“My life…is mine”, it’s a simple enough line but the true implications of living a life fully owned is far deeper reaching that we might imagine. So many of us live for other people; to fulfill their needs, for their love, for their approval.

 Live this way long enough and one day we wake up not even knowing what living our own life even means.

Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross’ enormously long running, celebrated career has seen her carve out a truly unique niche and all without being over shadowed by her more-famous-than-famous mother, Diana Ross.

Tracee is a living testament to her realization that her life is, just that, her own.

As we roll into the New Year and plan who and what we want to be in 2018, we’re excited to share her exclusive Glamour chat, covering sexuality, self-worth and finding our individual paths in all the noise. We hope it inspires you to reclaim your own life.

Kathryn 
Photo: Patrick Demarchelier

On how she was raised to be sex-positive, and what that means in today’s society…

“My mom [singer Diana Ross] is a sexy woman—that is part of her persona—and that is a delicious thing that has never felt scary to me. Recently I learned this wonderful term, sex-positive, and that is the way I feel. [For me] the answer to the objectification of women and black women in our culture is not to shut down my sexuality but to own it as something that is mine.”

On the recent #MeToo reactions…

“Historically, women have not had ownership of our bodies. And it is enough. It is enough. You do not get to touch my body or comment on my body as you please. Period.”

On the kind of mother Diana Ross was to a teenage Tracee Ellis Ross…

“[I remember], one of her best lines of my childhood—I have always been attempting to make friends with my hair, and I went through this phase where I tried every hair product in the world. My mom said to me, ‘Listen to me: You either need to get yourself an incredibly good job, or’—and by the way, this is generational, but she did put job first—‘or a very wealthy husband to pay for your hair products alone, because they are going to break the bank. Call it quits on the hair products. I can’t deal with it.’”

On what her mother, Diana Ross, taught her about love…

“I have never heard my mom say, ‘Not now—I don’t have time.’ Even now, in the middle of the night, my mom will answer the telephone. It’s incredible to know you are loved in a way that somebody is there for you. That’s something that I have used in my relationships with friends. My friends know: My home phone ringer doesn’t turn off. You need me in the middle of the night? I am your girl. I will bring you to the hospital. I will call you if you are frightened.”

On being at the American Music Awards to see Diana Ross win the Lifetime Achievement Award…

“What was most impactful about that moment to me was that my mother was receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award for her career, and the most important thing to my mom was to have her entire family onstage with her. My mom had my nieces and nephews—her grandchildren—dancing around her. Whenever we go see her show, that’s what happens. That’s the way I grew up, dancing onstage while my mom was singing. Just like walking on the stage and tapping her on the butt, and like, ‘Mom, Mom.’ My mom holds her family and a career and nourishes both things.”

Photo: Patrick Demarchelier

On finding love outside of traditional romantic relationships…

“I will say—listen—I do not want to make out with my best friend, nor do I want them to spoon me naked. So that is a simple and clear distinction. However, I will tell you that my best friend, for example, is very clear with her husband—that I’m in the relationship too. There is a clear distinction between [our roles though]. She had a conversation with her husband recently, and she said to him, ‘Listen to me, Tracee is not available right now, so you’re going to have to take on a different role and listen to what I’m saying to you. Don’t try and fix what I’m saying; don’t try and give me an answer. I need to share.’ And she shared some details that usually would’ve gone to me.”

On how she made friends with loneliness…

“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.”

On how she copes with feeling low on certain days…

“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.”

How she pushes Black-ish writers to change the “sitcom wife” trope with Rainbow Johnson…

“I am constantly asking questions of the writers: Why? Why am I doing—I coined it as lady chores—why is it that I am making lunches, and Dre is not making lunches? Why am I carrying laundry? Can I not come out of the laundry room, and come in from work? Can I have a wine glass instead of be stirring soup?  The writers—we have almost 50 percent female writers—they are so attuned to Bow. There is no one consciously attempting to give me lady chores, but sometimes [it happens] unconsciously. Anthony [Anderson, who plays Dre] will be like, ‘Let’s switch; let me take a lady chore.’ I would say that eight out of 10 times, it gets changed.”

Read the full feature here.

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