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Tracee Ellis Ross
Tracee stars as "Joan Clayton" on UPN's comedy series "Girlfriends." Ellis Ross has worked as a fashion editor for Mirabella and New York Magazine, written and produced segments for cable shows, hosted her own television show, appeared in national advertising campaigns and traveled the world. Her true gift and love, however, lies in acting. Ross was named by the Los Angeles Times as a "Face to Watch" following her television debut as host of "The Dish." Her other television credits include "Lyricist Lounge," a sketch comedy show for MTV. This year, she made history with her cast mates when they co-hosted the "2004 NAACP Image Awards," which marked the first year any woman has hosted the program. Ross' theatrical experience includes a leading role in "The Vagina Monologues." She made her debut at the Canon Theater in Los Angeles and has also performed with the production in San Francisco. Ross' big-screen debut was a leading role in the feature film "Far Harbor," co-starring with Marcia Gay Harden and Jennifer Connelly. She also appeared in the feature film comedy "Hanging Up," in which she played Meg Ryan's distracted assistant. As a model, Ross worked with some of the most highly regarded photographers in the fashion industry, including Herb Ritts, Peter Lindberg, Francesco Scavullo and Mario Testino. She has graced the pages of top fashion and consumer magazines, including Harper's Bazaar, Essence, Mirabella, Life, US, O and InStyle. She has also appeared in advertising campaigns for The Gap, Donna Karan Collection, DKNY and Paul Mitchell. Ross has earned three NAACP Image Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress and a Prism Award nomination (2003) for her portrayal of Joan on GIRLFRIENDS. Named by Essence magazine as an "It" woman of 2000, she is described as a "trend setter with signature style." She was also named one of America's "Leading Ladies," along with Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer, on the American Elite 1000 List for 2000, which acknowledges women who are gracefully redefining the rules for success. Ross is a graduate of Brown University and the William Esper Acting Studio. Although a New Yorker at heart, Ross currently lives in Los Angeles. Tracee Ellis Ross was born on October 29, 1972, in Beverly Hills, California, USA. Her Sign is Scorpio. She was born as Tracee Joy Silberstein.
Five Things You Must Know About Tracee Ellis Ross
1. Essence magazine crowned Tracee Ellis Ross the It Woman of 2000.
2. She once worked as a fashion editor for Mirabella and New York magazines.
3. Ross has appeared in the Eve Ensler play "The Vagina Monologues."
4. She made her big screen debut in 1996's "Far Harbor," co-starring Oscar® winners Marcia Gay Harden and Jennifer Connelly.
5. Ross used her connections to help singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik, a fellow Brown University student, get discovered.
Tracee Ellis Ross: Supreme Daughter
The daughter of music legend Diana Ross and music promoter Robert Ellis, Tracee Ellis Ross was born in Beverly Hills, California, on October 29, 1972. The rambunctious child loved playing dress-up in her mother's dreamy closet. Even her parents' amicable divorce in 1977 didn't dampen her high spirits. Ross had no problems adapting after she and her mother moved to New York two years later.
At age 16, Ross signed with a modeling agency and soon began gracing the pages of magazines. The teen also discovered a love of acting and decided to study theater at Brown University after graduating from high school.
In 1997, Ross got her big break when she was selected to host a Lifetime series called "The Dish." After 18 episodes of that show, she decided to move to Hollywood to further her career. Despite encountering repeated rejection, Ross didn't give up. Finally, in 2000, she was cast as an ambitious attorney with a lukewarm love life on the TV show "Girlfriends." The sitcom became a hit — and so did Ross. Diana's little girl has finally stepped out of her mother's shadow to create a legacy of her own.
Her personal quotes:
"I'm just a kid…who has a specific bag of experiences that go along with [having] Diana Ross [as] my mom."
"My family has every mix, color, race and religion. It's the biggest blessing and gift in my life."
