Tracee Ellis Ross backstage at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards

January 9, 2017

by Carla Hay

The 74th annual Golden Globe Awards took place on January 8, 2017, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.

TRACEE ELLIS ROSS

Golden Globe win:

Best Actress in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical

(“Blackish”)

Here is what this Golden Globe winner said backstage in the Golden Globe Awards press room.

Tracee Ellis Ross at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on January 8, 2017.
Tracee Ellis Ross at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on January 8, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

BACKSTAGE INTERVIEW

How do you identify with your “Blackish” character?

In many ways, but in many ways I didn’t. I’m not a mother, I’m not a doctor, and I’m not married, but we’re so much alike. Bow Johnson, what I do identify with is that she’s a strong woman with a full life whose story is not told through her husband. And that really is something I identified with. She’s a woman with a big heart.

And one of the things that originally drew me to the character that I really loved she actually really loved her husband. And often, in comedies, a lot of the married comedy kind of thing that happens is that the husband and the wife don’t like each other, and that’s where the foil comes from, but love that this couple actually loved each other.

What’s your favorite memory from the “Blackish” production?

I don’t have children, but I love working with the four kids on the show. It’s been a really beautiful and fun journey watching them grow up. Marcus [Scribner] turned 17 yesterday, and watching them grow and sort of navigate this business has been a really fun experience. And we giggle and laugh at work all day long. We have a really good time. That’s probably my favorite part.

What did you think of the body of work that was considered for the nomination and helped win you this award?

Oh, I thought you meant the other women [nominees], because I was going to say I think they’re amazing … I feel really proud of the show in general. Our writers are exceptional, and every week I feel surprised by our scripts and the way that they very courageously tackle heavy subjects—and yet somehow the show is so funny.

And the way they write for my character is really interesting. As I said earlier, often as the wife character, your storyline is through your husband. And that’s not really the case on our show. And it makes it a really fun experience for me to kind of be challenged every week to find my way. There’s been a couple of favorite episodes this season.

You’ve been nominated for other awards and didn’t win. Is the reward the nomination or does winning even better?

It is the nomination, but winning is really sweet. You know, I’ve been doing this for quite a while. It’s not my first time at the rodeo even though it’s my first time at the Golden Globes, so one of the things I asked myself very early on in my career is, “What do award shows mean to me in the context of the work that I do?” And I would do it whether I was getting nominated for things or not, but I think one of the things that’s very special about being nominated and then most particularly about winning is that you actually get to thank the people that make it possible, because none of us do it alone.

It’s such a collaborative art television so the combination of ABC supporting our show and putting billboards up and making sure that people knew where to find us and then the writing that happens in our extraordinary crew and the cast are so many pieces and so winning and being able to stand on that stage and say those names and say those things and then also to have a platform to say things that are important to me in a larger way is what makes winning so special.

What was the first thing that went through your mind when you won, and how are you going to celebrate?

You mean tonight? I was like “Wait they said my name, right? This is so cool!” It was really cool and is really cool and like a special treat. And then I said my entire speech to Meryl Streep. I was looking right at her. And I was like, “Are we doing good? Great!” Yeah, I hope to party as much as possible, but I have a very big week of work, so I’ll be at work at seven in the morning.

What would you hope that young women, especially women of color, would see when they see you accept your award?

I think what I said is really what I mean. I feel like I  receive this award and hold this now I’m as a “inspired by” and “being a face for” as standing on that stage for women of color and colorful people. And I think that you know this nomination was really exciting to me, as was my Emmy nomination. I’m excited to see the industry look outside of where they usually look is very special to me and is very important, and I think it’s something we need to continue to do more of. I think it’s not since 1983 that a black woman has [won] in this category with Debbie Allen …

I think that our industry really can be at the forefront of making sure that the diversity of stories is told, and diversity does not just mean people of color. It’s all different ages and shapes and sizes, and all of it making sure that the stories that we tell and how we celebrate those stories actually represents the humanity that we all live in. So I hope that young women continue to be encouraged to be themselves—and not just young women—young men, all of us.

What does it mean to you to be the first black woman to win this award in this category in more than 30 years?

Holy moly, when you say it that way, I don’t know quite a process that! It means a lot. Goodness! I think my shoulders got a little heavier and I got a little taller all at the same time. I think that’s something I’m going have to ponder for the next couple days but I think it’s some of it is for me to ponder, and I think more of it is for our industry and all of us to ponder.

I think it’s something that we just need to do better at. I think the work is there, the stories are there, and I also feel really special to be in the category with Debbie Allen. I reposted her post because … it’s Debbie Allen, for God sakes! So yeah, very cool. It’s also cool to be a member of a family with two Golden Globe winners.

How does it feel to carve out a totally different path from your parents in show business?

Normal. It feels like it was sort of what I was raised to do, to be myself. I never felt like I was in my mother’s shadow. I know that always comes up when you have a very famous or prominent parent that people say things like that. “How does it feel to be in your parent’s shadow?”

I’ve actually always felt like I was in my mother’s embrace, and part of the way she raised me and all five of her kids is really to follow my heart and follow my dreams and do the hard work to get there. And so I feel like it’s actually kind of sweet and charming and wonderful to have a different experience and yet have so much that is the same as my mom. She’s been here, I had never been to the Globes so I got ask her what to expect.

Can you comment on some of the monologue jokes related to the incoming president?

I think I will let this moment be about my Golden Globe … I’m basking in the glow of this award.

In a few days, a lot of people think a white supremacist will be running this country. What do you suggest people do to change so this won’t happen in the future?

I will keep it focused on this moment and sort of answer that through this moment, which is that I think I’m continuing to tell our own stories and to stand up for what we believe in as individuals is very important.  And I think how I accepted my award tonight spoke to how I feel about all different kinds of stories being represented.