We love Tracee Ellis Ross for so many reasons — she’s beautiful (inside and out), she’s hilarious, damn good at her job, and so humble (even though she’s a clear vet in the entertainment industry who doesn’t have to be humble about A THING, you hear me?!). This week, the beauty blew us away with gorgeous photos for the Essence October Hair Issue, quite literally demonstrating that Black hair is chameleon-like. Transformative. NOT any one thing. Inside the issue, Tracee talks creating the product to match that level of beauty, overcoming the insecurities she grew up with, Trump, and much more.
Here are 7 things we learned about the icon living.
1. She wondered if she’d ever amount to anything, outside of her mom’s fame.
“I remember the first time I was on ESSENCE. I was on it with my mom. I thought, Okay, dreams are real, and they can happen. Still, as Diana Ross’s child, you wonder whether you will become anything in your own right. So it was a really big moment to go from being on the cover of ESSENCE with my mom to having my own cover. Now I’ve had three on my own and one with my mom. That’s crazy! I feel a little humbled by that, knowing I have truly filled my own shoes—and maybe even had to buy a couple of new pairs at times. There are people who have no idea that my worth is not based on my mom or what I look like. There’s a wholeness to me that I cherish.”
2. Like us, mainstream media made her feel insecure about growing up Black.
“…We are a community of sisters told by mainstream society that we are not the thing, and I know I’ve had to make my own way through that messaging. I look out and see other sisters and think, I see you. Do you see me? Because I see you. That was really what I felt in that moment of my Golden Globes win. It was lovely for that light to shine in my direction, but we have been shining out here. I don’t know about you, but I see women and Black women being the leads all over the place. In so many unique and extraordinary ways we’re changing the script, curating our own lives, handling so much with grace and humanity and joy.”
3. She thought Hollywood would show WAY more love after her role in Girlfriends.
“There were moments of that. I really thought when Girlfriends finished that the pearly gates of Hollywood were going to open, and they were going to be like, ‘What movie would you like, ma’am? Please, choose whatever.’ That did not happen. It forced my soul to continue to search for what it longed for, dreamed of, wanted to be. It allowed me to continue to create an unbreakable, unshakable foundation for my life, a relationship with myself that is based not on what everybody outside is saying but on what I believe is good and right.”
4. She’s not just emotionally open on social media. She’s that way in real life, too.
“I cry when I need to cry. I sleep when I need to. I get down on my knees. I meditate. I have friends who are in my life for everything and people who are steps ahead of me who I go to for mentorship. I share my vulnerability, my shame, my hurt, my loneliness. And texting is really great, because you can privately share the darkest things while you’re sitting on a set, and you can get that support right back into your phone without anyone ever having to hear you.”
5. Like us, she is troubled by the current state of America.
“There is a war that is happening, a fight for control over women’s bodies. Children in cages. Concentration camps in our country, right now. It keeps me up at night.”
6. It took her twenty years to realize her hair care entrepreneurial dreams – so, don’t give up.
“…About 20 years ago, I went into a salon and a guy was like, ‘Oh, my God. Do you know how many people come in here with a magazine picture of your hair and tell me that’s what they want? I tell them I’m going to have to sew it in.’ And I was like, ‘No, no, no. It’s not about sewing it in—it’s about having the right products.’ We have to have the right products to nourish, hydrate, moisturize and soothe our hair. With the right products and tools, our hair can do anything. That’s when I starting thinking about the idea of creating my own product line.”
“Twenty years of dreaming,” she said earlier on in the cover story. “Ten years of trying, strategizing and asking. Five years of continuing to learn. Four years with chemists, and 74 samples later, we’re here. I am launching a haircare line for curly, coily and tight, textured hair to empower people and meet the unmet needs of our community at a price point we can afford, because we know that we need a lot of product in all this hair.”
7. Self-love was a journey for her. It was Nina Simone who helped Tracee realize Black is beautiful.
“It took me way longer than I wish it had. I’d catch glimpses of people who saw beauty in ways I had missed because of the blinders society gave me. Then one day I was watching a Nina Simone documentary and I thought: Wait. It should be her name next to the word ‘beauty.’ Why was I sold the wrong vision? My heart knows that’s beauty.”
CLICK HERE to get into Tracee’s full interview. As already demonstrated, it does not disappoint.