HFPA in Conversation: Tracee Ellis Ross, Going After Her Dreams

by Kirpi Uimonen Ballesteros August 26, 2020
Actress Tracee Ellis Ross, Golden Globe winner

magnus sundholm/hfpa

Actress, producer, writer, director, entrepreneur, and activist Tracee Ellis Ross is following her mother’s footsteps on screen. In her latest feel-good movie, The High Note, she plays R&B singer Grace Davis. “In doing the press once the movie came out I realized how much of a sort of connection there was between Grace Davis and my mom but it really didn't dawn on me while the movie was happening and while I was working because I didn't see her as the same as my mother,” Ross told HFPA journalist Anke Hofmann.

Ross wasn't trying to recreate her mother, Diana Ross. “She's an iconic singer who has decades of hits but it's not like it's a biopic in any way so it just didn't dawn on me that there was going to be so much conversation about sort of stepping into my mom's high heels as I jokingly put it.”

She loved that the movie is about two women on parallel paths that weren't against each other. Its message is that it's never too late to go for your dreams and become more yourself. “The story was about their own inner lives and their dreams and their fears and their insecurity and then also that I got to sing. I mean, that was really, really exciting. I sang all through growing up and I sang the opening song to one of my first TV shows I did. So it wasn't on purpose that I kind of pushed it away but I'd never been in a studio and it was something I always wanted to do and the longer you wait the scarier it gets.”

She also felt freedom and joy while facing the challenge. “To walk through a fear and towards a dream and to do it in such a very big and public way was great and terrifying. I am not going to lie. It was terrifying but then to make it out on the other side and to discover that I could sing and I love being on stage with a microphone. That was a great and fun experience.”

Listen to the podcast and hear how she calls her mother, what kind of cook her mom is and how her mother influenced her; why the TV show Girlfriends was important for her; when she realized she could sing; whether she wants to record in the future; how was the night she won a Golden Globe; how the TV series Black-ish has been both ahead and behind of its time in terms of television; how to restore justice with a foundation that wasn’t built on equality for everyone and how she and her company Pattern Beauty try to create a better future; how she found self-acceptance; why she wishes her dreams would have been different when she was a child; what kind of goals she has now; what joy means to her; how good is being by herself; how she has been spending her time during the Covid-19 pandemic; what is her superpower; and why she wanted to co-create TV show Mixed-ish.