Tracee Ellis Ross Had the 18th Birthday to End All Birthdays

Black-ish star and Emmy nominee Tracee Ellis Ross recalls the most epic birthday she ever had, when her mom Diana Ross took her to Paris. Supermodels, jets, a Vogue Brazil shoot, and Thierry Mugler ensued.

Released on 9/7/2017

Transcript

00:00
You're very kind to say
00:01
did I borrow clothes from my mother.
00:03
It sort of was more like stealing,
00:05
I'm not gonna lie.
00:06
I went into her room and looked out the window
00:08
and saw her car go down the driveway
00:10
and I marched myself right into her bathroom
00:14
and started (laughing)
00:15
taking clothes.
00:17
I had my arm full of clothing
00:20
and my mom walked back into the bathroom
00:22
(laughing)
00:23
and she was like, What are you doing?
00:24
I was like, I'm organizing your closet for you.
00:27
What are you doing?
00:28
She said, I forgot something.
00:30
And I was like, Oh! Can I help you find it?
00:32
(laughing) And still I call it shopping.
00:34
My mom has the most extraordinary taste,
00:36
top to bottom.
00:37
Whether it's the dishes or the clothes,
00:40
like T-shirts to gowns.
00:42
I have gloves I have stolen from my mom,
00:43
like leather gloves that you're like,
00:45
What is this? Where did you get this?
00:46
I call it shopping and to this day,
00:48
whenever I go over to my mom's
00:49
and I'm like, Should we go shopping?
00:51
[Interviewer] Oh, God.
00:52
Here's another story, this is a really good one.
00:54
My mom will say no often.
00:56
She will give me anything,
00:57
give us anything off of her back
00:58
but sometimes she's like For God's sakes,
01:00
leave my mirror alone.
01:03
Leaving for college, there was a rug,
01:06
this beautiful kilim rug that I wanted,
01:07
that was under our breakfast table
01:09
and I asked if I could take it for college
01:10
and my mom was like, No, it's under the breakfast table.
01:14
And the car was going down the driveway
01:15
and my mom comes running out.
01:17
I don't know how she got it from under the table so fast
01:20
but she came running out,
01:22
barefoot with the rug.
01:23
Take it, take the rug,
01:25
I love you!
01:26
Go off to college with the rug!
01:29
(laughing)
01:30
Perfect example of my mother.
01:31
That's not the Diana Ross people know.
01:34
That's my mommy. (laughing)
01:35
I was raised by a woman who lived out her dreams.
01:40
And one of the biggest things that I took from that
01:42
for myself that my mom didn't necessarily share with me
01:44
but I came up with is,
01:46
the best way to design my life around me
01:49
is actually to know who I am
01:51
and not live according to what other people think
01:54
I should be doing,
01:55
but have a curiosity,
01:57
sort of pushing up against the status quo to say,
01:59
Does that work for me?
02:00
Is that something I want?
02:02
I got to have the example of a person,
02:05
my parent,
02:06
really being her full self.
02:09
It's given me a lot in my life.
02:12
The first thing I auditioned for was an Infiniti commercial
02:15
(laughing)
02:16
and I got it!
02:18
Is that true or was it Spike Lee's Malcolm X?
02:21
It's a toss-up, I'm not sure which one.
02:24
I did not get Malcolm X.
02:26
Once I started working, I didn't stop working.
02:28
I kind of jumped off the cliff
02:30
and I did a show that was me.
02:33
It was like a House of Style but about TV
02:35
called The Dish.
02:36
I sang the song.
02:38
♫ I'm a TV girl
02:40
♫ I live in your TV and I'm a TV girl
02:42
(laughing) Something like that.
02:44
Kenya Barros wrote the character of Bow Johnson
02:47
with me in mind on Black-ish
02:49
but I know how this industry works
02:51
and I do not take that as a yes.
02:53
So, I auditioned.
02:55
Just because something's written for you
02:56
doesn't mean you're gonna get the part.
02:58
But I did, I got the part.
02:59
There's a lot of interesting things about the character
03:02
that I play on Black-ish.
03:04
It's not just that she has a point of view,
03:07
not just that she has a job,
03:08
not just that she's a mom,
03:09
that's she's all these things.
03:11
There's this idea that we are one thing or another.
03:14
I really strongly encourage people to remember
03:18
that we are way more than what we look like.
03:21
Well, the most epic birthday I had was my 18th birthday.
03:24
I flew to Paris with my mom on the Concorde
03:27
and also on the plane were Naomi Campbell,
03:30
Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelist
03:32
and I walked in the Thierry Mugler fashion show
03:34
which was the epic '90-'91 fashion show
03:38
with the butterflies.
03:40
Also, for my 18th birthday,
03:41
I met Azzedine Alaïa,
03:43
stayed with him for a couple of days
03:45
and was able to choose three looks,
03:47
top to bottom, from his personal archives.
03:50
I also was shot for Brazilian Vogue.
03:52
So my 18th birthday,
03:53
everything's been downhill since then.
03:54
(laughing)
03:55
I actually loved turning 40. I'm 44.
03:58
I think it's all the joy inside.
04:00
I don't know what 44 looks like
04:02
but this is what I look like at 44.
04:04
(laughing)
04:05
My real middle name is Joy.
04:06
My mom said I came out and it was like Joy.
04:09
My name is Tracee Joy Silberstein.
04:11
Go figure.