Tracee is best known as Dr. Rainbow Johnson in Black-ish, and she had a great mom to take inspiration from for the role.
Some mother-daughter relationships are fraught with conflict and some are exactly how we hope them to be: loving and positive. Diana Ross and her relationship with her daughter Tracee Ellis Ross, 48, whom she shares with Robert Ellis Silberstein, is the latter.
Tracee is best known as Dr. Rainbow Johnson in Black-ish, and she had a great mom to take inspiration from for the role. She was born in 1972 when Ross was trying to establish her solo career. Ross had ventured into acting and had many other projects lined up. However, the ex-Supreme member was very much a hands-on mom, according to Nicki Swift.
She said that her mother managed both work and her home life with her "amazing work ethic." Tracee told GoodHousekeeping, "To her, 'on time' is 10 minutes early. I've never heard her complain. She was busy going to the supermarket, waking us up for school, sitting with us during dinner, recording while we were sleeping, never leaving for longer than a week so she wouldn't be away from us." She added, "Whether she was about to go onstage or busy having a meeting, she never responded with, 'Not now, I don't have time.'"
Ross's career has seen many highs and all of her five kids, Rhonda, Tracee, Chudney, Evan, and Ross, followed her footsteps to join the entertainment industry. "I had an extraordinary role model in my mother. She supported me in moments of disappointment and supposed failure from a standpoint of empowerment, not victimhood … partly because of that, I was able to design the life I wanted to have and feel empowered to be the woman I want to be," said Tracee.
She told W magazine that Ross gave them "space and the courage to live the lives" that they wanted to be living and to have "time to dream and conjure up the life" that they wanted to live. As a result, the former Girlfriends star has learned not to get hung up on other people's opinions and possesses a "curiosity that pushes up against the status quo." Tracee added, "I got to have the example of my parent really being her full self. It's given me a lot in my life."
There are other ways in which she followed her mom. Nobody can deny Ross's incredible fashion sense, and neither could Tracee, which is why she used to borrow her mom's clothes whenever she wasn't looking.
"It sort of was more like stealing. I'm not going to lie. She would leave the house and I went in her room and looked out the window and saw her car go down the driveway, and I marched myself right into her bathroom and started taking clothes," she said. The 48-year-old added, "What I liked to do is put them in my closet and live with them as if they were mine."
While Tracee seems like a confident actress now, there was a time when she was shy and living in her mom's shadow. When she was in a boarding school and was asked to sing at a school production, she asked permission from the headmistress to sit it out. "I said I thought it was unfair I was being asked to sing," she told Daily Mail. However, at age 47, she sang for the movie The High Note, and her mom loved it.
When Ross heard her sing, they held hands and the I'm Coming Out singer cried. She told Tracee, "It was a special moment." Tracee said in an interview during Oprah Winfrey's 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour, "She pushed my arm and then she turned to me and her face was covered in tears. And she said, 'Finally."'
The 48-year-old is just as supportive of her mom. They also have more in common, when it comes to their work. In 2017, she followed in her mom's footsteps by hosting the American Music Awards. "We're making history! We are the first mother and daughter who have ever hosted the American Music Awards. I mean, she did it twice, but there's always next year," she said during her opening monologue.
Even as a woman in her 40s, Tracee calls her mom first whenever she has good news. She called her mom when she learned she'd been recognized by the Emmy Awards for the very first time and when she was nominated by Golden Globe awards as well. "I opened my front door and I don't know where I thought I was trying to go, so I closed the door and I called my mom. She was really cute and we screamed for a little bit," Tracee said, according to People.
Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by (L) Mike Stephens (R) Dia Dipasupil