Cover Reveal: Tracee Ellis Ross Talks “Reed” and The Real Her
VV: Is it difficult balancing your role as producer with starring in the show?
Ross: I wouldn’t say difficult, but it’s definitely makes for a long day. But it is the kind of full plate that I adore. I adore this kind of work and it’s very rewarding. The producer role very much plays into the kind of person I am. In the evolution of my career it is a really exciting step for me because I am the kind of creative person that has a real opinion about the kind of images that I want to portray and want in the public in general. So having a seat at the table with the many voices that is part of the collaborative art of television is really and exciting and wonderful for me.
VV: Let’s talk about your style. Before when we spoke, you mentioned that some of the pieces from Girlfriends would find their way into Carla’s wardrobe. What’s the inspiration? Do you work with designers or find things out and about?
Ross: It’s stuff that’s been found out and about. The way I went about Joan and Carla is I always ask myself who this woman is. Every once in a while people say Carla is so much like Joan, and I’m like, ‘People, Tracee plays both people.’ So what you’re seeing that’s the same between Carla and Joan is not Carla being like Joan, but it’s Tracee. Tracee was Joan and Tracee is Carla. It’s so funny people don’t understand that, it makes me laugh.
VV: Do you think The Cosby Show comparisons set the audience expectations too high?
Ross: I don’t know. For some people, it’s a great context to know what the show might be, and for some people, it makes it hard because you’re comparing it to something that you have such a clear idea of. BET seems to be promoting it as the new Cosby, which I don’t think it helpful, and I don’t think makes sense.
The way Malcolm [Jamal Warner] and I have been describing it is that we are in no way, shape or form trying to be a new Cosby Show. What we are doing is taking the recipe of what Cosby did, which was a family show that was timeless and good, and use those elements.
I can’t get invested in whether it hurts the show or not. The beauty of being on BET in this day and age is that on other network they do two episodes and they pull a show from television. Sometimes that’s the greatest thing, and sometimes it just never had a chance to grow. With BET, we did 25 episodes and we’re getting a chance. It’s really wonderful working with a network that wants your show and is behind your show. The audience asked for this kind of show, BET listened and they went out and have gotten behind our show. On other networks, I don’t know if that always happens.
Check back on December 20th for the full story!