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