In many ways, Tracee Ellis Ross is an open book. She's an outspoken feminist, a known deep thinker, and, well, the daughter of a living legend. But during our interview with the Black-ish actress for this month's #innerstyle column, we learned quite a few things (eight, in fact) that were nothing short of revelations about the 43-year-old star.
For starters, "Ellis" isn't her real name. "My real middle name, on my birth certificate, is Tracee Joy," she says in the video above. "My mom said I was allowed to let it go professionally because I've embodied it."
As hilarious as she is, we also learned a few serious things about her, too, like the one thing she wished she knew growing up. "[I wish I knew] that I was enough. I had a mother who told me that, so I don’t know where the message got lost," she tells I Am That Girl co-founder Emily Greener in the August issue of InStyle (now available on newsstands and for digital download). "I used to think, there is a right way to look, there is a right person to become—and then I really got stuck."
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So how did she get "unstuck"? By accepting it. "Acceptance does not mean you like it. It means that you agree this is what it is," she says. "Once you have that, you can step forward."
For more from Ross—including what's running through her mind when she's on the red carpet—watch the video above, and read Greener's full interview with the actress here. Plus, visit iamthatgirl.com to learn more about the non-profit organization and its mission to improve the way young women treat themselves, and each other.
[MUSIC] My real middle name on my birth certificate is Tracee Joy. My mom said I was allowed to let it go professionally because I've embodied it. My natural disposition is joy. That does not mean I don't suffer from depression [LAUGH] because that comes up to. Got the flip side know what I mean. The national treasure that is Diana Ross is like a dim light compared to who she is as a mother. Mother. And from a professional standpoint I will say that I sometimes think to myself, what did she do and how was that possible. There's wasn't a road like it was the frigging 60s. What were you talking about. As a woman as a black woman I think of what my mom Did that paved the way for not only who I am in my career and the career that I've been able to have. But who I am as a human being. [MUSIC] [BLANK_AUDIO] I remember I was in fifth grade. [MUSIC] I was like, I'm going to make a choice that these people are staring at me because I'm beautiful. I was wearing glasses. I mean I was not this human. And I was like, I'm just going to make that choice, because it makes me so uncomfortable. I don't know why they're staring at me. I don't know if they're staring at me because I'm black. I don't know if I'm wearing something weird. I had no idea. I'm just making a choice. He's staring at me because I'm beautiful. And I think that that goes back to this idea of choicefulness and sort of how you see things, and. I think we're as happy as we make up our minds to be. I was extremely shy growing up. I don't think that I would've started acting if I didn't go to college. I was painfully shy growing up. It came out in a large personality. Like, I kept people at a distance by being really loud and funny. I'm all these things. I'm quiet and I'm loud. I'm joyful and I'm depressed. I'm happy and I'm sad. I'm big and I'm small. Like we're all of those things, and I don't have to have a version of myself that I think is better than another. And I'm very careful, I'm very mindful how I talk to myself, because then I'm in competition with my own self. Then I fall short of me, I mean that's a bummer. Please the last thing I'm thinking about is the other person on the red carpet. All I'm thinking about is stay your most peaceful and beautiful if they say smile don't gently smile with your eyes find your sexiest expression Don't look like you care, but care. I mean, it's like [LAUGHTER]. It's insane. They say you can't choose your first thought, but you can choose your second. So unconsciously, I would say that my best accessory is my laughter. Which is a point of view that I have. Sort of an ability to laugh at life and myself really. Consciously I would say curiosity, kindness and compassion. [MUSIC] I would want to look in each and every one of your eyes and just sit with you for a second and say hi. And then say 'what's you name'? And then I would whisper 'if anyone tells you there's a right way to do your life, they're wrong.' And may you make them wrong by living your life as only you can live it. [MUSIC] And remember than you have choices. And that you're not alone. [MUSIC]