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Jennifer Ferrise
Apr 18, 2018 @ 9:00 am

They say patience is a virtue and nobody knows that better than Tracee Ellis Ross.

After working her way up the Hollywood ladder for decades, the actress landed the biggest role of her career as Dr. Rainbow Johnson on Black-ish, at 41 years old.

Now, 45, with a Golden Globe and three NAACP Awards under her belt, Ellis Ross has some advice for anyone who has been putting in the work and is still waiting for the payout.

“I genuinely wish I’d known that things take longer than you think they're going to take—and it's no fault of your own,” Ellis Ross told InStyle when we caught up with her at a Chico’s #HowBoldAreYou event in N.Y.C. recently. “It’s really easy to think you're doing something wrong when things aren’t happening quickly. And it took me a really long time to understand that you just have to be patient. If you’re doing all of the legwork, things will work out as they’re supposed to.”

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Her other advice? Surround yourself with women who will not only be your cheerleaders but will also lend an ear when you need some advice.

“I've had so many amazing mentors throughout the years,” she said. “When I first moved to L.A., I lived with Marcia Gay Harden [pictured below] in her apartment. I used to run everything by her, scripts, jobs, everything. Now, so many of my mentors have become my friends. Amanda de Cadenet and I talk on a regular basis when we need to reason things out. Marisa Tomei, too. I’m always leaning on her for support.”

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With age comes a renewed sense of self-confidence too, said Ellis Ross. And in an industry that celebrates youth, the actress’s views on getting older are oh so refreshing.

“As a young girl, I had this woman that I dreamt of being,” she said, listing Wonder Woman, Carol Burnett, and the ladies of Charlie’s Angels as the icons she looked up to.

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“The gift of age is that you actually get to have the boldness and the courage to be that woman. Some of the things I've discovered is that I actually like myself! And I like getting older. At 45, I feel the sexiest and the most beautiful I’ve ever felt. I didn’t say I look my most beautiful, I said I feel my most beautiful, and that’s what’s important to me.”

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