resources, education, long-term initiatives and networks to really help these kids, not more of these American Dream, you can be what you want with hard work sentiments. I wish he would be more honest to those kids. Without opportunities, life is difficult.

    • Bex says:

      He’s a Black man in America. Of course he has to work hard, twice as hard even and he’s never hidden the support he received (public school performance arts magnet program, college scholarships), but even with the support, you still have to do the work to keep your place.

    • aftershocks says:

      ^^ Yes @Jill Hays and @Bex, all of this, plus you have to truly know what you want and have some idea of how to achieve it, along with getting some lucky breaks too, at the right time! Particularly, I think in show business, it’s not a slam dunk to make it big. Networking, timing, luck and hard work, plus everything else combined! And even then, in show business, there are no guarantees or easy grabs for everyone.

      I’ve seen a few episodes of Black-ish in the early seasons. Maybe I will be able to find all the seasons to watch in their entirety someday in syndication or video rental.

      I remember wanting to see Sex and the City in its heyday, but I didn’t have HBO. Much later, after the show had ended, I got to view it all over several weeks via video rental. It felt like the deep dive gulp binge of watching that particular show in that fashion was the best way to see it. Suddenly, I was able to understand why the show and Sarah Jessica Parker, along with the rest of the cast, had become so popular when the show initially aired on HBO. It was extremely well-written, produced and acted.

  10. detritus says:

    Love Tracee.
    And if I’m honest, I also would be mildly annoyed to mad at the adult man who made me the butt of a fart joke for public laughs.