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Tracee Ellis Ross Opens Up About Surpassing Her Own Expectations & Finally Feeling "Whole" At Age 46

For Tracee Ellis Ross, wholeness is priceless.

Tracee Ellis Ross

Life doesn't always turn out the way we think it should, but the good news is most times, that means your destiny can be greater than anything you could have expected.

Just ask Tracee Ellis Ross, who used the lowest point in her life to create the formula for her career peak. The actress recently announced the release of her haircare line, PATTERN, and talked with ESSENCE about how she made a dream that is more than a decade in the making come true through the power of manifestation.

Decades after appearing on the cover of ESSENCE with her mother, Diana, for the first time, Tracee Ellis Ross is on a mission to become an industry legend in her own right. In the cover story, she explained:

"I remember the first time I was on 'ESSENCE'. I was on it with my mom. I thought, 'Okay, dreams are real, and they can happen.' Still, as Diana Ross's child, you wonder whether you will become anything in your own right. So it was a really big moment to go from being on the cover of 'ESSENCE' with my mom to having my own cover. Now I've had three on my own and one with my mom. That's crazy!"

At age 46, Tracee is as fly and free as ever, and says that after years of letting others determine her worth, she finally understands that wholeness is priceless:

"I feel a little humbled by that, knowing I have truly filled my own shoes—and maybe even had to buy a couple of new pairs at times. There are people who have no idea that my worth is not based on my mom or what I look like. There's a wholeness to me that I cherish."

While Tracee may be living the life of her dreams today thanks to this positive perspective, this hasn't always been her mentality. The entrepreneur explained that when Girlfriends went off the air in 2008, she felt like a fish out of water with nowhere to swim. Although Tracee anticipated that her phone would soon blow up with a slew of calls, texts, and emails that offered the actress her next big role, her phone didn't ring:

"I really thought when 'Girlfriends' finished that the pearly gates of Hollywood were going to open, and they were going to be like, 'What movie would you like, ma'am? Please, choose whatever.' That did not happen. It forced my soul to continue to search for what it longed for, dreamed of, wanted to be."

I've always been very intentional with my prayers, but it's hard to ask for what you haven't envisioned. According to Tracee, the key to discovering your destiny may lie in leveling up your expectations. Tracee says that she finally discovered freedom after realizing that true joy can't be determined by a dollar sign:

"It allowed me to continue to create an unbreakable, unshakable foundation for my life, a relationship with myself that is based not on what everybody outside is saying but on what I believe is good and right. It allowed me to continue to grow as a person and to realize I was deserving and worthy. I could own my success, but I could also own what might look like failure. I could literally be my own best friend and mirror, knowing that my worth is not tangled up in what I think I should be getting."

The path to success is not linear, and Tracee warns against beating yourself up when you lose your footing. What she thought was the end of her career was only the beginning of her best life, because soon after the show ended, she wrote her first pitch for a line of hair care products that would come to fruition 10 years later. Our time isn't God's time, and Tracee learned that lesson the hard way so we don't have to:

"Ten years ago, when 'Girlfriends' ended, I wrote a pitch for a line of hair care products. It has been 30 years in the trenches of my hair. Twenty years of dreaming. Ten years of trying, strategizing and asking. Five years of continuing to learn. Four years with chemists, and 74 samples later, we're here."

To read Tracee's full interview, click here!

Featured image by Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

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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