As Tracee Ellis Ross preps for her 50th birthday on October 29, the black-ish star is reflecting on the many things she’s learned along the way. One of those things is “wander, ponder, be,” which she uses to help her write speeches. During her interview with Hoda & Jenna, the beloved comedic actress gave insight into what those three words actually mean and how she applies them to her life. “I started figuring out the wander, ponder, be’s whenever I was writing a speech. Because in order to write a speech you just sort of have something come in from the inside,” she explained.
If it’s one thing that the Golden Globe winner is known for outside of acting, it’s her gift of gab. From her hilarious skits on social media to her energetic conversations in interviews, Tracee has always known how to use her voice and it also shines through in her speeches. Her speech during the 2017 Glamour's Women of the Year Summit went viral after she spoke against women’s accomplishments being diminished due to them not being married and/ or starting a family. It appears we have Tracee’s 'wander, ponder, and be' strategy to thank for that.
“I really needed time to wander, ponder, be and social media does not allow it,” she continued. “Because you take all your downtime so I like to give myself a chance to wander, to not know where I’m going but just wander, have time to just ponder, and just kinda play in the imagination of my mind and to be.”
She added, “And my favorite part of my life is my life like making food, and like going to the market and being in my life.”
While she isn’t shy about using her voice to speak on matters of the world, there is one thing she struggled to use her voice for—singing. Tracee shared that she always wanted to sing but was “too terrified” to follow in her mother, the great Diana Ross’, footsteps. She finally faced that fear after starring in the film The High Notewhere she plays a singer. But she recently realized that not using her gift of singing was only holding her back from creating new experiences in her life.
“What was interesting was as I was learning how to sing…I felt like I opened lifeways, not pathways but lifeways,” she said. “Not that I was necessarily meant to be a singer, but by cutting off that part of myself just because I was afraid, I had closed off certain doors to part of my identity and myself, and so things just started to open up when I found my voice.”
In need of a little motivation? Keep reading for 9 more noteworthy gems about life that Tracee has dropped over the years.
Tracee Ellis Ross on the Advice That’s Guided Her Through Life:
"There are two things that have been the biggest guides through my life. The first one is: Follow your heart and trust your instincts. The second is: What other people think is none of your business and even sometimes what you think of yourself is none of your business. Sometimes it’s about staying in action as opposed to trying to decide how to make people think a certain way about you." - via WSJ
On Lessons She Has Learned as an Entrepreneur:
"One is to trust my instincts. Two is, there’s so much more involved than I ever had any idea of—and I knew there was a lot involved. The biggest lessons have been around the consistency of relationships and communication with retail partners and also my team…. Because it is an hourly thing, particularly right now during the supply-chain issues that are going on. And then the last thing is, you don’t need a degree in CEO-dom or entrepreneurship in order to run a successful company. You need to surround yourself with very informed and excellent people and remain teachable without losing focus on your vision." - via WSJ
On Finding Meaning in Life:
"I feel that to a certain extent, we are the first generation of choice for women, who have had the opportunity to actually choose the lives they want to live…. The cultural expectation for women that they are meant to be mothers and married and that that is almost what makes their lives valid creates a scenario that I push up against in general. There's many places where that happens in our culture that I think are very limiting for women in terms of finding meaning in their own lives." - via Good Housekeeping
On Showing Her Full Self on Social Media:
“One of the reasons that I share so much on social media is that I recently turned 49. At this age, self-care, self-love, joy and drinking plenty of water are what keep your body strong. I love posting about this because it gives you the full picture of who I am. I’m not always the perfect Tracee on the red carpet. That’s not how I wake up. Various other things are needed for that.” via Elle Canada
Rich Fury/VF22/Getty Images for Vanity Fair
On Living Life on Her Own Terms:
"I didn’t see enough examples of different versions of how a woman can find happiness and joy and power and sensuality, sexuality, all of that, without it being through the lens of how I’m seen by a man. People are like, 'You’re the poster child for being single.' And I was like, 'Great.' But what I would prefer is that I’m the poster child for living my life on my terms. And that there’s a version of that for everyone.
"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." via Harper's Bazaar
On the Power of Her Womanhood:
"There's a power I started to feel when I began to call myself a woman that I wasn't tapped into as a younger girl. I've witnessed it in friends of mine and in people I don't know. It's the power that generates from this idea that our bodies can create life—even though not every woman creates life. It's a woman's ability to look at life a certain way, to create in a certain way, to be of service in a certain way, to care in a certain way." - via Glamour
On Detaching Herself From the Opinions of Others:
"What other people think about me is none of my business. Sometimes even what I think about myself is not my business. Opinions are like assholes: We’ve all got them. What I know is that I wake up every day trying to do my best. I know that my heart and my intention is in the right place. And if somebody points something out to me that I actually think is constructive and loving and I agree and I need to take accountability for it, I can do that. My selfhood and my sense of self can withstand appropriate criticism." via The Cut
On Finding Support in Dark Moments:
"The key is you ask yourself, What do I need right now? I’ve cultivated a relationship with myself where I know I have choices…. I have a toolbox of ways I can find support; journaling is helpful, or meditation. And I have had to really make friends with loneliness. And know the difference between choice-ful solitude and lonely. [I find comfort in] being able to name it, to say I’m feeling lonely, then to have a tribe of people I feel safe enough with to share: This is how I feel.
"I don’t have the luxury of not going to work when I don’t feel up to it. Most people don’t. On those days, I acknowledge I am feeling f-cking crappy, and I’m not at my best, and I still want to or need to keep walking forward. I have to do some of my best work on my worst days. I have to look pretty even when I don’t feel pretty. There’s a way to hold both things." - via Glamour
On How She Owns Her Own Narrative:
"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." via The Cut
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