Tracee Ellis Ross and Diana Ross celebrate the power of endless love
The silk slips and stilettos went flying behind a folding screen as two women with enormous eyes and raging curls changed costumes for their photo shoot together. One woman is a household name, a legend, the very definition of "diva"; the other is an ingenue on the cusp of celebrity with a well-received role in an ensemble television series. Both are capable of playing the coquette, yet both are tougher than you might think, the older one having survived for decades in the fickle world of making music, the younger having secured an Ivy League degree after years of elite prep-school education. But the photo shoot, an otherwise glamorous affair with a truckload of cosmetics and attendants, is punctuated with a shriek that is familiar to almost every woman alive and goes to the heart of the true relationship between the two.
"Mahhhhhhhh-ummmm!" the younger one cries out to the older one, who scurries over to see what's the matter. The mother is Diana Ross, 60, one of the most famous women of the planet, in the one role that the public rarely sees but that she calls the most important and rewarding of all. The daughter is Tracee Ellis Toss, 31, who grew up backstage, watching her mother apply blush and change costumes between sets and dreaming of being like her. The younger one is now following her own path as a star of the UPN series Girlfriends.
Both women say that no matter how the public may see her, Diana Ross has been a mother first--a single mother for most of the time--kissing her brood of three now-grown daughters (Rhonda, Tracee and Chudney) and two teenage sons (Ross and Evan) goodnight before heading to the studio, making her signature zucchini casserole with Lipton onion soup for them, and calling from the road at bedtime when she was away. If her children knocked on the door seconds before showtime, she always let them in.
"Hers is deep well of love," Tracee says. "I could be in a swarm of my mom's fans and her eye contact would be enough to make me feel safe and warm."
Tracee, the middle daughter, took to the glamour and glitz of her mother's life, and loved being backstage with her. "It was almost as if I was studying my mom," Tracee says. "I was absorbing, inhaling. I was in a delicious garden. One of my favorite things to do was sit on the floor and watch Mommy go through her ritual of getting ready. We'd rarely talk. Sometimes the silence is the most precious time you can share with someone."
A woman who has lived her entire adult life--its incredible ups and its very public downs--in the spotlight, Diana says that through it all her children have been her salvation. "My children are my heart and my life," she says. "They mean everything to me. Everything else comes second to my children--my career, everything."
For all the fabulousness of her diva's life, Diana Ross is old-school in how she handles her kids. "She was very traditional when it came to curfews and homework and etiquette," Tracee remembers. "Drinking out of a water bottle was something we couldn't do. Or she'd say, 'You're not wearing stockings?' She was famous for cupping her hand under your mouth for you to take the gum out. No words. The look on her face said, 'Just spit it out. Now.'"
Some things fell by the wayside. "No, my mom didn't get to go to every play I was in," Tracee says. "She couldn't go school-shopping, and those were pangs for me. But for every kid there's something with their parent."
Tracee, the comedian of the family, decided to pursue acting after taking her first acting class and then appearing in plays at Brown University. Her mother neither pushed her nor discouraged her. "She's been very respectful of our process," Tracee says. "She lets us make our own decisions and gives us space." Tracee doesn't turn to her mother for Hollywood advice. "So much of the business talk I never do with my mom," she says. "I talk to Mom about mom stuff, like, 'I'm moving and I'm scared. What am I going to do?'"
In the last few years it has been Diana who has needed her share of support and encouragement. She navigated a divorce from her second husband, Arne Naess, who died earlier this year in a mountain hiking accident. Then there was the drunk-driving charge for which she spent two days in jail last winter. During hard times, Diana Ross says, her children are a source of strength helping her weather the storm.
"In the last year they have given me what they've always given me: love and support," she says. "We're a family, When one is down, the others are up. But when you know you're loved by the people who are important to you, you can get through everything."
At the end of the photo shoot, Diana is sitting cross-legged and proper in a white terry-cloth robe, basking in the presence of her daughter bouncing on the sofa beside her. Diana's face is serene as she puts her very full life in perspective. "It's a fleeting thing, the celebrity of your life," she says. "I've had a wonderful career, but career doesn't last forever. And the men have been fleeting. But my children are still here." She glows at the thought. "I would be terribly lonely without my children," she adds. "Nothing would matter without them."