- Actress Tracee Ellis Ross recently opened up about being a Black Hollywood icon in a moving interview with Kerry Washington for ELLE magazine.
- The Black-ish star said,"It takes a lot of courage to advocate for yourself. As a woman, and as a Black woman, advocating for yourself is actually a form of resistance."
Tracee Ellis Ross understands the difficulties of advocating for oneself as a marginalized person in a predominantly white, male industry. Speaking with Kerry Washington for ELLE, Ross empathized with the struggle and also celebrated self-advocacy for Black women as its own act of resistance.
"Sometimes we can feel like speaking up on our own behalf looks like ego," said Washington. "But asking for what we need—whether it's a friend at an awards show, or speaking up in the hair and makeup trailer, or in our relationships—it is a part of how we express our work, not necessarily our ego. How do you navigate that?"
The Black-ish actress replied, "With a lot of support. It takes a lot of courage to advocate for yourself. As a woman, and as a Black woman, advocating for yourself is actually a form of resistance. It is how each of us push the world to make sure that the real estate matches the reality of who we are and what we deserve."
She later added that standing up for yourself can pave the way for others. "And every courageous act that a marginalized person takes opens up a space for somebody else," she continued. "I like to use the acronym for ego of Edging God Out. Often, if you look at it from that perspective, then speaking up for yourself is being of service to the god within you. It is you stepping up and saying, 'I deserve something better.'
"I have issues sometimes with the word 'empower,' like, 'We're going to empower you.' Because often, for so many marginalized people, yes, they don't have power on the outside, but they do have that power in the inside. The system is mirroring back a powerlessness. That's not the truth, but we so often believe in the system—because how could you not?—and you think that's the truth."
Ross also discussed the power in community, especially in a ruthless industry. "That is one of the ways that the system keeps you powerless. The system says, you're alone in this, it's only you," she told Washington. "The more that you link arms and realize the fellowship that occurs in the same feelings, the more power you have. It's the same thing with the storytelling of the experience. The more I hear other people's narratives and how they've navigated through, I go, 'Oh, that's an idea that I could use.'"
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