Tracee Ellis Ross may have been born into Hollywood royalty thanks to her legendary mother Diana Ross, but these days the Black-ish star is embracing a new chapter all on her own.
In the November cover story for Harper’s Bazaar, Ross spoke candidly about her journey toward self-discovery and acceptance, both of which have gotten clearer with age.
“Learning to be me has been a really long journey,” Ross said. “I tried being small and feeling things in little ways. It took me a long time to get to know myself, to accept myself, and even on some days to really like and love myself. And then it took me a whole other load of years to have the courage to actually live in the world as that person. And it’s been trial and error, chewing on ground glass. It’s been a hard-earned journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. I mean, I came out of the womb like this. I literally think I was like, ‘Woo-hoo! I’m here. What have you got? Let’s go!’”
The actress, who shot to fame on the hit show Girlfriends, adds that while “going through perimenopause,” which is “really frying my brain,” she’s refusing to see the experience as something lost, but rather, something gained.
“It is the most glorious invitation into a new season and chapter in my life,” she said of approaching menopause, yet “there’s no information about it. There’s shame talking about it.”
“My friend [Michaela Angela Davis] told me, ‘This is an invitation into your wild-woman phase, to being a moon driver. You have spent years being driven by the moon, and now you are going to drive the moon.’ And I was like, ‘That’s right. I’m about to drive the moon,’” she continued. “Another friend was like, ‘Your womb will no longer have to be thinking it’s going to make a baby. You can fill it with all your creativity.’ And I was like, ‘That’s right. I’m going to make babies of projects and things out of my womb.’”
“I’m the sexiest I’ve ever been,” she added. “And when I say that, I mean I feel the most myself.”
Speaking her mind and defending what she believes in never came easy. “There were a lot of instances on Girlfriends when I used my voice powerfully and it wasn’t well received,” she explained. “People don’t want to be told that what they’re doing might not be the right thing or might not make everybody happy. But I am somebody who — I don’t just go along to get along.”
However, Ross said she “found” her voice and “really started using it during Black-ish,” which is now filming its eighth and final season. “I’m ready for it to be the end, and also it’s going to be really hard,” she noted. “I mean, eight years we’ve watched the TV kids grow up. We’ve watched Anthony’s beard do tons of different things.”
These days, Ross doesn’t want to be remembers as “the poster child for being single,” something she says people often tell her, but rather, the “poster child for living my life on my terms.”
“There’s a version of that for everyone,” she explained. “I don’t live my life for other people. I just totally live it for me. This is something that has really solidified itself into an unbreakable, unshakable foundation in the last four or five years.”
That level of confidence has always been inside her, she added. It’s only now that she’s finally starting to embrace it on her terms.
“I have many a memory of really genuinely thinking that who I am was wrong. Just wrong,” she explained. “And that I had to learn to be somebody else or I was really going to ruin my life. And the biggest epiphany and opening for me was that, no, the best I could do was actually be me.”
“Home for me is about safety and embrace,” she said. “It’s about shedding all the external masks that we have to wear out in the world. Home is really about beauty, safety, history. My friendships are home for me. My family is home for me. It’s an energetic connection that creates a sense of safety and groundedness, where I don’t have to wear any mask. I can just be myself.”