Tracee Ellis Ross - How "Black-ish" Starts a Dialogue with Viewers - Extended Interview

February 8, 2017 - Tracee Ellis Ross 02/08/2017 Views: 27,884

"Black-ish" star Tracee Ellis Ross reveals why she forget her Golden Globe in a public restroom and discusses her show's ability to transcend racial boundaries. (8:48)

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Please welcomeTracee Ellis Ross.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)

Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you. What is that?

-Hi.-♪ So excited

-♪ So excited -♪ We're so excited

-Oh, that's nice. Thanks, guys.-♪ 'Cause we all love you

♪ 'Cause we all watch you

♪ And you're so fancy. How are you?

I feel like I shouldsing right back at you,

♪ 'Cause you're so fancy,I'm so excited ♪

-♪ That I am here. -This is really fun.

Thank you very much forbeing here, first of all. And

-congratulations on your GoldenGlobe. -Thank you so much.

I mean, your s... acceptancespeech was phenomenal.

-(cheering, applause)-All of it

has just been,uh, a hell of a ride.

I remember when Kenya was still

-talking about Black-ish at the beginning. -Ah.

And you're hearing aboutthe story and it came out,

-people were like,"Can this go somewhere? -Mm.

-"Is there room for this on TV?-Mm.

You know, is there room fora black show?" And then people,

over time realized, it's like,"Oh, no, no--

it's not a black show.It's a show."

-It's a show. -And there areblack people acting in the show.

It's actually one of the thingsI love about the show, is that,

uh, and it feels a little bitrevolutionary in terms of...

We are not a family

-that happens to be black.-Yes.

-We are a black family. -Yes.

Um, so it's not what wetalk about in every episode.

Which is likewhen you're a human being.

I don't wake up...

Just have conversationsin the house...

-"How's your blackness doingthis morning, honey?" -Yes.

You know, I woke upthis morning, and I was black.

-Oh, blackness. Oh. -And thenI, yes, black, black, black.

Mmm-mmm.You see the weather outside?

Black-black,black, black, black.

I know. look at that.How's your black coffee?

Oh... black.

Um... It-it... it's, uh,it's a story and, uh, acting

that you-you deservethe accolades for.

But is this true,did you really lose...

-your award? -Oh, my God.I lost my award the night

of the awards.Oh, my God. Okay, listen,

I'm gonna try and tell youthe abridged version,

but, um, here it goes, okay?

So, I wanted to makea costume change,

and I wanted to havean after-party dress,

-because I figured that'sthe way it goes. You... -Yes.

You know, even if I didn't win,I was like, "Yes,

you do the dressand then the after-party dress."

So I didn't know where I wasgonna change into the dress.

-It's not so easy to get outof the Hilton. -Uh-huh.

So I was like, "No problem. I'llchange in a public bathroom.

Whatever. It's fine." So I...(laughs)

-So-so I found the handicappedstall, -I'm with you.

the large stall in the bathroom,inside the ballroom.

My friend that was with me wentout, she gave our two tickets

to my stylist,who came in with the dress.

And I was in the handicappedstall waiting, um, naked,

'cause I had been removedfrom my dress.

And so my dress was layingon the floor.

I couldn't get it backon myself, and I was naked,

waiting, with no signaland no service on my phone,

for 23 minutes. I didn't knowif they were gonna come in.

So they finally come and knockand they figured out

which stall I'm in. They knock.

And at that moment, I heara woman go, "No, no, no, girls!

I'm next!This is the handicapped stall!"

And I was like, "Oh, my God."And I'm such a caretaker

at heart. I was like, "Oh,my God." So I started to panic,

because I was naked and I waslike, "So come in quickly."

And by the time we changed mequickly, I left the stall,

and I guess I left the awardin the stall on the floor.

So I had finished changing,leave the ballroom,

and walk out of the doubledoors. And you know that feeling

-when you get to the airportand you think to yourself, -Yes.

"Did I forget something? Andhopefully it's my toothbrush,

'cause I can get another"? Well,I realized it was my passport,

and I had lost my Globe.And they gave it to security,

and it took them foreverto get it...

-It was, like, 23 minutes...-Oh, but you got it back?

-I got it back.-Oh, you got it back.

-Oh, wow. Oh, wow.-(cheering and applause)

It was a lot of sweating.It was a lot of sweating.

-I-I have it now. Yeah. -Oh.I thought what you're telling me

is somebody who was usingthe bathroom after you

now has a Golden Globe Award.And she's sitting there,

and she's like,"She wasn't even handicapped!

Karma, bitch! It's karma!"

I thought that's what happened.

All I kept thinkingto myself was,

I've changed my clothes,I've changed my hair.

No one is gonna believe thatit was me that won the award.

-That's... -They were like,"Yeah, yeah,

-you want your globe back."-You know, I think

everyone will remember youwinning the award...

-I don't know. -...becauseit had been, what, 35 years...

-Yeah. -...since a black actresshad won that award.

