We were incredibly proud to have interviewed and shot the dynamic and beautiful Tracee Ellis Ross (at one of our favorite spots, The Apartment by The Line) – especially after her inspiring video that encourages all of us to broaden our definitions of beauty – and became fully smitten with her after we met her in person. Currently starring as Bow in ABC’s Black-ish, Ross’ acting career has spanned decades, transitioning from independent films to primetime television. We also recently fell even more in love with her on the season finale of Broad City, and it was enlightening to speak to her about personal growth, learning to love oneself, her style icons and her personal definition of good content. She would tell her younger self to prioritize self-love over material things, and believes beauty lies in truth…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
Like you mean if food has no calories, I have no food sensitivities, I can eat whatever I want, I’m not an actress and I’m not forty-three? Ha. Okay, well, if all that were true, then I love a great big bowl of proper Italian spaghetti Bolognese (Bar Pitti NY); I love a proper Croque Monsieur (Petit Trois in LA), a beautiful broiled steak with an arugula salad (I make this myself), fries – always fries (even from McDonalds) – and I love sushi and Thai food.
I also have a favorite meal time – between 4:30pm-6:30pm. I’ve been told this is called “supper,” and I love to have a glass of wine or cocktail at that time. I’m really not a big drinker and not a fan of being drunk but I love the experience of beautiful stemware.
How do you practice beauty from the inside out?
I mostly stay away from dairy, gluten, and sugar, and I eat organically. Hilarious, considering what I said above, but it’s true…I’m a big believer in whole foods and live foods – as in lots and lots of veggies. I work out regularly (mostly so I can eat what I want); I’ve been doing the Tracy Anderson Method for the last five years. But for me, the building blocks of my self-care are eight hours of sleep, lots of water, as much laughter and family time as possible, and following my heart around instead of my head.
What are your morning and nightly beauty routines?
My morning and nightly beauty routines for face are pretty much the same, with an emphasis on moisture for the night. In the morning, I wash with Julisis Gold Wash Day, then apply Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum. I finish off with Cosmedix Phytoharmony moisturizer.
At night, if I wore makeup that day, I use Bioderma Crealine H20 to remove it with Shiseido facial cotton. Then Julisis wash, Vinter’s Daughter Serum and either La Mer or Cosmedix Rescue (a balm mask).
For sunblock, Epicuren X-Treme Crème. It’s a bropolis (bee pollen) sunscreen, with 45+ broad spectrum. It’s my favorite sunscreen because it leaves a natural glow on the skin. You know how sometimes sunscreen makes your skin dull? Like it adds a sheer white mask? The bee pollen gives you that natural sheeny glow, which I love.
What hair products can’t you live without?
This is such a big question I can’t even answer it.
What advice would you give your younger self?
We live in a world that will tell you that life is all about getting things, and getting what you want. I would tell my younger self that if I stay focused on getting to know myself, accepting myself, loving myself, and allowing myself to be myself that life will become less about getting things and more about building experiences that match who I am. As a result, you will wake up one day and you will have become someone you like – and you’ll be surrounded by a life that matches who you are.
How do you always start your day?
I’d like to say with prayer and meditation, but, many a day is started with Instagram. I often remove social media from my phone for stretches of time, because I know if I wake up and start with social media before prayer and meditation things have gone topsy turvy and my priorities are out of whack.
Where do you love to travel? What kind of traveler are you?
The truth is, New York is my favorite place to travel to because it used to be home and I can pretty much keep up my same routine as when I am at home in LA. I am a big lover of Europe. I love me some Italy, some Paris, some Switzerland. I’ve traveled most of my life so I am a very good traveler. I lived in Paris as a kid. I went to boarding school in Switzerland so I traveled back and forth to Europe regularly as a teenager on my own. I would love to visit Spain, Australia, and Japan. But, the truth is my ideal trip length is four nights. I know…but, I have determined that after four nights things become a little less fun – It does limit where I can go and of course I often travel for longer than that, but, with my current work schedule (working all the time) my favorite vacations are staycations and getting to enjoy my home and be in the “other” routine of my life – cooking, wandering without a schedule, and chatting with friends.
Who is your style icon and why?
I have a ton. My moods change, and so does my inspiration.
Katharine Hepburn: The way she carried that masculine style was beyond chic.
Leandra Medine: Her ability to pair patterns and color, whimsy and sex appeal all into one with a flair for the high-waisted jean kills me.
Samira Nasr: This is difficult to explain, but it’s a combination of style and a love affair because she’s one of my closest, oldest friends. There is no one I know who has a larger collection of white leather boots…and she makes them look stylish! She has a uniform wardrobe without it being an actual uniform. It’s elegant, grown up, utilitarian with a seventies undercurrent. She’s built this sturdy wardrobe that feels effortless – and did I mention she has a seriously huge collection of white leather boots?
Style wise, I also love up to Kate Moss, Caliope Champignon, and Bianca Jagger.
What’s your personal definition of ‘good content’?
Heart-engaging or visually engaging. Entertaining and thought-provoking. A reveal of the human experience.
You swear you were X in a past life...
Natasha Lyonne’s sister. If you want to know the truth, I think I was her wife, and then came back in another life as her sister, and then came back in another life (this life) as her friend. From the first time I met her I’ve felt this way. I don’t know what it is about her, but the only explanation is that we have been related in many lives.
You didn’t like X till you tried it at Y…
I am not a sandwich person, perhaps that is out of self-preservation…I mean, bread is the devil. So, I was anti Fat Sal’s. For those non-angeleno’s still following along, Fat Sal’s is an LA staple that basically puts an entire meal in a sandwich. For a while, I was like, ‘No way, no thanks, come on, that’s gross’. But seriously, they’re really good.
Four things you’re coveting now…
In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what’s ‘the new potato’ right now?
Rihanna, Beyonce’s Lemonade, Snapchat and black-ish.
Your recent video about there being a narrow view of beauty was very inspiring; how can society work to be better at rectifying this?
Navigating life and feeling good in your skin is not easy for any of us but I think it could be more fun. I think we all could use a lot more compassion and a lot less judgment of ourselves and each other. And maybe we could all engage a sense of curiosity about what beauty is and what it looks like, instead of assuming pre-existing ideas are true.
What’s your personal definition of beauty?
I think something is beautiful when it has an expression of truth. I see “pretty” as something different; “pretty” has to do with physicality to me, and “beauty” has to do with a feeling.
*Tracee Ellis Ross, photographed in Los Angeles, CA at The Apartment by The Line by Danielle Kosann.