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Tracee Ellis Ross Designed The Life Of Her Dreams

Tracee's road to personal freedom has been anything but linear.

Tracee Ellis Ross

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."

Ms. Angelou be preaching, ain't it?

While life is good for throwing us a curveball or two, no truer words have been spoken, especially when it comes to becoming the architects of our own lives and after 47 years of walking this earth, no one knows this better than our good sis, Tracee Ellis Ross.

Recently, Tracee sat down for the latest leg of Oprah's 2020 Vision Tour and got real about her journey to becoming the woman of her dreams, and for her, the road to personal freedom has been anything but linear.

Although the 47-year-old entertainer has worked hard to become the Black-ish Girlfriend Hollywood didn't know it needed, Tracee told Oprah that her original dream was to walk in her mother's footsteps and sing. She shared:

"There was this little girl in me who's original dream was to be on a stage in a sparkly dress singing. I think it was very unconscious that I tucked her away. It felt dangerous. It felt like I was gonna be obliterated and compared."

Being a woman with the audacity to live out her dreams is no small task, and Tracee says that this is a lesson she learned firsthand. The actress said while that the apprehension of being judged or compared eventually crippled her vision of becoming a songstress, she found her voice years later after finding the courage to sing in front of her mom (or anyone else) for the first time in her upcoming film, The High Note:

"Every time there was a moment to sing publicly with other people, I would make it funny because that way people wouldn't listen with the 'Diana Ross' kid ear.' It was as if I was walking around with not all of me because there was a part of me that wanted to shine, that I wanted to live and wasn't. So, it was like this arm tied around my back. [When she found out], her face was covered in tears, and she said, 'Finally.'"

Although Tracee's fear of flying may have crippled her dreams in the past, she is intentional about never making that mistake again. The actress shared that after four decades of life, she's finally become "more herself" than ever before.

"As I've gotten older, I've become more myself. And the more I am myself, the more my life looks like me ... I used to think it was my job to be this quiet demure, gentle woman, who would listen and smile. It's all over the movies. I feel like I grew up in her embrace, not in her shadow."

In her chat with Oprah, Tracee also confirmed that she is still ("happy and gloriously") single AF and that she's perfectly fine with that.

In a Valentine's Day post last week, Tracee shared that the best part about being single is being able to choose the frequency of love she surrounds herself with. She wrote:

"As a happily and gloriously long time single woman who also has a deep desire to be in romantic partnership with someone, Valentine's Day can feel tricky. But, I am reminded that although I don't have one special partner... my life is wonderfully full of so much special love. And one of my favorite parts of being single is how I get to choose who I spend my time with, share my heart with, hang with, giggle with, call, dine across from. I have cultivated a robust tribe around me and today on this designated day of love I hope that all of you in my tribe and all of you remember how lovable we are! Happy Valentines Day! #HeresToBestFriendsAndLovers."

Featured image by Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

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Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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