-Yeah. -Um... was...?-(applause and cheering)

I think that was part of...

That was really part of whatI was saying in that moment.

-Yes. -Because I felt that, yes,

personally for me, it was abeautiful and exciting moment,

but I think that this wasa moment for all of us.

Um, and that was reallywhat that moment was about.

-Debbie Allen, in 1983,I believe for Fame. -Wow. Wow.

Yeah, and I think, also,the last time

a black woman was nominatedin that category.

What's also interesting is,and I'm surprised

that a lot of people... like,everyone doesn't know this.

-Mm. -But you are the daughterof Diana Ross.

-Yes. -And...-(applause and cheering)

-I was told that this week.-You also found out?

-Yeah. It's been...-Oh. So, I mean...

This has been a funcouple of weeks.

You were as shocked as I was.

I won a Golden Globe, I foundout my mom is Diana Ross.

-It's-it's amazing. -So...-(laughter)

-I'm black. This is incredible.-(laughter, applause & cheering)

So, so, so...

-But your mom also wona Golden Globe. -44 years ago.

-Yeah.-And I'm 44.

-(audience gasping)-Yeah. -That's-that's magic.

-Isn't that magic?-That is magic.

And do you know that I did notknow that going into the awards?

I actually found outthe next day on social media.

-Wow. -Someone posted, and I waslike, "Wait. Is that true?"

-(laughter) -Which is crazy.-That really is crazy.

Let's talk a little bitabout the show...

-Okay.-...before you leave us.

I think what I've truly enjoyedabout Black-ish

is not just the fact thatit's funny, and it's family,

and it's stories,and it's entertaining,

-but also howyou tackle issues. -Mm.

You know, you lookat how the show has evolved.

You know, it startedin the place where it started,

but now it has become a show

that talks about what Americansare experiencing here today.

-Yeah. -And I know it eventranslates to other places.

-Like, in South Africa, Black-ish is huge... -Yeah.

-...because it just talksabout an experience. -Yeah.

And everyone in the family deals

-with their experiencesdifferently. -Mm-hmm.

Your character connected with me

in an episodeabout being biracial.

-Yeah.-You know? Which...

which is really interesting,because "black" covers so much.

-Yeah.-As a blanket.

But... being a biracial personmeans you are...

tackling so manydifferent things in addition.

-Mm. -You know,identity is often a question.

When you were makingthat episode,

what were you...what were you trying to convey?

What were you tryingto get across

-to all of us who were watching?-Well, you know,

I'll say one thingthat was really interesting.

I am mixed, and I have actuallynever played a mixed person.

So this is a really funexperience for me.

And although Bow's experienceof being mixed

is different than mine,

I'm still very pleased to beputting that experience

-Yeah.-on the map and on television.

Um, and as we have discoveredand are exploring and unpacking

in... on the show, blackis not a monolithic experience.

So that looks differentfor all of us.

But there is a very unique,as you know,

-different from whereyou're from, -Mm-hmm.

but still a unique experienceas an individual,

um, being mixed, and I thinkwhat I wanted to get across

is that there is no one way,also, to be mixed.

-Oh, wow. -You know?I think that there is

a different experiencefor each of us

in what that feels like, um,

and I also loved, for me,that moment...

There was a cartoon in it--and I love when we do that--

that kind of oversimplifies

but also gives the historicalcontext that you need

to kind of understandthe evolution

of where...mixed people have been...

-how mixed people have been seenin this country. -Yes.

Um, starting back from slavery,

and there's so many differentsort of versions of that.

And so, um, I thoughtwe laid out the history...

history of it well,and then also gave the intimate

and personal experienceof what Bow is going through

with her father, 'cause herfather is the white of her mix.

-Yeah. It's, uh... it's a story-Yeah.

that seems to connectevery single week...

You know, the conversationabout Republicans,

the conversation about whodo you blame after an election.

-The conversations that, really,human beings are having -Mm-hmm.

as opposed to a lot of the time,what you see,

-the fighting on top.-Yeah, and because we have

-all the generations,you get to see -Yes.

sort of the differentperspectives

of how that has changedthrough generations--

um, Pops having very limited,stereotypical views at times,

Ruby being insane.

Um... (laughs)


Um... et cetera.

So yeah, I thinkwe are handling things, um,

and also not trying to givean answer to any question.

Sort of posing, um,a lot of the conversation,

to drop the seeds infor people to have dialogues

about these things,which I think is really

-what we need to be doing now.-Asking the questions...

Asking the questions,having a curiosity

that is met with compassion,so that we can all be

really... (sighs)

working through. Hmm...

(laughs)Working through it together.

-Yes. Kumbaya.-I know exactly what you mean.

-(laughter) -Thank youso much for being here.

-And thank you for being black.-(laughter, cheering)

I appreciate this.Thank you very much.

New episodes of Black-ish air Wednesdays at 9:30,

8:30 Central on ABC.

Tracee Ellis Ross, everybody.