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Article

A conversation with Tracee Ellis Ross

Gab on ”Girlfriends,” filming in lingerie, and a possible ”Reed Between the Lines” cameo from her famous mom, Diana Ross

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After Girlfriends ended in 2008, did you want to go back to TV?
When I left Girlfriends, honestly, I wasn’t thinking about much other than taking a break after eight years on such a great show. But I was sitting down for a meeting with BET, and they started to explain the new direction that BET was going in [with scripted programming]. I felt really excited about seeing a happily married couple on television. I think it’s so rare. It seems like poop jokes and bad marriages are really easy. A happily married couple gives you the opportunity to explore comedy not in your run-of-the-mill way. Then you bring in Malcolm-Jamal Warner and you just think, ”Come on!”

Tell us about your character, Dr. Carla Reed.
She is a woman who finds joy and celebration in all of her quirkiness. It’s interesting to play a woman who’s thriving and to find the humor in the reality of what is happening in her life and not the drama of what isn’t happening. That’s a really fun shift from who Joan [Ross’ character on Girlfriends] was. Joan was unlucky in love and couldn’t accept all of who she was.

You have a pretty sexy scene in the pilot where you’re in lingerie. Do you get nervous doing scenes like that?
I’m comfortable in my body, but I’m not an exhibitionist. What makes a huge difference is I feel very comfortable with Malcolm. Carla and Alex are very attracted to each other — I feel like sexuality can be misused in our culture, and it’s beautiful to see sexuality played out in a committed relationship.

Will you ask your mom, Diana Ross, to guest-star?
I don’t know.

We’d like you to make that happen.
[Laughs] Well, if you write it in the article, that can be the last line!

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