In an alternate universe – much fairer than the one we currently occupy – where Hollywood is a place that allows talent to actually flourish, Tracee Ellis Ross would be the biggest star in the world right now.
My mind struggles to think of anyone else that is as effortlessly funny, endlessly vibrant, and impossibly beautiful right now in Hollywood other than Ross. Of course, being the daughter of legendary Diana Ross certainly lends itself to her charisma. But it's the way she bursts out into a song. Her cackle that fills an entire room. Her smile that only rivals the sun with how bright it is.
If this was the '60s, Ross would give Hollywood comedic darling Carol Burnett a run for her money with the sheer breadth of her talent as an actress. I’m imagining Ross as the host of her own variety show where she’s singing, performing in sketches, and wearing an endless array of gowns.
I was too young during the initial run of Girlfriends. The Ross I fell in love with was not Ross as Joan Clayton – the high-strung yet sophisticated attorney – but instead, it was Ross the YouTuber. This was years after Girlfriends had been canceled and during the time when her acting career had briefly stalled, but proving she’s always ahead of the curve, Ross started making her own videos sharing hair care tips, beauty secrets, and moments with her rapping alter ego, T Murda.
Tracee was an influencer before being an influencer was a thing.
In 2014, the hit ABC comedy black-ish introduced Ross to a wider (whiter) audience as she played Rainbow “Bow” Johnson, the doctor and the matriarch of the Johnson family. It was this performance that would garner her the most awards praise and it was this performance that would bring her the most recognition from critics, talk show hosts, and magazines. Was it her best role? Debatable. Still, only Ross could elevate the overdone role of a woman whose primary function on a show is to support her husband and children into something bearable and even amusing.
Now, with the ending of the series, I’m giddy at the prospect of what Ross’ career will look like moving forward. In a recent interview with The Cut where she’s in conversation with the one and only Megan Thee Stallion, Ross speaks about owning her narrative saying, “By not letting other people’s ideas of me change my idea of myself. It means holding my own counsel and navigating my life on my compass, which is about my relationship with higher power, my relationship with those I trust and love. And then in terms of my career, it’s about saying what I want it to be.”
Already, the actress has the titular role in Jodie, the spin-off of the hit ‘90s cartoon Daria, lined up. I want to say the entertainment world is now Ross’ oyster, but knowing what Hollywood is has left me cynical. In my wildest dreams, I envision a career for Ross where she gets to be as effervescent on screen as she is off. Where she gets to play the love interest in a romantic comedy where her character is a fully realized person without a partner and romantic love just becomes a cherry on top.
I want her to play the eccentric but loveable character à la Maude from Harold and Maude. She could perform a one-woman show off-Broadway! She could play a good witch! She could play a wicked witch!
Tracee can and should be allowed to have it all. Give Tracee Ellis Ross the world, you cowards!
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Featured image by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic