Tracee Ellis Ross on Hopes for Her 'Black-ish' Character and Potentially Making Emmy History

Kelsey McNeal/ABC

"Being nominated for an Emmy both last year and this year ringing in the historical context of how long it’s been since a black woman has won," the actress tells THR.

In January, Tracee Ellis Ross was the first black actress in 34 years to win a Golden Globe for best actress in a TV comedy or musical.

Now she’s hoping for gold and to redefine history again, this time with an Emmy. And It has been 36 years since a black actress has won an Emmy in the category. The last star to take home a win was The Jeffersons lead Isabel Sanford in 1981.

Ross tells The Hollywood Reporter, “Being nominated for an Emmy both last year and this year, ringing in the historical context of how long it’s been since a black woman has won since Isabel Sanford, I am reminded of the shoulders that I stand on and the shoulders that I stand with.”

Opening up further, the actress who plays Bow on ABC's hit sitcom Black-ish talks to THR about wanting to write for the show, what she has learned from the character and more. 

Congratulations on your second Emmy nomination. What does it mean to you to be nominated this year? 

Being nominated for an Emmy both last year and this year — ringing in the historical context of how long it’s been since a black woman has won, since Isabel Sanford — I am reminded of the shoulders that I stand on and the shoulders that I stand with. I don’t believe that it is just mine. It is a lot of people’s and a collective nomination for many.

Where do you want to see Bow in season four?

I’d really love Bow to get some friends. (Laughs.) It’s hilarious when I say that because she really doesn’t have any friends. We have amazing writers and it’s always like Christmas when I get a new script. I never really know how it’s going to unfold. I found out she was pregnant when I got the script. It’s nice that way. They clearly do a wonderful job and I’m excited to see what unfolds for Bow this season. Me and the writers have had a lot of synergy from the beginning so it doesn’t feel weird or bad. It’s just the way it is on our show.

As an actress, do you like being kept in the dark about your character?

Sometimes I do have input. We talk and interact a lot. For the, “Being Bow-Racial” episode there was one section of the story that they were really getting friction on in the room. They couldn’t land on what they wanted it to be and they brought me in and we just talked about what my experience was as a mixed woman growing up. They didn’t write my story, but the incorporated pieces of it. But in terms of pitching stories that’s the brilliance of our writers. It’s different on every project. On Girlfriends I was much more aware of what was coming.

Would you want to write or direct an episode?

I would love to pitch stories. Maybe that would happen on our show. Not necessarily direct — that would be very tough with the schedule we keep and the amount of scenes that I’m in — but I do think writing an episode is something I would love one day. I have a point of view in life and I like to use it. I have a particular point of view and a vantage point about being a woman and what that means and the stories I like being told about being a woman of color, about being a black woman in this country right now and what that means. Oftentimes that overlaps with our stories and I get to incorporate thoughts and opinions I have.

Black-ish creator and showrunner Kenya Barris opened up about being disappointed about not getting an Emmy nomination for the "Election" episode.

I understand that. Kenya is a wonderful writer and the actual scripts he has written really define the identity of our show and have really given the Black-ish DNA its imprints. I also understand that as an artist. We work really hard. Although awards don’t mean everything, they are a part of the dance and the game that we’re in. They do have an impact in terms of the business of the business. And it’s also really fun to win! It’s really fun to be acknowledged! It’s like being in school and getting picked for the dodge ball team. It’s like your birthday, you want people to buy you a gift. (Laughs.)

What have you learned the most from playing Bow?

I’m not married in real life. I’m not the same woman as Bow and so I’ve had to explore areas and parts of myself that have been really interesting and has helped me feel even fuller as a person. I have not yet been pregnant and had a child. and who knows if that experience will come up for me or not, but I got to experience it on Black-ish. I got to give birth! (Laughs.)

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