Tracee Ellis Ross can add another award show nomination to her list. Ross, who was nominated for an Emmy Award earlier this year, received her first-ever Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Television Series, Musical, or Comedy for her starring role on Black-ish Thursday. She joins her costar Anthony Anderson and the show itself, which were nominated for Best Actor in a Television Series, Musical, or Comedy, and Best Television Series, Musical, or Comedy, respectively.
EW briefly caught up with Ross while she was going through hair and makeup to talk about her big nomination and her overall reaction to the list of nominees.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congratulations on your first-ever Golden Globe nomination. How are you feeling?
TRACEE ELLIS ROSS: I’m doing quite well! It’s a great Monday morning. What a way to start a week! If only every Monday could start this way.
What was your first reaction when you heard the news?
It’s actually very funny. I debated last night, do I set the alarm at 5:30 a.m. when I already have to wake up at 6:00 a.m., which is a late call for me? Do I get that extra half an hour of sleep or not? I decided to get the extra half an hour of sleep. So, I woke up at 5:55 a.m., before the alarm went off, and I picked up the phone to see what time it was, and my phone had so many text messages, I was like, “I bet it’s something good!” So, I got so excited and the first one I saw was from Anthony; it said, “Congratulations.” But, I didn’t know what the full list was and I tried to Google it to make sure he was nominated, and I couldn’t find it yet because it was only 5:55 a.m., so the total list wasn’t out. I called my publicist to find out if Anthony and the show were nominated, and then I just started to get excited. Then, I realized I had to get in the shower and then I came to work. So, it’s thrilling.
What’s the atmosphere like on set today?
I have not actually made it to set. I’m still in hair and makeup; they’re a little behind. Anthony is on location, so he will be back. I haven’t been with everybody, yet, but I imagine I will wrap myself around Anthony like an octopus. But, we are knee-deep in work. They had to change something around and we switched the scene and I had to rewash my hair because it was a different curl than I thought it would be. Now, we’re trying to figure out what the scene is because it’s actually from a different episode. So we’re knee-deep in work and although it’s very exciting, I think it’s the best reward in the world that I am at work doing what I love and that is the best congratulations that I could have for this nomination.
The other thing that’s exciting to me is that I looked through the list of all the nominees and I feel very proud of the Hollywood Foreign Press for really acknowledging a lot of extraordinary work in a diverse way — lots of different kinds of projects, lots of different kind of people, so that the diversity of our country is actually represented in the nominations. I feel very pleased about that and a lot of the work I was in awe of this year seems to be nominated and acknowledged, which makes me very happy. That always makes me feel proud, whether it’s friends or just works that I feel were really representative of humanity this year. In light of the new administration that’s coming on and all of the things going in our country, I feel very proud to be a representative of Hollywood. As artists, I think we have a responsibility to share humanity and show the diversity of our country and the stories of who we are as a human culture, an American culture, and I think that this year the work is really represented here.
This was a big year for predominantly black shows, especially for Black-ish, which also received Emmy and Critics’ Choice Award nods. What do you think it is that made people finally stop and take a look at the show?
I think for network television, I feel very proud of our show. It’s a different kind of boundary that you have on network television. I don’t know what took people long or not long; I’m grateful that it’s now. I’m grateful that Atlanta, Issa Rae, Moonlight, and so many other wonderful projects were acknowledged this year, but if you look at the categories, diversity isn’t just about color. Diversity is about age and size and different kinds of stories and making sure humanity is represented as the textured experience that it is being a human. If you look at just my category and you look at the age difference of a lot of these nominees and the different kinds of stories each of us are telling, like Sarah Jessica Parker for Divorce. I think that’s important and that’s part of what’s often missing: it’s not just color. It’s the diversity of storytelling, so that all kinds of people get to see themselves represented so that television and movies are a reflection of the world that we live in. I don’t know what takes people a long time. I’m grateful to be representing a show that I’m incredibly proud of and that the Hollywood Foreign Press is acknowledging our show and is looking outside of places that they normally look to acknowledge work.
When you get off work today, how do you plan on celebrating?
I don’t know if I’ll need to celebrate. I think that being nominated is exciting, but it’s also not a badge of my life changing. It just means that the work that I’ve done is being celebrated. The truth is, for me, award and award shows really are an opportunity to acknowledge all of the people that make it happen because none of us do it alone. Other than that, I get to keep doing what I do. That’s exciting. That’s really the point. But, I’m 44, this is my third television series, I am an actor and I have been doing this for a really long time and I love what I do. To be nominated at 44 at this point in my career for the first time — I’ve never actually been to the Golden Globes — feels thrilling to me. Maybe I’ll get to present. It’s exciting, yet I also get to keep doing what I do.
Is there anyone you’re looking forward to seeing or anything that you’re looking forward to doing in addition to presenting?
I have no idea what to expect. I’ve watched it on TV since I started acting, since I was a kid. I’ve always loved watching award shows. I loved seeing women in gorgeous dresses and men with their bowties and their penguin jackets. It’s always exciting to because I’ve always loved clothes since I was a young girl. Then, as soon as I started working it became about something else. That was a place I wanted to be. I’ll be excited to be in that room, and I don’t know what else I’d be excited about.
I have been in this business a long time and the truth is award shows are an opportunity to connect with your peers that we never get to see. Last night at the Critics’ Choice Awards, it was so fun; I got to sit and hang out with Sarah Paulson and Amanda Peet, who are friends that I never get to see. That was just so much fun. Last night, there were some really fun moments. I got to say hi to Tom Ford, who is an old friend of mine and I feel so happy for him. I ran across the room to meet Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Fleabag, because I just think she’s incredible and her show is amazing. So, award shows sort of give you an opportunity to acknowledge and give a hug to people you’ve never met and whose work you think is extraordinary.
Black-ish airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC.