American Music Awards Host Tracee Ellis Ross Talks Costume Changes, Pre-Show Prep

Tracee Ellis Ross - 2017 Emmys - Getty - H 2017
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With mom Diana Ross being honored on Sunday, the show will be a family affair. "Clearly the planets aligned and made this moment happen," says the 'Black-ish' actress.

Tracee Ellis Ross has had a jam-packed week: She celebrated the launch of her JC Penney line in L.A. and attended the Glamour Women of the Year Awards after giving an inspiring speech at the glossy's WOTY summit in Brooklyn. But that's not all — on Sunday she'll be taking over the Microsoft Theater stage in DTLA to host the American Music Awards.

Her hosting gig couldn't be more appropriate — her mom, the iconic Diana Ross, is set to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and perform during the music awards show. Diana is no stranger to the AMAs stage; she's taken home seven American Music Awards and hosted the show in 1986 and 1987.

"It's a full circle moment for me," says Ross, who notes that her legendary mama was also the first-ever recipient of an American Music Award statue at the first-ever AMAs ceremony in 1974. "It's extra special. I couldn't have thought up and planned ... clearly the planets aligned and made this moment happen."

Ross is just as excited about her mom's presence on Sunday as she is about the evening's performers, including Pink and Kelly Clarkson. "I don't know about you, but I've been waiting my whole life," an excited Ross tells The Hollywood Reporter of the two performers who will be opening the awards show.


A LIFETIME OF ACHIEVEMENT ~ the @amas honor my mama @dianaross this Sunday 11/19 on @abcnetwork #MsRossxAMAs

A post shared by Tracee Ellis Ross (@traceeellisross) on

In preparation, Ross says, "There's a lot of stretching, trying to get as much sleep as possible and a little bit of a facial massage, and [I'm] doing it myself of course, I'm not asking anyone else to massage my face ... It's important to have a lot of blood flow for hosting TV. (Laughs)."

Then there's her wardrobe, which is key. "I'm mostly in fittings because it's a lot about the costume changes," explains the Black-ish actress, who's been working with stylist Karla Welch to get ready. So, can we expect a fashion tribute to her style icon mom, who famously played a fashion designer in the 1975 film Mahogany and inspired a Tom Ford-designed Yves Saint Laurent collection? "As we have seen through my career, just about everything I wear is paying tribute to my mom. (Laughs.) Her style influenced me in such a major way that I can't help it. Sometimes I'm thinking I'm doing something so original and then I'll see pictures of my mom and I'm like, 'Oh.' Basically I just copied an outfit of my mom."

"There will definitely be a lot of nods to my mom," Ross says. (Big hair? Sparkling jumpsuits? Colorful furs? Yes, please!) "There will be one special moment I actually get to bring out the nostalgia of a particular piece of clothing," she teases, while adding that the evening is really about "celebrating this beautiful, extraordinary moment."

Ross appreciates the importance of outfit switches for an awards show host ("That's pivotal to our role," she emphasizes), and also giving each look "its shining moment in the sun."

"Sometimes if you do too many changes, no one gets to see them!" she shouts. "All of a sudden, a camera shot is just of your shoulders and then you're like 'What?! That look was so good.' So I'm trying to make sure, which is part of the rehearsal, where will I be standing and what's the camera shot."

In the event that one look doesn't get enough air time, don't worry — Ross plans to give it more love on her Instagram account, where she's known to show off her fashion A-game. Says Ross: "Without a doubt, isn't that the whole point of Instagram? Instagram is like a lookbook play-by-play!" Spoken like a sartorial pro.