I first met Tracee Ellis Ross in 2012 when I was working at a small fashion website. It was my first week on the job, and I was immediately assigned to report on a natural hair event where she'd be available for on-camera interviews. I was excited about the opportunity but leery about the likelihood of actually getting time with the Girlfriends actress since the publication I was reporting for was somewhat lesser-known. Nonetheless, I attended, chatted with colleagues, commiserated with the cameraman about interview questions, and waited.
After 30 minutes, I was grabbed by a publicist who picked a semi-quiet corner, brought Ms. Ross over, and told us to begin. To my delight, she was the warmest celebrity I'd ever met (which is probably true, to date). We talked hair and skin, among other things, and her cool-big-sister vibe led to her giving me personal beauty advice. That is when my love for her bloomed.
On Monday, Tracee Ellis Ross could very go home with her first Primetime Emmy win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Previously, the daughter of the music legend Diana Ross has been nominated for an Emmy twice for her role in ABC's hit sitcom, black-ish. She also made history as the first Black woman in 34 years to win a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series, Musical, or Comedy in 2017.
She's hilarious, intelligent, dynamic, and a pure joy to watch on screen. As I intuited from our conversation, she also sounds like an amazing friend—one who credits her mother for her unconditional love. "My friends know: My home phone ringer doesn’t turn off," Ross told Glamour in a January 2018 interview. "You need me in the middle of the night? I am your girl. I will bring you to the hospital. I will call you if you are frightened."
Also important: Ross is a FASHION ICON, and the well-traveled, wealthy-artsy auntie that I aspire to be. I'm constantly reminded of this fact because of her Instagram account: The 45-year-old has amassed 4.9 million followers on the social media platform, in no small part because of how she marries style and comedy. From running around Paris in Schiaparelli haute couture (the city where she lived as a Wilhemina model as a teen—sickening, I know!) to just laying in bed with casually stunning hair, TER is giving you quality social media content.
She makes everything sexy—including her politically charged posts.
Oh my god. Like... who is she?? I stan.
Even if I lived in some intergalactic, faraway world, where my perception of beauty was warped like that "The Eye of the Beholder" episode of Twilight Zone, Ross would still be a shining star. Case in point: Her Instagram comment section isn't riddled with peasants like me just stanning. No, by contrast, homegirl is getting words of adoration from the likes of Cindy Sherman, Erykah Badu, Rowan Blanchard, Michaela Angela Davis, Tina Lawson, Rachel Comey, and Bethann Hardison, to name a few.
"Very Pat Cleveland," Davis said below a recent post of Ross laying on a couch with a neon green slip dress, bold rouge lip, and her hair pinned back to expose her perfectly clear skin.
Personally, I’ve bought clothing and shoes, inspired by her bold style, as she’s a constant inspiration to me of how high fashion can be dressed down for everyday life. This is very Tracee Ellis Ross, I’ve thought when trying on a pair of white velcro Adidas Stan Smiths. High-waist skirt with turtleneck? I’m living my best TER life!, I’ve subconsciously said.
Ross is the physical manifestation of Black girl magic. She's confident, smart, loving, carefree, cultured, and an all-around badass. By simply existing, Ross gives me life. Yes, it helps that she's conscious AF, regularly urging fans to participate in civic activities, uplifting other Black women, and advocating for victims of sexual assault through Time's Up, at which she's a co-founder.
She's also fearless. In a world that subconsciously advises women to follow a specific life path (college, job, husband, kids), she's creating a prototype for owning your own destiny and making it look good.
"My life is mine," Ross said she wrote to herself during her Glamour's 2017 Women of the Year Summit speech. "I've become a woman that I am very proud to be... I’m going to pay attention to the reality of my life and the audacity of my dreams instead of the expectation I was raised with."
Win or lose on Emmy night, I can't wait to see what she does next.